Chapter 13. What's it All About, Barney?

At issue is the human mind, which has to be shocked, seduced, or otherwise provoked out of its habitual stupor.

E.L. Doctorow, Creationists: Selected Essays

I had to dig up a good story, one that would show that Harry's web site was expanding into the realm of political clout. The site reprinted virtually all ARS news articles, as well as opinion pieces. What it needed was something truly original, a story geared to the exact needs of our audience.

This was a turning point. If we were ever going to find a group of like-minded investors, this was our moment, and Harry's web site was our instrument of mass money recovery.

My first chance to find congressional insiders willing to talk came in the wake of the September 18, 2008, hearings on the ARS situation held by Rep. Barney Frank's Committee on Financial Services. But I would have to chase down this insider for all I was worth. Attendance at the hearing would guarantee little more than a news story. What I needed was someone willing to provide insight—not hype, not political convenience-speak, but a clear, objective voice. Fortunately the hearing provided an opening.

The auction-rate session was held at the Rayburn House Office Building on a brisk autumn day—sunny and cloudless in that mid-Atlantic way that makes all things seem possible. The gold- and red-tinged leaves stood out splendidly against the scrubbed autumn sky. On days such as this it's easy to forget Washington is built on a foundation ...

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