Daily Flog: America's King Henry; money bailout for Wall Street but no bailout from Mets' bullpen

Please recall what Mr. Dooley said a century ago: "Trust everybody, but cut the cards." Especially when people like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are wheeling and dealing.

Under the bailout, we won't need to appoint Mike Bloomberg our economic czar. (He'll be free to change NYC's law and remain our mayor.)

Paulson would no longer be just another Cabinet member. He would become King Henry.

That's not hyperbole if you believe that bullshit walks while money talks. Your money. Which he would use, at his discretion (not yours or your elected officials') to bail out his Wall Street pals. As the N.Y. Post puts it: "YOUR $700 BIL TO THE RESCUE."

Paulson's control over your money would be unprecedented. In "Treasury Would Emerge With Vast New Power," the N.Y. Times's Floyd Norris writes:

Rarely if ever has one man had such broad authority to spend government money as he sees fit, with no rules requiring him to seek out the lowest possible price for assets being purchased.

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You become the Belgian Congo, and he becomes your King Leopold, controlling your financial resources. Instead of keeping the loot, he'll hand it off to bankers; hopefully he won't cut off your hands.

Who elected this guy? Under the bill, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs can auction off assets, or he can just simply set prices. Every pension fund, bank, broker, pol will have to kiss his butt. Weak "oversight" panels would supposedly keep an eye on him, but that wouldn't amount to much control over Paulson's power. Norris adds:

Mr. Paulson can choose to buy from any financial institution that does business in the United States, or from pension funds, with wide discretion over what he will buy and how much he will pay. Under most circumstances, banks owned by foreign governments are not eligible for the money, but under some conditions, the secretary can choose to bail out foreign central banks.

Leave aside regime frontman George W. Bush's brief public P.R. appearance early this morning on the White House lawn. It was supposed to soothe bankers and traders and big investors, but it didn't calm any of them, based on early action in the markets this morning.

What will matter to them is what Paulson says and will do. He's about to become the most powerful man in America. No exaggeration. Just follow the money — and the guy who will control it.

What really went on in the private meetings that resulted in a bailout plan that would give the unelected Paulson more direct power over the nation's money than FDR had during Depression I?

Which leads to this question: Are Dick Cheney and Bush as paranoid and vain as Richard Nixon? Please say yes.

Then we'd have videotape of at least some of those private meetings Paulson conducted to hammer out the Cash for Crash bill. Maybe we'd even have video of Paulson going down on Nancy Pelosi in the White House to plead for a bailout of his Wall Street pals.

It probably wouldn't be the first time that Hank Paulson has been secretly taped in the White House. Before launching his career as an investment banker, Paulson was an aide to John Ehrlichman during Watergate. He's certainly familiar with private meetings in the White House about how to bail out an administration. Maybe he even sat in on some of those famous meetings of the coverup conspirators more than 30 years ago.

To refresh your memory, here's a snippet from the momentous July 16, 1973, Watergate hearing:

SAMUEL DASH, Watergate Committee Chief Counsel: If either Mr. Dean, Mr. Haldeman, Mr. Ehrlichman, Mr. Colson had particular meetings in the Oval Office with the president on any particular dates that have been testified before this committee, there would be a tape recording with the president of that full conversation, would there not?

ALEXANDER BUTTERFIELD, former Nixon aide: Yes, sir.

Mr. DASH: So if one were, therefore, to reconstruct the conversations at any particular date, what would be the best way to reconstruct those conversations, Mr. Butterfield, in the President's Oval Office?

Mr. BUTTERFIELD: Well, in the obvious manner, Mr. Dash — to obtain the tape and play it.

Play it again, Sam.

But first . . .


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