Diary

MI Morning Update 12-10-08

693 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY

December 10, 2008

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Blagojevich’s "conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."
-U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald

MORNING UPDATE;

ILLINOIS EMBARASSMENT…When people like Blagojevich win, whether Republican or Democrat, we all lose. Republicans and Democrats must together say "enough is enough. Politicians that abuse their position, like Blagojevich, Foley, Spitzer and Stevens as well as peddlers of influence like Jack Abramoff have slowly eroded the faith of the American people in their democracy. They bring shame, not only on their party, but on their country. When people like Blagojevich win, whether Republican or Democrat, we all lose."

REPUBLICAN JEWISH COALITION…I had an opportunity to attend their reception in Washington and thank many of them for the tremendous job they did during the presidential campaign. The RJC took some very strong stands and helped organize several of Senator Lieberman’s trips on behalf of John McCain. I had a chance to meet with their Executive Director Matt Brooks and thanked him personally for all they did in Michigan and beyond.

DC & MARYLAND YOUNG REPUBLICANS…I has a chance to visit with a group of YR’s last evening and they met to discuss the future and their role. I have to say I was impressed with the excitement and commitment in the room. Clearly, the future of our party is bright!

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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

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Articles of Interest online.


White House agrees to $15B auto bailout

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

WASHINGTON — The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders said Monday that they were close to agreeing on the terms of a $15 billion government rescue of the American automobile industry that would be directed by one or more appointees of President Bush and would impose expansive federal oversight of the auto companies.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said she hoped that Mr. Bush’s appointee — or car czar, as the position has come to be known — would not need to be replaced by President-elect Barack Obama, raising the prospect that the outgoing and incoming administrations would cooperate in selecting someone.

The president’s designee would disburse the short-term emergency loans to General Motors and Chrysler, which are at risk of financial collapse, and would directly supervise the reorganization plans that the auto manufacturers have agreed to carry out in exchange for government aid. The government also could receive warrants that would give it equity stakes in the companies.

Ill. Gov. Blagojevich arrested on federal charges for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat

by Mike Robinson | The Associated Press

CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama’s election as president.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.


Governor Accused in Scheme to Sell Obama’s Senate Seat

By MONICA DAVEY

CHICAGO — The governor of Illinois brazenly put up for sale his appointment of Barack Obama’s successor in the United States Senate, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

In recorded conversations with advisers, the governor, Rod R. Blagojevich, seemed alternately boastful, flip and spiteful about the Senate choice, which he crassly likened at one point to that of a sports agent shopping around a free agent for the steepest price, a federal affidavit showed. At times, he even weighed aloud appointing himself to the job, the prosecutors said.

“I’ve got this thing,” Mr. Blagojevich said on one recording, according to the affidavit, “and it’s [expletive] golden. And I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not going to do it. And I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”


No Car Czar Please — We’re Americans

By Maggie Gallagher

The Wall Street Journal reports that Washington politicians are close to a bailout for the Big 3 automakers in Detroit. It’s a complex deal and details are emerging, but President Bush, in one last great, well-intentioned and deeply destructive act, is about to help Congressional Democrats nationalize the auto industry.

"The auto industry would undergo a restructuring process akin to bankruptcy reorganization, only with fewer rigors and with the government, not a judge, in control, and with many associated political complications," reports The Wall Street Journal. "The program would be overseen by an official, tapped by President George W. Bush, whom congressional aides and lawmakers describe as an ‘auto czar.’ This person would act as a kind of trustee with authority to bring together labor, management, creditors and parts suppliers to negotiate a restructuring plan. He or she also would be able to review any transaction or contract valued at more than $25 million."

So President Bush, apparently delighted with the success Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has had as our banking czar at jump-starting the economy, would replicate that model for another industry and concentrate immense power in one politician’s hands in the vain hope that something good will come of it.


Top former Fannie, Freddie excutives to testify

Alan Zibel / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are poised to trade barbs Tuesday about who deserves most of the blame for the collapse and government takeover of mortgage finance titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The two companies, which were seized by federal regulators in September, have become highly charged political targets in the debate over what caused the U.S. housing crisis and the resulting financial fallout.

Four former top executives are scheduled to be grilled at the hearing, which is being led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, starting at 10 a.m. EST. But there are doubts about whether the hearing will produce any solid conclusions or will just devolve into partisan bickering.

Supreme Court: No review of Obama’s eligibility to serve


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth.

The court did not comment on its order Monday rejecting the call by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., to intervene in the presidential election.

Donofrio says that since Obama had dual nationality at birth — his mother was American and his Kenyan father at the time was a British subject — he cannot possibly be a "natural born citizen," one of the requirements the Constitution lists for eligibility to be president.



Lawmakers: Fannie, Freddie execs at fault

Alan Zibel / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Three months after the government seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lawmakers on Tuesday blamed former top executives at the mortgage giants for fueling the financial market turmoil that has dragged the country into a recession.

And the housing fallout continues. The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending U.S. home sales beat expectations in October — but deeply discounted foreclosures and distressed sales accounted for nearly half the deals.

Internal e-mails and other documents released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee show that former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron disregarded recommendations that they avoid riskier types of loans.

The Democratic Culture of Corruption

By Michelle Malkin

Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi can stop clucking now. For the last three years, Democratic leaders cheered GOP ethics woes. Dean accused Republicans of making "their culture of corruption the norm." Pelosi touted cleanliness as a liberal virtue. But with the eye-popping pay-for-play and bribery case against Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich topping a year of nationwide Democratic scandals, the corruption chickens are coming home to roost.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called the breadth and depth of charges against Blagojevich and his Democratic Chief of Staff John Harris "staggering." That’s an understatement. Anything that breathed was a potential shakedown target. It’s the Chicago way. Democrat Blago’s so dirty he’d hit up a children’s hospital for money. Oh, wait. He’s accused of doing that, too.

Democrat Blago allegedly conspired to use his power to appoint President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat as a bargaining chip for financial payment. He explored trading on that authority for an appointment as Health and Human Services secretary or as an ambassador or for installment in a cushy union position. (He discussed his trading scheme with an unnamed "SEIU (Service Employees International Union) official" and unnamed "various consultants" in Washington.)

Pakistan: We’re ready for war with India

The remarks by Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who also insisted he would not hand over any suspects in the Mumbai attacks, come amid mounting tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

India has said it is keeping all options open following last month’s carnage by the Mumbai terrorists, who killed more than 170 people.

"We do not want to impose war, but we are fully prepared in case war is imposed on us," said Mr Qureshi.

"We are not oblivious to our responsibilities to defend our homeland. But it is our desire that there should be no war."

Global demand for oil to plummet

By Javier Blas in London and Krishna Guha in Washington

Global oil demand will collapse next year and commodities will not return to the highs they reached this summer in the foreseeable future, two authoritative reports said on Tuesday as they forecast a long and painful worldwide recession.

The stark conclusions came as the World Bank’s chief economist predicted that the world faced “the worst recession since the Great Depression”.

The US energy department said global oil demand will fall this year and next, marking the first two consecutive years’ decline in 30 years.