Tuesday, September 30, 2008

-A Most Wanted Man- John le Carré Reads NEW book on the date of publication

John le Carré's new book
JUST OUT / Reprieve event

When: Wednesday, 1 October 2008, 8 pm
Where: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre

Reprieve, the legal action charity, is delighted to announce that John le Carré will be reading from his new book, A Most Wanted Man, on the date of its publication, 1 October 2008, at 8 pm in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank Centre.

In A Most Wanted Man, le Carré considers the “war on terror” and the horror of “extraordinary rendition.”

Whilst both main party candidates for the US presidency have stated that they will close the prison in Guantánamo Bay if elected, this is barely the beginning of the battle against illegal detention in the “war on terror”. As terrifying as it is to admit it, closing Guantánamo is one of the easier solutions to the brutal extra-legal world created by the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In addition to the 265 prisoners still held in Guantanamo, a further 27,000 people are imprisoned beyond the reach of the law in other prisons worldwide. The majority are held in prisons across Iraq, but at least 600 are held in a US-run prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. All of these prisoners lack even the minimal rights secured by the prisoners in Guantanamo, and are not being treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

In addition, hundreds – if not thousands – more prisoners constitute “America’s Disappeared”, subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and either delivered to the torture chambers of third countries, or held in secret prisons run by or overseen by the CIA.

John le Carré will speak about this subject, read from A Most Wanted Man and talk about his new book: Issa is a half-starved young Russian threatened with deportation. Annabel is an idealistic young lawyer determined to save him. As their story unfolds, the spies of three nations converge upon the innocents. This is classic Le Carre, combining humour, narrative tension and moral anger. Le Carre discusses his craft at this landmark event, celebrating his 21st novel.

At the end of the event, the organisers will invite the audience to make contributions to enable Reprieve to continue its vital work.

To book a ticket, please go Here

To find out more on renditions, Gitmo & related go Here

The Nine Fired US Attorneys--Newest Report

Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy will now pursue the questions the inspector general was unable to answer. She is a 17-year veteran of the Justice Department who is currently in charge of the U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut.

All Things Considered, NPR dot Org September 29, 2008

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed a federal prosecutor to follow up on a scathing investigation of the Bush administration's decision to fire nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. The Justice Department's inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility released the report jointly Monday morning. It is harsh, but incomplete, as key officials in the White House and Congress refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

The nearly 400-page report provides a road map to one of the most chaotic periods in the department's history. It has no praise for anyone who was in charge then. According to the report:

* Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "failed to exercise appropriate leadership and supervision throughout this entire process."
* Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty made public statements that were "inconsistent, misleading or inaccurate."
* Chief of staff Kyle Sampson, who oversaw the U.S. attorney firings, "mishandled the removal process from the outset."

All three of those men resigned over the controversy, as did more than a dozen others.

Investigators found no evidence that anyone at the Justice Department evaluated the reasons for firing each U.S. attorney. They also found that no one tried to keep improper political considerations out of the firing process. That means prosecutors may have been fired for refusing to indict Democrats or for prosecuting Republicans. Indeed, investigators "found substantial evidence that partisan political considerations played a part in the removal of several of the U.S. attorneys."

The most "troubling example," investigators concluded, "was the removal of David Iglesias, the U.S. attorney for New Mexico." Iglesias was fired after Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) complained to the White House and to Gonzales that Iglesias was not prosecuting Democrats before Election Day.

Iglesias said that when he read the report on Monday morning, he felt "a tremendous sense of relief and vindication."

"What I've been saying all along has now been substantiated," Iglesias said. "That these firings were wrongful, that there was no legal basis for them, and now it's going to the next level, which is they may have broken criminal laws."

Investigators cannot say for sure whether anyone broke a law in the Iglesias case or others, because neither Domenici nor the White House would cooperate with the investigation. Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers refused to testify, as did Karl Rove, former political adviser to President Bush.

At one point, the White House created a timeline of the U.S. attorney firings. They shared that timeline with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, but when investigators asked for the timeline, the White House told the Office of Legal Counsel not to share the document with the investigators.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) blamed Mukasey for tolerating Bush administration stonewalling.

"Why did the attorney general not direct the Office of Legal Counsel to provide the reports?" Whitehouse asked. "Why did he not go to the White House and say, 'If you're not cooperating, I'm not your attorney general any longer?'"

Mukasey appointed Dannehy to lead the investigation and instructed her to report back within 60 days on the status of the investigation.

One issue she'll examine is whether Gonzales committed any crimes.

George Terwilliger, Gonzales' lawyer, says he is upset the investigation will continue.

"The bottom line is the report does not report any evidence of criminal wrongdoing," Terwilliger said. "And whether they were able to answer all the questions they wanted to ask or not is beside the point."

Former U.S. attorneys are a close-knit group, and on Monday, many of them were reading the report. Republican Matt Orwig of Dallas — who was not one of the nine attorneys fired in 2006 — says he found the report "literally sickening."

Orwig was once called a "loyal Bushie," a description he says he finds offensive. Orwig says the Justice Department has always had a wall of independence from political influence, and "that wall of independence was just completely torn down, burned and hauled off" during the U.S. attorney firings scandal. Orwig says it will take years to rebuild that wall.

Legal Affairs
Justice Probe: Partisan Politics Had Role In Firings

by Ari Shapiro

Listen: NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Steve Inskeep about the findings on 'Morning Edition' and find the report as well as background at NPR dot org and more on this topic in the archives (right column)

A long-awaited report from the Justice Department released Monday concludes that political partisan considerations played a part in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 but stops short of recommending criminal charges against top officials.

The dismissals of the lawyers led to the resignations of key officials at the Justice Department, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The investigation found "significant evidence that political partisan considerations were an important factor" in the removal of several U.S. attorneys and points a finger at Gonzales for failing to supervise the U.S. attorney selection and removal process.

However, because investigators were unable to fully develop the facts of the case — partly bcause of the White House failure to provide internal documents — the report recommends further inquiry to determine whether any criminal offense was committed. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has followed the report's suggestion and appointed a prosecutor — Nora Dannehy — to continue the investigation.

The Justice Department's inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility have been conducting the investigation for more than a year, holding hundreds of hours of interviews and examining tens of thousands of pages of documents. The result is a 392-page report complete with timelines and other visual aids.

In a statement, Mukasey said the report "makes plain that, at a minimum, the process by which nine U.S. Attorneys were removed in 2006 was haphazard, arbitrary and unprofessional, and that the way in which the Justice Department handled those removals and the resulting public controversy was profoundly lacking."

Mukasey also said he hoped the report takes steps to restore the reputations of the affected U.S. attorneys. "They did not deserve the treatment they received," Mukasey says.

FDR on Banking, Credits and Investments 1933

FDR in 1933: "There Must Be a Strict Supervision of All Banking and Credits and Investments. There Must Be an End to Speculation with Other People's Money."

We now move three-quarters of a century back in time to 1933. It was the middle of an era that our current moment is sometimes compared to: the Great Depression. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took his oath of office in March of that year, over 10,000 banks had collapsed, following the stock market crash of 1929. One-quarter of American workers were unemployed, and people were fighting over scraps of food. (See Democracy Now! Monday, September 29 for an excerpt of FDR’s inaugural speech on March 4, 1933, and an audio of Adam Cohen, author of the forthcoming book, Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America.)

“Is this the United States Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?” Rep. Dennis Kucinich Rejects $700 Billion Bailout

...The proposed legislation was forged during a marathon negotiating session over the weekend between lawmakers from both parties and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The 110-page bill would authorize Paulson to initiate what is likely to become the biggest government bailout in US history, allowing him to spend up to $700 billion to relieve faltering banks and other firms of bad assets backed by home mortgages, which are falling into foreclosure at record rates.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: I have come to trust certain analysts of news, politics, social patterns--yet there are so many unknown dynamics...Since I admit to virtually NO knowledge of finances I best now turn to other topics, as crucial as this one is.

Monday, September 29, 2008

No BAILOUT yet -- Blog Postings

ALL kinds of blogs after Ron Suskind's short one at Huff Post Sep 29-30

Here are a few that caught my eye:

Both the 'left wing' Democrats (disclaimer - there really are damned few of them) and the token fiscal conservative Republicans (also a rare breed any more) would be right though.

It was Wall Street being bailed out in hopes that a pittance of that money would come tinkling down (piss) from on high to help out the actual citizens. It was the final attempted act in Bush's corporatist socialism transfer of wealth to the few from the many.

Luckily - this particular incarnation of disaster for the common Americans has been averted - for now.
...there was a bank nationalized in Iceland today. Anyone getting the picture that this isn't just about the USA ? People need to wake up
A great quote that is ringing true:

"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

- Benjamin Franklin

Ben left out business but he hit the nail on the head, once people/businesses find out they can vote themselves money, we are screwed.

What US economy?
All we do is sell paper?
This bailout is a bad idea.
We need to have a little discomfort in the real world for people to realize that this is what happens when you elect crimina.. I mean, free market, anti-government politicians.

If the institutions that stand to benefit from Bush'sBucketO'Money really have a sustainable operation, then let the market will out. Let the CDS holders claim their paydays.

Vendors of necessities, like food, will find a way to get their goods to the store. People won't starve.

I don't know how I'll buy any, though. I'm a Realtor. Wanna buy a house?
Where is your house? I have had several bankers ask if I would like some loans.....and I do not mean the crappy type. There STILL is money in the economy, just not between THE LARGEST banks. That is fine with me.

So, please do not buy Paulson's BS.
Bailing out Wall Street won't help the average American, in fact, it's going to do immense harm to average Americans. We'll end up with higher taxes, higher interest rates, higher foreclosure rates, lower wages and fewer jobs.

Wall Street's Daddy Warbucks gets the gold mine, and working Americans get the shaft.
I love how the basic premise - that this bailout was a good thing - is accepted.

Well it shouldn't be. You can't fix an economy with government subsidies or protectionism. it's been tried before.

I'm glad this failed.
If we are going to give 700 bil away during a recession, I'd like to see congress look at all the options and take their time to carefully deliberate.

And Suskind says "So, how did we get a war inside the Republican party that may leave the economy in shambles? " Answer: The economy has been in shambles for quite a while, led by a republican administration that started an unnecessary trillion+ war and a congress that went along.
Exactly. As if the economy was doing fine until this happened. The bank failures are a symptom, and not the cause.
Frankly, with a few exceptions, I'm sick and tired of the whole lot of them - both sides of the aisle.

I think it would be great if the electorate rose up en masse and just voted all of them out and brought in Independents, Greens, Libertarians, etc. to run Congress and put either Nader, Barr, or McKinney in the White House - and told the Democrats and Republicans to take a hike.

Certainly they couldn't do worse, they may actually do better, and it would be a definite wake-up call to those who want to play politcs when so many are suffering. +++
Humility appeals to me as a quality that allows for infinite growth but no bloating.

The appropriate political response to all of this is to let it happen. It meets the need of both Parties to let it happen. The free market zealots can painfully ride out the storm of not only their failed policies, which came out of their flawed paradigm, which emanated from their simple-mindedness. They can also slide down the fiery razor blade of dissent, in political flames, due to the backlash that will occur from the electorate as individual lives and fortunes are taxed heavily for being fooled in 2000 and sanctioning mass demise.

If this is to be our phoenix moment, let the Democrats emerge as the Party that rises from the ash-heap of America knocked out by greed, theft, and deception. Let it be a wake-up call to the revived Democratic Party that it too can be consumed by idiocy. Let this be the change we need, the change we thought, that new day that answers the fierce urgency of now. Here is an opportunity to take the fervor in speeches and apply it directly to the sitiation [sic]. Yes, there will be pain but there always is in labors of love. Let the reasonable band together, stand together, say enough, and not this time, and have it really mean something. Let us strike up the band and keep the beat bumpin"!

With humility... (adds more later)

...The appropriate political response to all of this is to let it happen and my reading of the patient that is America says radical surgery is needed.

Radical surgery would be to allow the markets to self-correct. That would cause a public stimulus that congress could never match. It would force the press to report on who is to blame as they watch their own portfolios shrink, and it would force the American people to pay attention because bellies will be aching from lack of food because mommy and daddy are under pressure. If you really read what I was trying to say above, I am calling for transformation not just electing a new president. Barack Obama has been touted to be transformational. Let him lead us into transformation by taking a hard stance on this Bill. He will do not that but that is what I think is required. Mr. Obama is walking that most difficult of tightropes and if he wins I will consider it destiny because the forces of evil are working day and night against him. He has to fight against perceptions of race, deceptions and hate, a compromised press, and a rapidly changing world in distress. That is why he has my support even though he is forced to play a game I despise. He cannot win if he does not play the silly game. This situation might just be the ticket to take him over the hump of doubt.

Main Stream take on Bailout & What may be next

U.S.News & World Report: Bailout, Take II: What the Feds Do Next
Monday September 29, 6:07 pm ET
By Rick Newman

OK, so that didn't work.

After a bunch of all-nighters in Washington and some premature back-slapping, we're right back where we were a couple of weeks ago, after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and the government lent AIG $85 billion. There's no one-size-fits-all bailout plan, after all. That $700 billion in taxpayer money remains under lock and key. Glum investors are now the ones bailing out, fleeing stocks and bonds and seeking safer ground.

But there are still some levers the government can pull. Working through the mess just won't be as orderly or predictable as it would if there were a single plan and a big pot of money. Here's what's likely to happen next:

Another try at a big bailout plan. A lot of those constituents who have been calling Congress to complain about rescuing fat cats are going to rethink their indignation as they watch the stock markets--and their own portfolios--sink. Lawmakers who voted against the bailout plan are going to have to explain why they're letting the markets collapse. The more uncomfortable voters get, the more likely Congress will be to pass some kind of sweeping relief plan. This is far from over.

More piecemeal bailouts. Before the big $700 billion bailout plan even existed, the Fed and the Treasury Department were already patching leaks in the financial system--one trouble spot at a time. The idea behind an umbrella bailout plan was to overhaul the whole system, establishing public standards and treating every ailing company more or less the same, before a bunch of leaks became a gusher. That would have eliminated the guesswork over whether a struggling company meets the criteria for a rescue--like AIG--or falls short, like Lehman Brothers.

Now we're back to guessing. The feds still have the wherewithal to lend money, buy bad assets, or take other measures to keep ailing companies afloat. What they don't have is a single plan that applies to all companies and the authority to soak up vast amounts of bad assets. So those weekend meetings at the New York Fed, with supplicant CEOs pleading for help, are likely to continue.

More failed companies. Duke University finance Prof. Campbell Harvey predicts there could be 750 to 1,000 bank failures over the next six months because of billions in bad assets stemming from the housing meltdown. Scarce credit also threatens other types of companies that are already struggling and desperately need capital, such as the Detroit automakers and some of the airlines. The government will be able to deal with some of those companies one at a time, but without a comprehensive plan, others will fall through the cracks.

Manic markets. Investors were hoping that a big bailout plan would offer some predictability about how the government will deal with struggling companies. Their crystal ball is once again very dark. That means wild swings in stock prices as big investors try to get out of the market ahead of bad news, and get back in if it looks like the feds will ride to the rescue. One of the most volatile sectors is likely to be regional bank stocks as investors worry that banks like Sovereign Bancorp and National City might be the next to fail.

Patchwork regulation. There's already a system in place for dealing with failed banks--led by the FDIC--but that may not be enough to handle the damage that's unfolding. Even without a big bailout bill, Congress may have to set up a new agency to deal with dozens or hundreds of bank failures, one similar to the Resolution Trust Corp. formed in the late 1980s. We could see a whole slew of lesser regulations, too, like restrictions on certain lending practices and higher federal coverage limits on bank deposits.

Continued government intervention. The Federal Reserve continues to pump huge sums of money into the global banking system in a desperate effort to prompt banks to loosen their grip on loans to companies, consumers, and one another. For now, that seems to be having little effect as banks absorb the startling news from Washington and hunker down. That may lead the Fed to pump out even more money and take other important steps, like cutting interest rates. Sooner or later, that will probably help loosen things up. Until then, however, it's apparently up to the markets to fix themselves. Plan accordingly.

Absurd new FBI guidelines! Please take ACTION Now

We're all suspects?!

Under new FBI guidelines proposed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey, all the FBI has to do to put anybody they want under prolonged physical surveillance is assert an “authorized purpose” such as detecting or preventing crime or protecting “national security."

These kinds of Bush/Cheney/Gonzales/Mukasey “just trust us” policies have been eroding our rights for the past eight years. After illegal spying and top-level torture policies coming from the White House, this is absurd. Enough is enough!

These new guidelines would allow the FBI to interview you, your friends and family under a false pretext. The FBI could recruit secret informants, and have them infiltrate peaceful protest groups. And the FBI to could initiate investigations based on little more than race, ethnicity or religion.

The FBI could also search commercial databases for personal details about your life with no real reason. And all of this would be allowed without an ounce of evidence that you or anyone else has done anything wrong.

These guidelines represent one step closer to a police state. And the worst part is that there is good reason to believe the FBI has been violating its internal guidelines all along.

Fortunately, there is something we can do about this before the new regulations are implemented. I just demanded that the Inspector General at the Department of Justice launch an investigation to determine if the FBI has been violating its own guidelines. The Inspector General’s office at the Department of Justice has proven to be an unbiased, internal watchdog that has consistently exposed wrongdoing. We need to urge the IG to do it again. Take action now at:



We had a major breakthrough today when the House of Representatives voted down the bill by a 228 to 205 margin (across the aisle). This is a real opportunity to keep pushing for more reforms.

Please call Congress at 202-224-3121 and demand -- "Bailout homeowners, not the bank owners." The U.S. needs to build its economy from the ground up not from the top down. Tell Congress to reconsider this bill and develop a bill that builds the economy not bails out speculators who undermine the economy.

We have made a lot of progress since Bush-Paulsen came forward with their 2 page blank check. The more than 100 page bill is moving in our direction but not far enough. If this bill is to pass it needs to put emphasis to ensure homeowners have their mortgages rewritten so they can afford to stay in their homes rather than lose them to the banks.

This populist revolt is heartening. Let's keep up the pressure. Call 202-224-3121 and go to www.FreshAirCleanPolitics.net and send a letter to Congress. Tell your friends to do the same.

The people are having an impact.

Kevin Zeese, Executive Director Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics

Corporation: n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. ~Ambrose Bierce, author and editor (1842-1914)

Washington Post, United States: Why the Bailout Bill Failed 2008-09-29

The administration was also too eager and ambitious with its initial proposal, alienating many lawmakers right from the start by seeming to ask for the moon -- give us everything we want, with no oversight. This White House has long played political hardball, but this was not the time for hardball.


House ignores Bush, rejects $700B bailout bill

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer 8 minutes ago at 1:14 PM ET Monday

In a stunning vote that shocked the capital and worldwide markets, the House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation's financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive without it.

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street, beginning their plunge even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was officially announced on the House floor. The Dow Jones industrials sank nearly 700 points for the day.

Democratic and Republican leaders alike said they were committed to trying again, though the Democrats said GOP lawmakers needed to provide more votes. Bush huddled with his economic advisers about a next step.

In the House chamber, as a digital screen recorded a cascade of "no" votes against the bailout, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York shouted news of the falling stocks. "Six hundred points!" he yelled, jabbing his thumb downward.

Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.

"No" votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.

The overriding question for congressional leaders was what to do next...(end excerpt)

See rest of this article under UPDATES & ACTIONS for TODAY on BAILOUT/Planned Ignorance (in archives & just below) ALL WEEK...

"Even if they believe that something must be done right now, lawmakers should still vote no on this specific bill, and force one of the very prudent alternatives to the forefront. They shouldn't just vote no on Paulson's proposal -- they should vote hell no. Our economy's future depends on it." More at Alternet dot org

Also keep watching Congressional Quarterly's Midday UPdates:
http://www.cqpoltics.com IN NOW:
# Hill Leaders, White House Vow to Try Again on Bailout as Stocks Plunge |
# Transcript: House Democrats’ News Conference on Bailout Bill Failure |
# Bailout Bill Posed Whipping Challenge for Both Parties |
# Transcript: House Republicans’ News Conference on Bailout Bill Failure |
# Rep. Paul: ‘Lipstick’ on a Bailout

JUST IN: US Attorney General on Attorney Firings Listen today for announcement/report--Tune into NPR PM ET/Read Ari Shapiro

UPDATE--Watch for more...

Remember 1 year 12 days ago?

Alberto Gonzales resigns…effective Sept. 17, 2007 Here's what Bush said at that time:
Bush (was)lauding Gonzales for his “integrity, decency, and principle.” “Trusted adviser and close friend…After months of unfair treatment that has created harmful distraction at the Justice Dept, Gonzales decided to [resign]…It’s sad that…his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons…”

Good Name? Only for political reasons?

Prosecutor named to probe US attorneys' firings

By LAURIE KELLMAN and MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago at 3:20 PM ET Sep 29, 2008

Attorney General Michael Mukasey named a prosecutor Monday to investigate whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, other Bush administration officials or Republicans in Congress should face criminal charges in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

The launching of a criminal inquiry follows the recommendation of internal Justice Department investigators who concluded that, despite denials of the administration, political considerations played a part in the firings of at least four of the federal prosecutors.

In their 358-page report, investigators said the lack of cooperation by senior officials at the White House and in the Justice Department left gaps in their findings that should be investigated further.

"Serious allegations involving potential criminal conduct have not been fully investigated or resolved," the report said, listing lying to investigators, obstruction of justice and wire fraud among the potential felony crimes.

Mukasey's appointment of Nora Dannehy, the acting U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to continue the inquiry leaves open the possibility that it won't be finished before President Bush leaves office in January.

Senators of both parties who led a congressional probe of the firings praised Mukasey's decision and cautioned Bush against pardoning anyone as he leaves the White House.

"The American people will see any misuse of the pardon power or any grant of clemency or immunity to those from his administration involved in the U.S. attorney firing scandal as an admission of wrongdoing," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The report unsparingly criticized Bush administration officials, Republican members of Congress and their aides for the ousters, which touched off a scandal that stripped the Justice Department of its leadership and sparked a historic showdown in court.

The report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility Director Marshall Jarrett described Gonzales and his deputy, Paul McNulty as "remarkably disengaged" from the process that led to the dismissal of the prosecutors.

Monday's report was the latest to criticize Gonzales' management of the Justice Department during his 31 months as attorney general. Gonzales quit under fire in September 2007.

In a statement issued by his attorney, Gonzales said: "My family and I are glad to have the investigation of my conduct in this matter behind us and we look forward to moving on to new challenges."

Gonzales' attorney George Terwiller noted that the report found no unlawful conduct. "It seems rather odd," Terwilliger said, "that rather than bring the investigation to a close, the department would escalate the matter to the attention of a prosecutor."

U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president, but cannot be fired for improper reasons.

The report singled out the removal of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias in New Mexico — one of the nine — as the most troubling. A leading Republican political figure in New Mexico, Sen. Pete Domenici, had complained about Iglesias' handling of voter fraud and public corruption cases, and that led to his firing, the report said.

Iglesias, who now works as a paid speaker and practices law part-time, said he thinks criminal investigations should be pursued against Domenici and anyone else who may have broken federal criminal laws. He said he had not yet seen the report.

"I've said all along that these moves were improper and illegal and now it appears that they were criminal as well," he said in an interview. "Our complaints weren't just complaints of disgruntled former employees."

A spokesmen for Domenici did not respond to requests for comment. He is leaving Congress at the end of the year.

Investigators said their inquiry of the firing of Iglesias and others was hampered by the lack of cooperation from Domenici, former White House adviser Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers, former Justice Department official Monica Goodling and other key witnesses.

The president's refusal to let Rove, Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten testify before Congress about the firings touched off a legal fight that is now before a federal appeals court. Most recently a judge ordered Miers to answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee about the firings.

The report concluded that Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, was the person most responsible for developing the plan to fire the prosecutors and said that Sampson's comments to Congress, the White House and others were misleading.

Sampson and others claimed at first that the prosecutors' poor performance inspired their firings. But the 358-page report found that Bud Cummins, the U.S. Attorney in Arkansas, was forced out to make way for Timothy Griffin, who had previously been Rove's deputy in the White House political office.

It also said the dismissal of Todd Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, probably resulted from pressure from the office of Republican Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond. Bond was upset that Graves did not intervene in a dispute between the staffs of Bond and Republican Rep. Sam Graves, the prosecutor's brother, the report said.

A spokeswoman for Bond did not immediately return a call for comment.

Investigators found no evidence that Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton and U.S. Attorney Carol Lam of San Diego were fired for prosecuting Republican members of Congress.

Similarly, the report says Justice Department officials had legitimate concerns about the work of two other prosecutors who were fired — Margaret Chiara of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Kevin Ryan of San Francisco.


On the Net:

Justice Department report: http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/new.htm

(This version CORRECTS that Wilson was not named in the report as having complained about Iglesias.))

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Brief Recap:


http://www.usdoj.gov/opr/us-att-firings-rpt092308.pdf THE REPORT


JUST HOW "SPECIAL" IS SHE? From fellow home news analyst Keith L.:

We've been debating internally the propriety of referring to Nora Dannehy, whom Michael Mukasey appointed this morning to investigate the U.S. attorneys purge, as a "special prosecutor." The New York Times uses the phrase, as have we intermittently.

But the truth of the matter is that the term "special prosecutor" has a specific meaning in DOJ regulations. Nora Dannehy has not been appointed pursuant to those regs (neither, as I understand it, was Patrick Fitzgerald, even though he was often referred to as "special prosecutor" in the Plame case).

Under the DOJ regs, the attorney general is to appoint a special prosecutor when:

(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney's Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and

(b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.

You would certainly think those circumstances present themselves here and virtually scream for an outside attorney to lead this case. But the attorney general has concluded otherwise.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), for one, isn't happy with the attorney general's decision to keep the investigation in-house.
--David Kurtz

Justice Correspondent, Washington Desk: Ari Shapiro Photo: Jacques Coughlin (20060

WATCH FOR SHAPIRO'S REPORT EVE ON NPR dot org -- transcript should be available by Tuesday. Reference Shapiro on this story along with Bill of Rights Defense Committee dot org slash news daily this week...

Ari Shapiro, NPR's award-winning justice correspondent, reports on the Department of Justice and national legal affairs for all of NPR's newsmagazines, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. His recent reporting has focused on legal controversies over national security issues, including domestic surveillance, interrogation policies, and access to federal courts by enemy combatants. He has also been a guest host for NPR's news and talk programs.

Based in Washington, D.C., Shapiro travels extensively to investigate and report on legal issues across the country, ranging from jury service and attorney-client privilege to indigent defense and mental health courts. The first NPR reporter to be made a correspondent before age 30, Shapiro has received the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award for his coverage of New Orleans' disordered legal system following Hurricane Katrina and the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for his investigation of methamphetamine use and HIV transmission. In 2008, the Columbia Journalism Review honored Shapiro with a "laurel" for excellent reporting on his investigation of disability benefits for injured veterans at an Army base in upstate New York.

Before he began covering the Department of Justice in 2005, Shapiro investigated abuses of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and covered the legal proceedings against American soldiers accused of the abuses. As a regional reporter for NPR in Miami, he covered the 2004 Atlantic hurricanes and subsequent allegations of wasteful spending by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A magna cum laude graduate of Yale, Shapiro began his journalism career in 2001 in the office of legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. He was subsequently awarded NPR's reporter training fellowship and reported locally for member station WBUR in Boston. Shapiro was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and grew up in Portland, Oregon.

No Grand Jury for Gonzales
Report to Call for Continued Probe of U.S. Attorneys' Firings

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 29, 2008; A02

Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales will not be referred to a federal grand jury for his role in the 2006 firings of nine U.S. attorneys, but a long-awaited report to be released today will recommend that a prosecutor continue to probe the involvement of lawmakers and White House officials in the episode, according to two people familiar with the case.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility Director H. Marshall Jarrett, who wrote the report, will not absolve department officials of blame but will recommend that efforts to resolve unanswered questions continue, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the findings had not been made public.

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is preparing to name a prosecutor from within the department to address the questions, ensuring that the politically charged issue will extend into the next administration, the sources said. An intense effort to determine how the firing plan originated and whether perjury or obstruction-of-justice laws were violated in refusing to reveal the basis for the dismissals has been thwarted, partly because investigators lack the power to compel testimony from people outside the department. Some of those officials could have played a critical role in recommending that specific prosecutors be fired.

In their 18-month review, investigators sifted through thousands of documents and interviewed scores of people to test the reasons that department leaders offered for the prosecutors' dismissals. They also set out to determine whether the prosecutors were sacked in an improper attempt to influence particular cases.

The basis for the dismissals is the subject of a tug of war between Congress and the executive branch. This year, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sued to seek documents and testimony from former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers and from President Bush's chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten. A federal appeals court in Washington is deliberating the case. Meanwhile, the House panel recently voted to hold former presidential adviser Karl Rove in contempt for refusing to answer questions about the firings.

The political heat intensified last year amid more than half a dozen congressional hearings into the issue. Ultimately, 19 Justice Department officials in Washington resigned.

Current and former lawyers in the department, however, said criminal charges against Gonzales, who stepped aside in August 2007, were unlikely absent the emergence of new e-mails or witness accounts that directly contradict his statements about the firings.

Monica M. Goodling, who served as the department's White House liaison, told Congress last year that she felt "uncomfortable" during a March 2007 conversation with Gonzales that focused on her recollections of the circumstances surrounding the dismissals. Her account of the meeting prompted lawmakers to accuse Gonzales of improperly trying to influence her testimony. He denied the allegations, saying he was only trying to comfort a distraught employee. Goodling is one of several former aides who declined to be interviewed by investigators, who lack the power to issue subpoenas.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers challenged Gonzales's truthfulness in a series of hostile hearings in the summer of 2007. The sessions highlighted his inability to remember key meetings, e-mails and memos laying out plans for the dismissals. Gonzales, who has not landed full-time legal work since his resignation, told Congress that he delegated many decisions to his subordinates and should have exercised more oversight.

"We are gratified that the report apparently verifies . . . that Judge Gonzales's action in the removal of certain U.S. Attorneys was proper and appropriate," said George J. Terwilliger III, Gonzales's attorney.

U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and can be fired for any reason. But contradictory explanations for the dismissals, and the steady release of internal e-mails suggesting the plan had evolved over two years in consultation with White House officials, damaged the department's reputation and credibility. The report will sift through all of the conflicting data about prosecutors who found themselves on lists prepared by D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Gonzales.

Among the most closely watched of the cases is one involving former New Mexico U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias, who says he received troubling phone calls from GOP Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Republican Rep. Heather A. Wilson about the status of a criminal corruption probe against a prominent local Democrat shortly before the 2006 elections. In April, the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Domenici, who is retiring.

Investigators failed in their attempts to interview lawmakers, their assistants or former White House aides. As a result, they asked Mukasey to continue the probe by appointing a prosecutor.

Despite calls from some of the fired U.S. attorneys, Mukasey has not named a special prosecutor from outside the department. He intends to hand over the project to a career prosecutor with experience in public corruption work, the sources said.

Earlier this year, Mukasey tapped a veteran federal prosecutor from Connecticut to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes that depicted the interrogation of prisoners suspected of ties to al-Qaeda. In that case, the attorney general said more inquiry was needed to determine whether laws had been broken but warned that criminal charges would not necessarily follow.

Mukasey is expected to adopt a similar approach in the case of the U.S. attorneys' firings, picking a career prosecutor who will report to the Justice Department's second in command.

Any documents and interviews that are gathered by the career prosecutor presumably will be covered under federal grand jury and investigative protections, keeping them under wraps for months, until after Bush leaves office.
The following is based on this CRUCIAL report ( blogger plans to provide hyper-links to this & others by late Wed...please come back & send your items to Connie L. Nash
@ newlease7@yahoo.com ):


Prosecutor Named In U.S. Attorney Firing Probe
By Kate Klonick - September 29, 2008, 11:09AM

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed Nora Dannehy, a federal prosecutor from Connecticut as prosecutor in the continued investigation of the removal of nine U.S. attorneys.

The appointment comes at the request of a report released today by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility.

According to her biography on the Justice Department webpage, Dannehy became an acting U.S. attorney in April of this year. Prior to her appointment, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Connecticut District for 17 years and served as a Professional Responsibility Officer.

Also see...

Mark Wilson Photo

The Justice Department concludes that Monica Goodling, senior counsel to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, wrongly considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring. Getty Images

A Justice Department report finds that aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales illegally discriminated against job applicants who weren't Republican or conservative loyalists. The report concludes that politics illegally influenced the hiring of career prosecutors and immigration judges.
Legal Affairs
Justice Dept.'s Hiring Tactics Illegal, Report Says

by Ari Shapiro

Justice IG Report AUDIO AT NPR

* Read The July 28 Report (PDF)

The Justice Department concludes that Monica Goodling, senior counsel to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, wrongly considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring.

All Things Considered, July 28, 2008 · An internal Justice Department investigation released Monday has concluded that senior officials broke the law by hiring immigration and other officials based on partisan considerations. The report — issued by the inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility — culminates an investigation that lasted more than a year, stemming from the firing of seven U.S. attorneys in one day in 2006.

The report focuses on some of the senior officials in the circle of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Specifically, the report names senior counselor and White House liaison Monica Goodling and Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson. Both have left the department. Another official, John Nowacki, still works at the Justice Department, and the report recommends disciplining him for knowingly issuing false press statements.

The report concludes that Goodling, Sampson and others broke the law by considering political and ideological affiliations in selecting immigration judges, federal prosecutors and other candidates for jobs that are supposed to be free from politics.

According to the report, Goodling would regularly ask job applicants:

"What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?"

"Aside from the president, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire."

"Why are you a Republican?"

One applicant told investigators that when he told Goodling he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Goodling frowned and commented, "But she's pro-choice."

According to the report, Goodling knew that what she was doing was wrong. She would give career applicants questionnaires that were only supposed to be for political jobs. If the applicant pointed it out, she would say it was a mistake and take away the questionnaire.

"This is the way you ruin a really stellar government agency," former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, who served during the Clinton administration, told NPR. "The credibility of the Department of Justice depends on the American people understanding and believing that the process for administration of justice is completely nonpartisan, and when you undermine that, you grievously harm the American people."

Goodling's attorney, Jeffrey King, released a statement saying: "Each and every one of the core conclusions of the OIG/OPR report released today is consistent with, and indeed derived from, Ms. Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee."

The report says Goodling screened hundreds of job applicants in many different parts of the Justice Department.

One experienced counterterrorism prosecutor did not get a job in Washington because his wife was a Democrat. As a result, the report says, a much less experienced but politically acceptable attorney was assigned to handle counterterrorism issues.

The inspector general also concluded that Goodling ousted Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie A. Hagen from her assignment in Washington and blocked her from other positions based on Goodling's belief that Hagen was a lesbian.

NPR first broke that story last spring. Hagen's lawyer, Lisa Banks, told NPR that Goodling's actions were devastating to Hagen's career. "She's a 20-year prosecutor with an unblemished record of excellent performance [and] departmental awards, and when Monica Goodling and this administration believed that she might be gay, all of a sudden her career was completely derailed," Banks says.

Goodling was not the only one responsible for politicized hiring. According to the report, Kyle Sampson took the lead on hiring immigration judges. He was the attorney general's chief of staff, and he treated immigration judges as political appointments instead of the career jobs that they are, taking recommendations from the White House and other Republican officials.

Crystal Williams, of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association, said the report's findings are not a surprise to those who've been watching the changing profile of the country's immigration courts.

"We've seen some people who perhaps were very helpful in the Florida elections in 2000 and who really have no other qualifications or knowledge of immigration who might be sitting in an immigration judge position now," Williams says.

In a press release, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he was disturbed by the report's findings.

"I have said many times, both to members of the public and to department employees, it is neither permissible nor acceptable to consider political affiliations in hiring of career department employees," Mukasey said. He also noted that the Justice Department has made many institutional changes to remedy the problems discussed in the report and will make more.

Today's report says Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft were not aware that Goodling, Sampson and others were breaking the law.

One senior Justice official who worked very closely with Goodling reacted to the report this way: "I didn't realize how widespread Monica's activity was, or how she got away with it. She was definitely on a mission. I had no clue."

Related NPR Stories

Nov. 2, 2007
Ex-Official Who Fired U.S. Attorneys Speaks Out
Nov. 10, 2007
Ex-U.S. Attorneys Continue To Scrutinize Gonzales
April 15, 2008
Justice Inquiry Centers On Dismissal, Gay Rumors

Newman's Noble Legacy

Newman planned for charitable legacy after death

By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press WriterSun Sep 28, 6:58 PM ET

Paul Newman broached the subject of his philanthropic legacy several years ago while fishing with friends Robert Forrester and David Horvitz off the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Even though he was a Hollywood icon — a 10-time Academy Award nominee known for his performances in such classic films as "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" — it was a rare moment in which Newman reflected on how he would be remembered after his death, Horvitz recalled Sunday.

"Most of the time he didn't think about legacy," he said. "He was pretty much in the moment."

But Newman, who died Friday of cancer at age 83, told the men he wanted to be remembered for the "Hole in the Wall" camps he helped to start across the world for children with life-threatening illnesses and to make sure that 100 percent of the profits from his popular food company, Newman's Own, would continue to benefit such camps and thousands of other charities.

Horvitz is chairman of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, which has 11 camps across the globe. Newman told him that he had been lucky in life, born with piercing blue eyes and gift for acting, and how it was unfair that so many innocent children were unlucky to have been burdened with devastating diseases such as AIDS or leukemia.

"He felt a need and an obligation to try to give back," Horvitz said.

"He loved the camps. He loved being there. He loved being with the kids," he added. "He loved their smiles and their laughter."

In 1982, Newman and writer A.E. Hotchner started Newman's Own to market Newman's original oil-and-vinegar dressing. It began as a joke and grew into a multimillion-dollar business.

Newman and his food company have given more than $250 million to charity over the years. Last year, $28 million from the sale of pasta sauces, salad dressings, popcorn and other products was distributed to a variety of social causes, including the Safe Water Network, which Newman helped start to provide safe drinking water to impoverished communities in places like India and Africa.

Until two years ago, Newman had the task of personally distributing the company's profits. But he and Forrester set up a private, independent foundation, known as Newman's Own Foundation, to carry on the work without Newman.

"Really, everything is in great shape," Forrester said of the foundation and the company after Newman's death.

"He said, 'When I'm not here, this foundation is to continue the tradition of giving all of this money away,'" Forrester said.

Forrester joked how such planning wasn't part of Newman's nature. A sign famously hangs in Newman's Westport, Conn., offices that reads, "If I had a plan I would be screwed."

Newman welcomed the opinions of others as he pursued the business and his philanthropic efforts. Forrester explained how the actor believed in the benefit of "creative chaos," where, as in a movie set, different people offer ideas about how a scene should be handled.

"That was Paul's enduring philosophy, and it worked," Forrester said. "It sounds awful, but it was part of Paul saying everybody had a voice."

At Forrester's request, Newman came up with what he wanted the Newman's Own company — he hated the word "brand" — to stand for. Newman listed quality food, fair labor practices, a mission focused on philanthropy and not profit, and an open environment in the workplace, not a bureaucratic one.

Forrester said that mission will continue, even though Newman is gone.

Also, his smiling face will still appear on bottles of marinade and boxes of frozen pizza, and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, will still sit on the Newman's Own Foundation Board of Directors. Newman typically sat in on all the board meetings, with the exception of the most recent one, about a week ago.

Forrester said Newman's friends at Newman's Own — some who have worked there from the early days of the company — plan to look for ways to expand the business in order to carry out the actor's wishes and give away even more money.

"We're stewards of this legacy," he said.


On the Net:

Newman's Own: http://www.newmansown.com

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

UPDATES & ACTIONS ALL WEEK on BAILOUT// Planned Ignorance & The Roots of US Financial Systems: Wake Up Congress & the People Now!

Monday: Call to Stop Paulson's Plunder This from Progressive Democrats...and Independents

(1) Call your Senators at 800-473-6711 or 202-224-3121 and say No Bailout!

(2) Email them too and tell your friends:



House ignores Bush, rejects $700B bailout bill

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer 8 minutes ago

In a stunning vote that shocked the capital and worldwide markets, the House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation's financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive without it.

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street, beginning their plunge even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was officially announced on the House floor. The Dow Jones industrials sank nearly 700 points for the day.

Democratic and Republican leaders alike said they were committed to trying again, though the Democrats said GOP lawmakers needed to provide more votes. Bush huddled with his economic advisers about a next step.

In the House chamber, as a digital screen recorded a cascade of "no" votes against the bailout, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York shouted news of the falling stocks. "Six hundred points!" he yelled, jabbing his thumb downward.

Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.

"No" votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.

The overriding question for congressional leaders was what to do next. Congress has been trying to adjourn so that its members can go out and campaign. "We are ready to continue to work on this," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

"The legislation may have failed; the crisis is still with us," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a news conference after the defeat.

"What happened today cannot stand," Pelosi said. "We must move forward, and I hope that the markets will take that message."

At the White House, Bush said, "I'm disappointed in the vote. ... We've put forth a plan that was big because we've got a big problem." He pledged to keep pressing for a measure that Congress would pass.

Republicans blamed Pelosi's scathing speech near the close of the debate — which attacked Bush's economic policies and a "right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation" of financial markets — for the vote's failure.

"We could have gotten there today had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House," Minority Leader John Boehner said. Pelosi's words, the Ohio Republican said, "poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get, to go south."

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi's speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.

Frank said that was a remarkable accusation by Republicans against Republicans: "Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country."

The presidential candidates kept close track — from afar.

In Colorado, Democrat Barack Obama said, "Democrats, Republicans, step up to the plate, get it done."

Republican John McCain spoke with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke before leaving Ohio for a campaign stop in Iowa, a spokeswoman said.

Monday's action had been preceded by unusually aggressive White House lobbying, and Fratto said that Bush had been making calls to lawmakers until shortly before the vote.

Bush and his economic advisers, as well as congressional leaders in both parties had argued the plan was vital to insulating ordinary Americans from the effects of Wall Street's bad bets. The version that was up for vote Monday was the product of marathon closed-door negotiations on Capitol Hill over the weekend.

"We're all worried about losing our jobs," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declared in an impassioned speech in support of the bill before the vote. "Most of us say, 'I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it — not me.' "

With their dire warnings of impending economic doom and their sweeping request for unprecedented sums of money and authority to bail out cash-starved financial firms, Bush and his economic chiefs have focused the attention of world markets on Congress, Ryan added.

"We're in this moment, and if we fail to do the right thing, Heaven help us," he said.

The legislation the administration promoted would have allowed the government to buy bad mortgages and other rotten assets held by troubled banks and financial institutions. Getting those debts off their books should bolster those companies' balance sheets, making them more inclined to lend and easing one of the biggest choke points in the credit crisis. If the plan worked, the thinking went, it would help lift a major weight off the national economy that is already sputtering.

More than a repudiation of Democrats, Frank said, Republicans' refusal to vote for the bailout was a rejection of their own president.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

INSERT: JUST IN Mon midday (before Bailout FAILS in HOUSE) from fellow home "news analyst" Keith L. Some info on the financial situation:

For those of us who are not economists, where do we go to get a sense of just what is going on? Is the bailout a good or bad deal? Are things going to get worse before they get better or a lot worse before they get better?

Two blogs I'm watching closely at the moment are Paul Krugman's blog at the NYT and Nouriel Roubini's blog at RGE Monitor. Roubini is the man of the moment for, to a great degree, predicting well in advance much of what has transpired over recent months and weeks. Economist Brad DeLong's blog and Barry Ritholtz's blog are also key.

To be clear, these are only a few examples. And we're going to try to put together a lengthier and more comprehensive list. But these are some places to start.

In case you're wondering, Krugman's take seems to be that we need a major government intervention and that even though the Dodd/Frank revision of the original Paulson plan is pretty bad on a lot of counts, it was probably the best the Dems could do with Bush still in office. And at this moment it's probably better than the other politically-viable alternatives -- including doing nothing and waiting for January. Here are the details from Paul.

What I find increasingly troubling is that a lot of people whose opinions I respect seem to think the buying up the toxic debts model is fundamentally misguided -- that we'd be better stewards of taxpayer money and accomplishing more good by using the government money to recapitalize these ailing firms by buying big equity stakes in them. In a sense, I guess, we'd be setting up what amounted to a limited lifetime US sovereign wealth fund (I know it's not precisely like that, but a little) to do what the Gulf emirates and others have been doing on an ad hoc basis through much of this year.

(ed.note: On most issues I write about on TPM, I do so with what I believe is some level of expertise, at least a solid enough understanding of the issues to know what I do and don't know. This high-wire economics and finance stuff is in a different category. So I'm trying to strike a balance between not writing about what I don't know about while also trying to point you in the direction of people who do. All of which is to say that on these topics I would more aggressively than usual check my speculation against other more knowledgable sources like the ones I've linked to above. -- jmm)

Late Update: Seems some economists don't think they're in a much better position than I am. From an academic economist ...

I suppose we economists are in a relatively good position to pontificate on the bailout. But it's an elephantine analysis. I know that the government is likely to do badly in most trading situations because of private information. I know that there can be liquidity problems in an economy.

But our real training is to boil a problem down to one or maybe two choice variables and figure out what effect small changes have on a fairly simple measure of welfare. Here, the problem is what to do with a melting down economy that has a central problem of information in a market (housing) that is beyond our comprehension in itself. I like to flatter myself that I am a leading housing economist, but all I know about the fundamental value of my house is that it is somewhere between $450,000 and $1,250,000. Economists do not have the tools to forecast with any precision what effect a major intervention would have, even if you held constant a lot of stuff that will not be held constant over the course of the intervention.

Things like "this bailout will create bad incentives down the road" may be true and important but are impossible to quantify on the same dimension as the also impossible to calculate "the economy will shut down if we don't do something soon."

Latter Update: I'm interested in what seems to be a growing consensus that Hank Paulson made an extremely bad decision letting Lehman go down the tubes.
--Josh Marshall

Continuing from the Progressive Dems (who sound sometimes like independents, Greens & others)

After a week of high-drama negotiations, Congress and Hank Paulson issued Bailout version 1.1, which is just the original Paulson pig with a lot of lipstick.

Republicans say the deal will be profitable for taxpayers, but they are lying - just as they did about the invasion of Iraq producing lower gas prices. It's a lie because Paulson has full power to pay too much for the securities and he will because his real goal is a bailout of bank executives and shareholders with our money - a massive ($2,333 per person!) transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich.

Democrats say they got oversight, accountability, and limits on executive compensation but each of these provisions is so full of Republican-written loopholes that they are meaningless - just like all other restrictions imposed on the Bush Administration, from Iraq to wiretapping. And that's before Bush simply negates any restrictions he doesn't like with one of his unconstitutional (and hence impeachable) signing statements.

So our answer remains ABSOLUTELY NOT.

The House will vote on Monday and the Senate will vote on Wednesday.

So call your Senators and Representative right now to say "No $700 Billion Bailout for Wall Street" - dial the Capitol switchboard at 800-473-6711 or 202-224-3121 or dial direct using the instant phone lookup on the right side of http://usalone.com

And if you have not e mailed your Senators and Representative , please do it now:

Find more information and comment here:

Thanks for all you do!

The Fiscally Insane Bailout Bill Might Not Pass -- Here's 5 Reasons It Shouldn't
By David Sirota, Blog for Our Future
Posted on September 29, 2008, Printed on September 29, 2008
Alternet dot org

There was news Sunday afternoon of a congressional deal to bailout Wall Street fat cats with $700 billion of taxpayer cash (you can read the draft legislation here). Though the deal negotiated between congressional leaders and the White House is better than what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson originally proposed early last week, it remains an insulting atrocity, having omitted even basic aid to homeowners, bankruptcy reforms and any modicum of future financial industry regulation. Now, the New York Times reports that the Democratic leadership may not have the votes to pass this bailout. So without further ado, here are the top 5 reasons (in no order) why every single member of Congress -- Democrat and Republican -- should vote this sucker down. Please feel free to copy and paste this post into an email to your congressperson. They are deciding right now -- let them hear your voice.

1.This Bailout's Inherent Fiscal Insanity Could Make Problem Worse

When an individual consumer uses a new credit card to pay off astounding debt from an old credit card, it's akin to check kiting, which is is illegal. Apparently, though, when the government does it, it's billed as Serious Public Policy. Because that's what this supposedly prudent bailout bill would do: Force taxpayers to borrow $700 billion from foreign banks to pay off the bad debt of Wall Street banks. During a crisis that is aimed at preventing interest rates from skyrocketing, nobody has been able to explain how adding almost a trillion dollars to the interest rate-exacerbating national debt would do anything other than undermine the plan's underlying objective. Worse, the U.S. Treasury Department itself admits that the $700 billion number is "not based on any particular data point" -- that is, they created it out of thin air because "We just wanted to choose a really large number." Slapping that amount of money onto the national credit card when our government can't even justify the amount is beyond absurd -- it is insane.

It didn't have to be this way, of course. As I noted in my newspaper column this week, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a temporary tax on millionaires to finance part of this bailout. Similarly, Blue Dog Democrats proposed a future tax on financial firms if and when taxpayers lose cash on the deal. These proposals were discarded in favor of language asking the government to "submit a plan to Congress on how to recoup any losses," according to the Associated Press. Not only is that language toothless, but it opens up the possibility of a plan being submitted that says we should raise middle-class taxes or slash middle-class social programs to pay for Wall Street's misbehavior.

2. Experts on both the left and right say this bailout could make things worse

Primum non nocere is the latin phrase for "first do no harm" -- the priority principle for any EMT working on a sick patient. It should be the same priority for Congress at this moment -- and a growing group of esteemed experts on both the Right and Left are insisting that this bailout bill could make things worse. Here's a review:

* The Washington Post reported on Friday, almost 200 academic economists "have signed a petition organized by a University of Chicago professor objecting to the plan on the grounds that it could create perverse incentives, that it is too vague and that its long-run effects are unclear."
* NYU's Nouriel Roubini, the visionary who had been predicting this meltdown, says "The Treasury plan (even in its current version agreed with Congress) is very poorly conceived and does not contain many of the key elements of a sound and efficient and fair rescue plan."
* Harvard's Ken Rogoff, a Former Federal Rerserve and IMF official, insists that the prospect of this bailout is, unto itself, taking a manageable problem and making it into a more intense crisis. He says that credit is frozen primarily because banks want to avoid dealing with other banks that might drive a hard bargain, and instead would rather wait for free money from the government. Without the prospect of that free money, Rogoff suggests that credit would probably begin moving again, if slowly.
* Dean Baker of the Center on Economic and Policy Research says that spending so much cash so quickly on such a poorly conceived plan could have the effect of making it impossible to fund economic stimulus that is the real way out of this mess. "Suppose the Paulson plan goes through," he writes. "It is virtually certain that the economy will weaken further and the number of foreclosures and people without jobs will continue to rise. This is the fallout from a collapsing housing bubble…When families respond to their loss of home equity by cutting back their consumption it will deepen the recession. In this context it might prove very important to have the resources needed to provide a substantial stimulus. [and] there is no doubt that this bailout will make further stimulus much more difficult to sell politically."

Meanwhile, it's not even close to clear that this is a problem that requires such an enormous response. As mentioned above, the Treasury Department admits it has absolutely no factual basis for requesting $700 billion -- an amount equivalent to about 5 percent of our entire economy. Additionally, the Washington Post reports that "Banks throughout the United States carried on with the business of making loans yesterday even as federal officials warned again that their industry is on the verge of collapse, suggesting that the overheated language on Capitol Hill may not reflect the reality on many Main Streets." Indeed, "many smaller banks said they were actually benefiting from the problems on Wall Street" and "even some of the nation's largest banks, which have pushed hard for a federal bailout, deny that the current situation is forcing them to reduce lending."

The questions, then, are simple: In the face of this bipartisan opposition from objective experts, why should a lawmaker instead believe the same Bush officials who helped create this crisis with their deregulation, the same Bush officials who just months ago said everything was AOK? Shouldn't there be almost complete unanimity among both objective and partisan observers before spending 5 percent of our entire economy after just one harried week of White House demands? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It's time, as The Who said, that we "don't get fooled again."

3. There are clearly better and safer alternatives

The mantra throughout the week has been that America has "no choice" but to pass Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion giveaway -- that, in effect, there are no alternatives. But that's an out-and-out lie -- one with a motive: Making it seem as if the only thing we can do is hand the keys to the federal treasury over to both parties' corporate campaign contributors.

The truth is, there are a number of alternatives. Here are just a few:

* In the Washington Post last week, Galbraith outlined a multi-pronged plan shoring up and expanding the FDIC, creating a Home Owners Loan Corporation, resurrecting Nixon's federal revenue sharing, and taxing stock transactions (a tax that would fall mostly on speculators) to finance the whole deal.
* The Service Employees International Union has drafted a plan based around a massive investment in public services and national health care, and regulatory reforms preventing foreclosures and forcing banks to renegotiate the predatory terms of their bad mortgages.
* For those in the mindless, zombie-ish "someone has to do something, so we have to do what the White House says!" camp, consider the possibility that you are under the spell of the same kind of White House fear that led us to invade Iraq because of Saddam's supposed WMD. Consider, perhaps, that there may not even be a compelling basis for doing anything just yet (or at least not anything nearly so huge), and that the whole reason there is this urgent push right now has nothing to do with the financial situation, and everything to do with creating the political dynamic to pass a wasteful giveaway -- one that couldn't be passed otherwise without a sense of emergency. And ask yourself why you would listen to this White House instead of listening to those experts who have been predicting this crisis and are now advising against this bailout -- experts like CEPR's Baker. In two separate posts (here and here), he says that letting the problem play out could be the best path, because Treasury and the Fed may already have the tools they need. Following this path, the worst thing that happens is "The Fed and Treasury will have to step in and take over the banks [which] is exactly what many economists argue should happen anyhow," Baker writes. "So the outcome of the worst case scenario is a really frightening day in which the whole world financial system is shaken to its core, followed by a government takeover of the banks. Eventually the government straightens out the books and sells them off again. But the real threat here is not to the economy, it is to the banks."
* Then there is the idea of simply taking the $700 billion and simply give it to struggling homeowners to help them pay off part of their mortgages. This hasn't even been discussed but the thought experiment it involves is important to understanding why there is, indeed, an alternative to the Paulson plan. If the root of this problem is people not being able to pay off their mortgages, and those defaults then devaluing banks' mortgage-backed assets, then simply helping people pay their mortgages would preserve the value of the mortgage-backed assets and recharge the market with liquidity. That would be a bottom-up solution helping the mass public, rather than a top-down move helping only financial industry executives.

On this latter proposal, some may argue that giving any relief to homeowners is "unfair" in that those homeowners created their problems, so why should taxpayers have to help them? But then, is helping homeowners any less fair than simply giving all the money away to Wall Street, no strings attached? I'd say no -- and helping homeowners also serves a second purpose: namely, keeping people in their homes, which not only helps them, but helps an entire neighborhood (as any homeowner knows, nearby properties can be devalued when foreclosures hit).

4. Any Incumbent Voting for This Puts Themselves At Risk of Being Thrown Out of Office

As a preface, let me state that I think we live in a country where politicians too often listen to their donors and to the Establishment rather than their constituents, not the other way around. America is a country where our leaders dishonestly invoke the concepts of "Statesmanship" and "Seriousness" and their supposed hatred of "pandering" to justify ignoring what the public wants (as if giving the public what it wants is somehow not the objective of a democratic republic). So, in short, I don't think there's anything wrong with this bill being "politicized" by coming down the pike right before an election -- in fact, I think it's a good thing because the election -- and the fear of being thrown out of office forces our politicians to at least consider what the public wants. I mean, really -- would we rather have this decision made after the election, when the public can be completely ignored?

Polls overwhelmingly show a public that sees voting for this bill as an act of economic treason whereby the bipartisan Washington elite robs taxpayer cash to give their campaign contributors a trillion-dollar gift. As just two of many examples, Bloomberg News' poll shows "decisive" opposition to the bailout proposal, and Rasmussen reports that their surveys show "the more voters learn about the proposed $700 billion federal bailout plan for the U.S. economy, the more they don't like it." Put another way, this bailout proposal has unified both the Right and Left sides of the populist uprising that I described in my new book and that is now even more angry than ever.

Any sitting officeholder that votes for this -- whether a Democrat or a Republican -- should expect to get crushed under a wave of populist-themed attacks from their opponents. We've already seen it start. In Oregon, Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley (D) is airing scathing television ads hammering Republican incumbent Gordon Smith for potentially supporting the deal. Similarly, this morning on Meet the Press, we saw Republican Senate challenger Bob Schaffer (CO) dishonestly papering over his own votes for deregulation and ripping into his opponent Rep. Mark Udall (D) for potentially supporting the deal. Incumbents, get ready for that kind of election-changing heat in your face if you vote "yes."

This, by the way, could play out in the presidential contest. Barack Obama has been taking the advice of the Wall Street insiders in his campaign in endorsing this bailout. McCain has endorsed the vague outline, but he may ultimately back off once he sees the details, allowing him to then run the last month of the campaign as the economic populist in the race. I'm not saying it would work, considering McCain's 26-year record of supporting the deregulatory agenda that created this crisis. But such a move could end up help him flank Obama on the defining economic issues of the race.

5. Corruption and Sleaze Are Swirling Around These Bailouts -- and America Knows It

The amount of brazen corruption and conflicts of interest swirling around this deal is odious, even by Washington's standards -- and polls suggest the public inherently understands that. Consider these choice nuggets:

* Warren Buffett is simultaneously advising Obama to support the deal, while he himself is investing in the company that stands to make the most off the deal.
* McCain's campaign is run by lobbyists from the companies that stand to make a killing off a no-strings government bailout.
* The New York Times reports that the person advising Paulson and Bernanke on the AIG bailout was the CEO of Goldman Sachs -- a company with a $20 billion stake in AIG.
* The Obama campaign's top spokesman pushing this deal is none other than Roger Altman, who Bloomberg News reports is simultaneously "advising a group of investors who are trying to prevent their shares from being diluted in the U.S. takeover of American International Group Inc." -- that is, who have a direct financial interest in the current iteration of the bailout.

Add to this the fact that the negotiations over this bill have been largely conducted in secret, and you have one of the most sleazy heists in American history.


If this bill passes, it will be a profound referendum on the dominance of money over democracy in America. That -- and that alone -- would be the only thing an objective observer could take away from the whole thing.

Money will have compelled politicians to not only vote for substantively dangerous policy, but vote for that policy even at their own clear electoral peril. Such a vote will confirm that the only people these politicians believe they are responsible for representing are are the fat-cat recipients of the $700 billion -- the same fat cats who underwrite their political campaigns, the same fat-cats who engineered this crisis, and want to keep profiteering off it. Any lawmaker who takes that position is selling out the country, as is any issue-based political non-profit group -- liberal or conservative -- that uses its resources to defend a "yes" vote rather than demand a "no" vote. This is a bill that forces taxpayers to absorb all of the pain, and Wall Street executives to reap all of the gain. It doesn't even force the corporate executives (much less the government leaders) culpable in this free fall to step down -- it lets them stay fat and happy in their corner office suites in Manhattan.

Even if they believe that something must be done right now, lawmakers should still vote no on this specific bill, and force one of the very prudent alternatives to the forefront. They shouldn't just vote no on Paulson's proposal -- they should vote hell no. Our economy's future depends on it.

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, "The Uprising," was just released this month. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network -- both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.
© 2008 Blog for Our Future All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/100700/
Posting to Headlines Wire of Scoop
Column: Michael Collins
Date: Monday, 29 September 2008
Time: 10:18 pm NZT

Bailout Bill Defies Will of the People

Contact for your member of the House or Representatives.

White House and Congress Suspend Democracy To Help Wall Street

Michael Collins
"Scoop" Independent News

(Wash. DC) The White House and Congressional leaders from both
parties announced a tentative bill to bailout failed financial
institutions. The bill is a response to the $700 billion initially
request by the White House last week. The bill allocates $250
billion to start with a total authorized of $700 billion. The
money will cover the losses of distressed Wall Street firms facing
bankruptcy due to bad investments, primarily in risky real estate
securities known as subprime securities and "derivatives."

There were no provisions announced to bailout citizens facing
foreclosure or help with their bad investments.

Congress plans vote on the legislation today, Monday, Sept. 29,
if the leadership gets their way.

Calls to Capitol Hill are reported to be 30 to 1 opposed to legislation
that bails out the rogue Wall Street investors. Public opinion
polling has shown a majority opposed to the legislation, unless
the question contains the unproven assumption that the economy
will collapse in a few days without a bill. In a remarkable
show of opposition to the bill, 1,200 marched down Wall Street
Friday. There were also protests in Chicago and Ohio plus more
planned for Monday, Sept. 29.

Sept. 25, 2008 Wall Street bailout protest Video

This public stance developed in spite of dire warnings of a national
and global collapse of the economy should the legislation fail
to materialize. These predictions are not universal, by far.
A public appeal by 200 economists opposes the congressional
rush to judgment, summarized in these terms:

" --- we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings,
and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to
wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the
U.S. economy for years to come." See Story: McClatchy Newspapers,
Sept 25, 2008 with Open letter & signatures

Concerns about Proposed Bailout Bill

The original bailout proposed by the White House gave the Secretary
of the Treasury unlimited discretion in doling out $700 billion
and barred any Congressional or judicial review. The new legislation
calls for "consultation" with the following entities. Please
note that not one of those to be consulted is an elected official
and that Congress is out of the loop.

"(b) CONSULTATION.—In exercising the authority under this
section, the Secretary shall consult with the Board of Governors
of the Federal Reserve System, the Corporation, the Comptroller
of the Currency, the Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision,
and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development." Title I,
Sec 101, (b) "Consultation" page 7, lines 18-23 and pages 15,
lines 23-24, and page 16, lines 1-9.

The people get involved in the decision making process, presuming
Congress is listening. Sec.115. Graduated Authorization to Purchase
(pages 40 - 49) provides an option to overrule any particular
bailout. Congress has 15 days after a purchase notice by Treasury
to introduce a joint resolution disapproving of the bill. The
resolution has a tight window to passage, three days, and is
subject to a presidential veto. The "fast track" aspects of
this guarantee the same types of hurried votes characterized
by a majority of members failing to even read a proposed bill
(e.g., The Patriot Act).

The bill requires that the Secretary of the Treasury report to
Congress no more than seven days after a commitment to purchase
a failed financial institution or at $50 billion dollar disbursement
intervals. Title 1, Sec. 105, Reports, (b) Tranche Reports to
Congress, (b) Timing, page 19, lines 7-24 and page 20, lines
1-10. The only direct option Congress has is the above mentioned
"Joint Resolution of Disapproval."

The bill addresses overpayment for troubled firms with the intent
of preventing "unjust enrichment." This is done "by preventing
the sale of a troubled asset to the Secretary at a higher price
than what the seller paid to purchase the asset." Title I, Sec
101, (e) Unjust Enrichment, page 9, lines 15-18.

What if the price the seller paid for the asset was an inflated
home price in a down real estate market at the time of a bailout?
By paying higher than market value prices, not limited by the
bill, "enrichment" would be guaranteed.

Even if that there were a real prohibition that failed firms
not make out under this bill, there is an open gate to enrichment,
firms in "conservatorship or receivership."

"This subsection does not apply to troubled assets acquired in
a merger or acquisition, or a purchase of as sets from a financial
institution in conservatorship or receivership, or that has initiated
bankruptcy proceedings under title 11, United States Code."
Title I, Sec 101, (d), page 9, lines 18-23.

Thus, there can be what would be considered "unjust enrichment"
if a firm just declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

How long will it be before people compare this generous bankruptcy
provision for billion dollar firms with the draconian bankruptcy
reform bill passed by Congress in 2005?

What if the Public Knew This?

On Saturday, Sept. 27, Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times
reported a remarkable story that may further shake public confidence
in the bailout and the man in charge, Secretary of the Treasury,
Henry M. Paulson. The Secretary held a top level meeting at
the New York Federal Reserve Bank with "the nation’s most powerful
regulators and bankers." There was only one Wall Street executive
in the room, Lloyd C. Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, the investment
banking firm Paulson ran as chief executive before joining the
Bush administration.

Discussed at the meeting was the fact that AIG owed Goldman Sachs
$20 billion and was about to default. Following the meeting
AIG was bailed out to the tune of $85 billion dollars. Paulson's
former firm, Goldman Sachs, clearly benefited as a result of
the AIG bailout.

How would citizens react to that, were it presented as part of
the bailout debate?

They would probably be furious and demand that there be careful
consideration and deliberation of this bill. They might even
determine that it was blackmail with the people who caused the
problem threatening a world financial meltdown if they don't
get their way. Then they would connect the dots between the
bailout and the head dispenser of funds, Secretary of the Treasury
Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs. This firm received
huge financial benefits from Secretary Paulson before this bill
was even conceived.

The will of the people is just "collateral damage" if members
of Congress determine that details like democracy and honesty
are less important than the instructions of their leadership
and the Wall Street firms that created this problem in the first


This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution
of authorship, a link to this article, and image credit acknowledgment.

Please contact your member of the House or Representatives.
House Committee on Financial Services Web Site (for original
House bill and updates on legislation)
See Original House Bailout Bill Archived by Michael Collins & many others
"A Cascade of Ruin" The Money Party (part 6)
The next disaster: AIG’s Dangerous Collapse & A Credit Derivatives
Risk Primer by Daniel R. Amerman, CFA, Sept. 17, 2008

************* Scoop dot co dot nx

“It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system for, if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” — Henry Ford

"Capital must protect itself in every possible manner by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages must be foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When, through a process of law, the common people lose their homes they will become more docile and more easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of government, applied by a central power of wealth under control of leading financiers. This truth is well known among our principal men now engaged in forming an imperialism of Capital to govern the world. By dividing the voters through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance. Thus by discreet action we can secure for ourselves what has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished."
- USA Banker's Magazine, August 25 1924

“Allow me to control the issue and the nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws!”— Amshell Rothschild

Banks that hold the controlling stock in the Federal Reserve Corporation:

Rothschild Banks of London and Berlin
Lazard Brothers Bank of Paris
Israel Moses Sieff Banks of Italy
Warburg Bank of Hamburg and Amsterdam
Lehman Brothers Bank of New York
Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York
Chase Manhattan Bank of New York
Goldman Sachs Bank of New York