Running down the press:
The dolor rose sharply yesterday on desultory, predictable trading of bullshit between Charlie Gibson and Sarah Palin.
As Palin recited her ABC, Hurricane Ike threatened — even the New York Post pushes aside its gossip this morning to warn, “‘CERTAIN DEATH’: HURRICANE IKE LOOMS AS TEXAS CATASTROPHE.”
The news is even worse in the financial world.
You’ll be darning your socks if the U.S. economy doesn’t stop its slide into a recession and instead falls all the way into a depression.
The best review of that tragedy, which you will forced to take personally, is in today’s Wall Street Journal, under the bland headline “Credit Crisis Strains Government’s Options.”
The story is anything but bland. As Jon Hilsenrath, David Enrich, and David Solomon write:
A year into a credit crisis that started with troubled mortgages to sketchy borrowers, the financial system is reeling once again, casting a pall over a widening array of financial institutions just days after history-making efforts by policy makers to contain the problem.
With the share prices of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and other financial firms on a roller coaster, the crisis could be entering a critical stage.
The Federal Reserve has already slashed interest rates to counteract a deepening credit freeze and instituted its broadest expansion of lending facilities since the Great Depression to keep financial markets functioning. Over the weekend, the nation’s two main mortgage finance firms — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — were placed under government control.
This is not a reality show we’re talking about. This is actuality.
On down in the analysis, the WSJ trio hint of a possible future in which private-equity moneybags will be taking over our banking system and will operate it with even less regulation than now exists. They note that even foreign governments are starting to shy away from plunging their money into faltering U.S. institutions — they’re already too heavily invested in them. The story continues:
Private-equity firms face different hurdles [in plunging their billions into “rescues” that will make them billions more]. If they own too much of an institution that accepts deposits, they would open themselves to federal regulation as bank-holding companies. The rules limit them to less than 25% of the voting stock of a regulated depository institution.
Since April’s large cash infusions into Washington Mutual Inc. and National City Corp., private-equity firms — with some $450 billion in untapped funds, according to London-based data provider Preqin — haven’t made any major investments in capital-starved banks.
Executives from such firms as Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group have been using the credit crunch to lobby the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Reserve to allow them to own bigger stakes of financial firms without having to face regulation.
You think you’re in the grip of ruthless bosses now? Just wait.
Post: ‘THE CAPED CUSS-ADER’
Lame head, but the inimitable Darah Gregorian comes through again (this time sharing a byline with Rebecca Rosenberg):
Holy $#!+, Batman!
DC Comics is asking stores around the country to destroy tens of thousands of copies of a new Batman comic book because of a printing error that revealed a slew of obscenities.
“Text every friend you’ve got, s- – -heads,” Batgirl tells a group of incredibly foulmouthed, drug-dealing thugs in “All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder” No. 10.
“Sell your poison somewhere else. This here arcade belongs to the f- – -ing Batgirl.”
The S- and F-words were supposed to be blacked out, but two shades of black were used, and the expletives are clearly legible, as are the thugs’ A- and F-words – and even a number of C-bombs.
Well, at least this controversy is over. Can there be any doubt now that Sarah Palin is more than qualified to be vice president? After all, she says she is. From Jim Rutenberg‘s press release:
“I’m ready,” Ms. Palin answered without any hesitation in an interview with ABC News on Thursday, saying she had felt no doubt about accepting Senator John McCain’s offer to run as his vice-presidential nominee.
You want the real scoop-sifting, go to Slate‘s Jack Shafer, who crafted the best-angled lede:
Without being smarmy about it or unfurling gotcha questions, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson demonstrated that he knows volumes more about national security and foreign policy than does Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Laura Meckler‘s piece in the WSJ is also worth a read.
And McClatchy’s Mark Washburn points out that no veep candidate has ever been so carefully shielded by her handlers:
No other nominee in memory for such high national office has spent a week under a “no interview” blanket, including such news-making vice-presidential candidates as Geraldine Ferraro and Dan Quayle.
That’s almost as scary as the radically inexperienced Palin herself.
Unless you’ve been raped. Palin’s home-state critics, including former governor Tony Knowles, are on the offensive, as McClatchy’s George Bryson reports in the Anchorage Daily News:
Knowles broke new ground while answering a reporter’s question on whether Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor.
True, Knowles said.
Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill — signed into law by Knowles — that banned the practice statewide.
“There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla,” Knowles said.
Douglas Montero‘s story is a new twist on welfare moms:
Hundreds of workers at the city’s embattled child-welfare agency are worrying about their own welfare as they face the possibility of layoffs stemming from a plan to overhaul the way it protects kids, sources told The Post yesterday.
The plan, called “Improved Outcomes for Children,” is expected to dismantle an entire division of 600 workers, which could mean layoffs for 200 to 400 employees who cannot be absorbed within the Administration for Children’s Services or the other city agencies, officials said.
Washington Post: ‘Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 In Talk to Troops in Alaska’
Anne E. Kornblut provides some truly unscripted material on Palin — her piece combines a Palin campaign appearance with the troops with the ABC interview:
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 — Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”
The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
Smartly, Kornblut didn’t inflict the “I’m ready” bullshit on readers until the ninth graf.
Part of a sprawling Geezer Issue. You’ll have plenty of time to have someone read it to you before you catch today’s early-bird meal.