Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 16, 2009

MONDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* The White House seems to want AIG's bonus money back, and has an idea how to make that happen.

* South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's (R) waiver request on stimulus funds was, not surprisingly, rejected. Sanford has vowed, however, to continue to work in opposition to recovery efforts in his state.

* In the midst of a major political showdown between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court will be reinstated.

* Iraqis are slowly but surely becoming more optimistic about their country's future.

* Ali Frick asks a good question: "Why Are AIG's Contracts Sacrosanct But Not Union Workers' Contracts?"

* Remember when Bush used to say, "We don't torture?" We tortured.

* I think Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has some explaining to do.

* Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) wants a commission to probe the 2001 anthrax attacks. Sounds like a very good idea.

* Tomorrow will be the last print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the paper will now shift to online-only editions. It's the largest U.S. paper to cease printing operations as part of the recent downturn for the industry.

* AmeriCorps poised to get an expansion boost.

* Comedian Jackie Mason offers a great example for my "conversation enders" file: "If it's a racist society, the white people are the ones being persecuted...."

* I don't want to alarm anyone, but it appears that Fox News will deliberately take quotes from Democrats out of context to help Republicans' attack efforts. Shocking, I know.

* House Blue Dogs won't force strict offsets as part of healthcare reform. That's definitely a good thing.

* Don Imus has prostate cancer.

* Why on earth is CNN's John King referring to Human Events as if it were a legitimate news outlet?

* Montel Williams? On Air America?

* If I didn't know better, I might think the Washington Times, a project started by cult-leader Sun Myung Moon to be a conservative newspaper, isn't objective in its coverage.

* And finally, the New York Times added a "graphic books" section to its bestseller list? Ah, the sweet smell of legitimacy....

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Obama to the OC on Wednesday.

Into the belly of the beast

Posted by: OC Progressive on March 16, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Montel Williams? On Air America?

Oh boy. Maybe we can get Sylvia Browne to have a seance with the founding fathers and really find out what they meant.

Sigh.

Posted by: doubtful on March 16, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh boy. Maybe we can get Sylvia Browne to have a seance

Or have Trig Palin paternity tested.

Posted by: Danp on March 16, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

That's good about Obama wanting to hit the toxic asshats (sigh, not my invention) at AIG. On NPR, Obama econ adviser Austan Goolsbee (IIRC) said it looked suspicious for AIG employees to get "performance" bonuses when they did so lousy. (He sounds so intelligent and straightforward, no water carrying for the Bush Base.) Also, AIG Mgmt. could get in trouble if it looks like they arranged this in anticipation of getting Bailout money etc. (Fraud charges possible? A long shot, but so delicious a thought ....)

Breaking news on AIG from another front, but was also mentioned in the featured link: Just after 17:00, NY Atty General Cuomo is going after them. Sometimes States can do more, because of legal structures? Note the interesting legal twist: If the US government hadn't saved AIG, the recipients wouldn't have been eligible (likely), so there may be complex contingency arguments. In any case, we don't have to accept the glib excuses from Liddy at face value.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/ny-attorney-general-subpoenas-aig/story.aspx?guid={F8AF54FD-0BE7-4C6E-9343-8052CEA00D6C}&dist=morenews

NY Attorney General subpoenas AIG over bonus payments
By Alistair Barr
Last update: 5:02 p.m. EDT March 16, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) --

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed American International Group (AIG) to get information about $165 million in bonuses the insurer is paying. Cuomo said in an interview with CNBC that his office wants to understand why AIG felt compelled to pay the bonuses to employees of its derivatives unit, the main source of the insurer's troubles. Cuomo wants to see the contracts and is demanding a list of the bonus recipients. He noted that if the government hadn't saved AIG, the bonus contracts would have been void. Contracts can also be re-negotiated, he added.

Posted by: Neil B ♣ on March 16, 2009 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Jackie Mason is full of crap. I've seen his act a few times & besides being stunningly unfunny, it's littered with ethnic slurs & name-calling. While you could argue whether or not "shvartze" is a perjorative, I think the insult is in the intent. Given Mason's history, I very much doubt the innocence of his remark.

I've never found any of the 'old-school-Catskills comedians very funny. Most of their "humour" is mainly about insulting people & they're from a time when it was acceptable to be openly racist. Oddly, most of these old-school "comedians" are usually conservative.

Posted by: raff on March 16, 2009 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Why on earth is CNN's John King referring to Human Events as if it were a legitimate news outlet?


Because John King is King of FantasyWorld.

Posted by: alan on March 16, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

definition: sanfordize (U.S. slang)

Term used by unemployed people in South Carolina when they lost their houses, cars, credit, etc etc etc due to Governor Sanford's opposition to his state taking the President Obama (2009-2017) stimulus plan to describe what happened to them. cf: "What happened? I was sanfordized."

Posted by: Kurt on March 16, 2009 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

The White House seems to want AIG's bonus money back, and has an idea how to make that happen.

My congressman, Brad Sherman, was on the local NPR outlet this afternoon, and he pointed out that if we just put AIG into receivership, the problem of the bonuses would be taken care of, plus the banks who made these fraudulent deals would get "haircuts" over what we would pay out to them (while maintaining the municipal bonds that have to be paid). Not only that, but the leadership of AIG and all of that unit that committed all of the crimes could be prosecuted for fraud.

of course, that would mean that - as Sherman pointed out - Obama would have to stop taking advice from Wall Street's "Man in the White House," Lawrence Summers.

Sherman also pointed out that there is all kinds of legal precedent for the government to step in and unilaterally modify contracts, starting with what was done to the UAW contracts when they bailed out GM, to what Richard Nixon did to contracts all across the country when he instituted wage-and-price controls.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 16, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

* Iraqis are slowly but surely becoming more optimistic about their country's future. -- Steve Benen

Compared to 2006 and 2007? Not surprising. Now let's see what Iraqis thought abut their future in 2001. We used to have, usually from Think Progress, regular reports vis the status of Iraq's standard of living (access to clean water, electricity, medical services, etc) and how it compared to the pre-invasion statistics. But I haven't seen one of those in ages.

Raff, @18:01,

When used by Jews of the old generation, "Schwartze" *is* a pejorative, no two ways about it. I still remember my Mother and her friends responding to "Look Who's Coming to Dinner" with "tose poor parents; they do their best for the daughter and she brings home a schwartze". The rest of the utterance was in Polish but, to describe the unspeakable calamity which befell the "poor parents", they reverted to Yiddish.

Posted by: exlibra on March 16, 2009 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

don't know if anyone else has weighed in on this, but I find the whole "mini-report" "quick hits" string tedious. It's second-string info fine for a second-string blog, but that is not why I check in here.

Posted by: joe on March 16, 2009 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

definition: sanfordize (U.S. slang) -Kurt

Good one, spruce it up with his last year in office and that belongs in UrbanDictionary

Posted by: Kevin on March 16, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I think Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has some explaining to do."

No, he does not! Steve has some explaining to do as to why he is only now becoming aware of Murtha's corruption. Murtha has been on CREW's list of most corrupt politicians for years; I believe since they started their list.

Politicians do not have to explain anything to the voters if they can raise enough $$$ to deter anyone running against them. After they gain seniority, the corruption gets worse.

Of course, my senator Evan Bayh would not fit into this category. After all, his wife only sits on the boards of 7 companies & is paid about $900,000 per year for it. Two pharamaceuticals and 3 biotechs. Of course, Bayh's committe assignments have nothing to do with it.

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 16, 2009 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

don't know if anyone else has weighed in on this, but I find the whole "mini-report" "quick hits" string tedious. It's second-string info fine for a second-string blog, but that is not why I check in here.

Actually, I find the mini-reports are tremendously useful.

They represents a ton of work, and are very much appreciated.

Posted by: OC Progressive on March 16, 2009 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I find the mini-reports are tremendously useful.

really?

Don Imus has prostate cancer is tremendously useful? The Washington Times isn't objective? Rush Holt wants to look into an 8 year old scandal with a commission? The latest headline on Pakistan from this mornings NYT?

These are indispensable or provide unique analysis?

Posted by: joe on March 16, 2009 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Prostate cancer is something those happy headed ho's won't need to worry about.

Not that there's anything WRONG about having prostate cancer.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on March 16, 2009 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually "happy headed" sounds kind of cool.

Y'all know what my brain meant when my typo fingers put that on the internets.

And I do wish Imus has a successful recovery. I just also hope he never gets another broadcasting job.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on March 16, 2009 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

That edit is shockingly dishonest, even by Faux News standards.

Posted by: Rabi on March 16, 2009 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I didn't know receivership (like for AIG - Arrogant Incompetent Gamers?) meant you didn't have to honor previous contracts - I hope so, but it seems hard to believe.

In any case, the bigger hypocrisy from conservatives is not AIG contracts versus Union contracts. It's the conservatives who wanted Union members to abrogate their contracts, but then deftly pivoted to complain about Obama's 500k compensation limit for Bail-ees because "the government isn't supposed to tell companies how much to pay people" - even when there *isn't* a contract to push down.

BTW I find the mini-report list a handy rundown, and there's plenty of good analysis too (and why "I don't come here for X ..." isn't a good enough complaint in principle.)

Posted by: Neil B ◙ on March 16, 2009 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

As for Faux and "Fox News Edits Clip To Suggest That Biden Recently Declared ‘Fundamentals Of The Economy Are Strong’: - please, don't any pussies tell me we can't take legal action for something like that? The FCC isn't supposed to be a blank check for fraudulent reporting, or it shouldn't be. If they can fine stations/networks for showing breasts or the F-bomb, there should be a provision for the equivalent of implied slander/libel in reporting. But Biden can at least go on MTP and insist on showing the full clip, etc.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on March 16, 2009 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Like the PI is going to make money online. Last year, online ad revenues have declined MORE than hardcopy ones, by percentage.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on March 16, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

i like the daily roundup. i often don't have time to cull all news reports.

it also serves the purpose of an open thread. you guys don't recognize an open thread?

geez, ungrateful louts.

ignore them, steve. you're doing fine.

Posted by: karen marie on March 16, 2009 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

I've seen lots of phony framing of the stock market flattening today (that's all it is) and not just obvious slanters like Drudge. For example, at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090316/ap_on_bi_st_ma_re/wall_street the heading is "Stocks give up gains after 4-day rally" - Well, the gains didn't continue today (how could they keep on day after day?) but "give up" implies that the gains of the rally were actually "lost" as if, the DJIA went back down to Monday levels. No, of course it didn't - Dow 7,216.97 -7.01 (-0.10%)! On Monday Mar 9 Dow was down to 6547, so after today the DJIA is still up 10.2%! Complete lies.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on March 16, 2009 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

I also like the quick hits list. Sure, some of it may irk some individuals as irrelevant. Here's an idea, follow your intellectual imperative and don't read it if you don't like it. Everybody wins! Steve Benen is the hardest working political animal in the business. My many thanks!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on March 16, 2009 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Why on earth is CNN's John King referring to Human Events as if it were a legitimate news outlet?

Because he is a douche.

Thanks for playing simple answers to simple questions. We'll see you all back here same time tomorrow when another MSM correspondent does something predictably idiotic.

Posted by: jonas on March 16, 2009 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

* The White House seems to want AIG's bonus money back, and has an idea how to make that happen.

keep dreaming Steve.

Posted by: grinning cat on March 16, 2009 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

I really enjoy the Mini-report. It serves two purposes. 1) it lets Steve deal with second tier items of interest. 2) It is the intro to the daily open thread. I find it tremendously useful.

Posted by: Dale on March 16, 2009 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

To expound of grinning cat's posting @20:49

I'm not sure they even know, for certain-sure, how much money is involved and for what. I've heard 165M, 450M and 1B all bruited about. For "just the top executives". For the "Financial Instruments" section. For everyone across the board because "their basic pay is peanuts". For "retention". For "performance". And "just because".

Until you know how much bonus money has disappeared down the AIG maw an where it went, you'll never know how much to claw back and how.

Posted by: exlibra on March 16, 2009 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

The mini-report stays, joe. My day isn't complete without it. See, if Steve doesn't write a mini-report, I can't read it, but if you don't want to read a mini-report, well, you can skip it.

For fuck's sake, I hate backseat blogging.

Posted by: doubtful on March 16, 2009 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

I am now living in Australia, and the time difference between Sydney and the East Coast is 15 hours. In the morning after breakfast I love to pick up Steve's mini-report as my first link to catching up on the day's news.

As doubtful says, if you don't want it, you can skip it.

Posted by: Minty on March 17, 2009 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

I don't really understand Sanford's stand. On some of this yes, state rights is something that all of us should be concerned about. But just because the Obama adminisration did not take his waiver seriously is not a reason to reject the money. I mean people will make money once with this stimulus plan, construction work on schools etc. I don't know, is Sanford sacificing his own people for the sake of the Republican party?

Posted by: Tim on March 17, 2009 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

"backseat blogging" - Cool and terse, indeed.

Last print day for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer - So sad, what Hearst has done to that fine paper and is about to do with the SF Chronicle. The marvelous work of David Horsey, who is one of the finest progressive political cartoonists in the land, Joel Connelly's insightful political thoughts, Art Thiel, the thinking person's Sports writer, and the incomparable gardening section with Ann Lovejoy, Marty Wingate and Marianne Binnetti. Yeah, they will struggle to remain on-line, but, the glory days of Emmitt Watson are gone.

As poster Rancid Crabtree stated it so well at Horsey, last evening, "Sic transit gloria mundi". Sic transit, indeed, as another reader wrote, sic transit, indeed.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 17, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration had a strict rule to not negotiate. They didn't negotiate with terrorists, they didn't negotiate with North Korea, they didn't negotiate with Iran and they didn't negotiate with drug companies or those banks that they gave zillions of dollars to with no strings attached. You have to give them credit for consistency.

Posted by: mikeyes on March 17, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Between Blue Girl's late night wrap, which, of course, I don't see until early morning since Tammy and I are on opposite diurnal cycles, and Steve's morning roundup even a news junkie like me finds little nuggets of info to check out.

I like there being an open thread every morning as well.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 17, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK
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