Your Random-Ass Roundup: Rattle the Capitol Edition.

Completely Misreading the National Mood, AIG Makes It Rain. AIG, the mammoth and  mismanaged insurer — which incidentally holds the global financial market by the balls — is giving out $165 million in bonuses after getting $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money. Everyone is pissed. AIG said its legally obligated to pay the bonuses, which were negotiated before the bailout, and that they’ll help the company retain talent. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich calls those arguments bullshit. “Had AIG gone into chapter 11 bankruptcy or been liquidated, as it would have without government aid, no bonuses would ever be paid (they would have had a lower priority under bankruptcy law that AIG’s debts to other creditors); indeed, AIG’s executives would have long ago been on the street. And any mention of the word “talent” in the same sentence as “AIG” or “credit default swaps” would be laughable if laughing weren’t already so expensive.”

I Know That I’m Carrying On, Nevermind If I’m Showing Off… Jeff Toobin profiles (ethers?) Roland Burris in the New Yorker. “He is a conventional politician, one guided far more by cautious self-interest than by ideological passion. His self-regard may be greater than that of some of his peers; he is especially known for the words of self-celebration carved into the wall of a mausoleum that is waiting for him in a Chicago cemetery. … According to the Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson, a longtime student of Chicago politics, Burris “was a soldier, part of the machine. He’s not a distinguished politician. He’s not a powerful political thinker.” One of the most alarming tidbits is how Burris’s incompetence as attorney general almost sent an innocent man to his death — twice.

Rational Irresponsibility grandmute makes the argument that since  homeownership affords people capital needed for social mobility, borrowers who took on mortgages they may have struggled with were actually making the kind of calculated risks for progress that Wall Street types do all the time. “In at least one form, shouldering “irresponsible” risk in one’s mortgage was considered by the financial establishment a reasonable investment. Viewed through the broader prism of inequality, taking on risks to become a homeowner can be construed as perfectly rational given the immense advantages which have historically accrued to homeowners and their descendants.”

We Don’t Believe You, You Need More People. AverageBro calls shenanigans on the GOP governors rejecting stimulus funds for their states on the grounds that once the money runs out they won’t be able to fund the stimulus-backed programs. ” [It’s] little more than political maneuvering for Perry, Sanford, and Jindal. If you need more proof, consider the fact that the Fed isn’t mandating that the expansion of unemployment benefits be permanent. When the money runs dry in 2 years, the states could roll back the expansion in two years. Finally, the amount each of these guys are rejecting is a mere fraction of the total amount their states are receiving. Texas alone is getting $16 Billion dollars. The amount Perry turned away is barely 3% of that.”

Fake-Retiring, Just Like a Rapper. After a bunch of high-profile missteps and facing questions about his leadership, Michael Steele says he’s going to stop his media blitz to focus on fundraising and winning elections.

Obama’s Gay Dilemma. Obama will soon have to make a choice on whether the government will provide benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees.  Not that those same-sex couples will officially exist in the the 2010 Census, anyway.

Rahm Emmanuel, Defender of the Night. When he’s not being an anal retentive strategist/enforcer, Rahm Emmanuel is actually a superhero who saves the lives of random people in movie theaters and Republicans with bad hearts. (Is that last part redundant?)

Divining Her Original Intent. When Justice Ginsburg told a bunch of law students that there was going to be a opening on the Supreme Court “soon,” just who or what did she mean?

Sit Your 16-Percent-Approval-Having-Ass-Down. VoldemortDick Cheney says the Obama administration is doing things that will make America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. “”When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing, closing Guantanamo and so forth … they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks.”

Walking Back a Controversial Stance. A few weeks ago, Brazil’s Catholic Church excommunicated the mother of a nine-year-old girl for taking her to have an abortion after the girl was raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather. (They excommunicated the doctors, too.) But a high-ranking Vatican archbishop came out in defense of the girl , saying that the girl “should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction.”

Do Better, Po-Po’s. I know we’ve been coming hard on the criminal justice system lately, but how can you not when cases like those of Derrick Copp, an unarmed student at Grand Valley State who was shot when his apartment was raided by police. It took six hours before his parents were contacted and told he was in the hospital, and that was done by the injured Copp and a nurse.

Do Better, Po-Po’s, Pt. 2. Prison guards in Oklahoma put a felon in a prison cell with the killer he helped put in jail with his testimony. He was beaten to death within 15 minutes. Ugh.

Stats on Suicide By Cop. A study found that 36 percent of shootings involving officers included people who were trying to be killed by police. The overwhelming majority (90%) of those people were male, and most of them had guns at the time. About half of that group was killed during the shootout.

Crime Goes Down with the Economy. Crime is down in Colorado even as the economy continues its freefall. That flies in the face of what most people, including law enforcement types, were expecting. One criminologist said its still pretty early, and a lot of things that push crime up haven’t happened — yet. The head of the state’s corrections department attributes the slide to stiffer sentencing and higher incarceration rates; the state’s prison population is roughly six times as large as it was 25 years ago.

Katrina Evacuees and Gender Violence. Our homie Leigh points to a disturbing uptick in gender-based violence among Katrina evacuees living in emergency trailers. It’s all the more unsettling because of its preventability: ” internally displaced populations follow patterns, including a tendency toward violence against women,” according to a Defense Department researcher.

Thank Jeebus. That rumor about a Rihanna-Chris Brown duet? Not true.

Cut That Shit Out. Wired has a list of the most annoying habits of geeky partners. Number one is punning. Yes. Stop that. Number eight is “looking up information while an argument/conversation is still in progress,” and I deeply resent its inclusion on this list.

17 thoughts on “Your Random-Ass Roundup: Rattle the Capitol Edition.

  1. shani-o March 16, 2009 at 8:34 am Reply

    2 things re: the AIG mess. 1) Somehow I doubt AIG would have had been sued by its employees for not giving them bonuses this year and if they had, I sincerely doubt anyone would have backed them. 2) Who on earth would hire AIG ‘talent’ right now?

    • Leigh March 27, 2009 at 8:14 am Reply

      This is what my dad keeps saying…what jury would find in favor of disgruntled AIG employees??

  2. aisha March 16, 2009 at 9:01 am Reply

    At most places you get bonuses if you perform well. So exactly what kind of contracts do those employees have and can I get one?

  3. Scott March 16, 2009 at 10:42 am Reply

    AverageBro is correct that the state legislatures can change unemployment requirements once the money runs out. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that doing so would probably be very hard to do. Getting legislation through either a state or the federal system isn’t as simply as flipping a switch and I think he minimizes the difficulties involved with making changes.

  4. ladyfresshh March 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm Reply

    How about they publicize who is getting the bonuses. Lets shame them into giving them back.

  5. Scott March 17, 2009 at 10:32 am Reply

    What is the big deal? AIG signed contracts back in 07/08 with some of their employees for the bonuses and now has to pay them. Somehow I doubt AIG thought their company was going to tank so badly before they signed the contracts.

    • aisha March 17, 2009 at 3:04 pm Reply


      I’m just unfamiliar with places that give bonuses for poor performance. I want to know what the metrics they were using. You shouldn’t get a bonus just for showing up.

      • Scott March 17, 2009 at 4:07 pm Reply

        When AIG signed the contracts for the bonuses back in 08 the situation was different than now so is is easy to call their judgment into question. I don’t know what metrics they were using but I understand that some of the bonuses were retention bonuses and therefore were just “for showing up.” But if you want to thank anyone for this try Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)who put language into the stimulus bill last month protecting the bonuses. Funny thing, Dodd is the top recipient of AIG money. See—time/

        • Winslowalrob March 17, 2009 at 8:57 pm Reply

          I dunno, I am gonna give it to Greenwald on this

          • G.D. March 17, 2009 at 9:07 pm Reply

            Fam, i was JUST about to post that. get out of my head.

            • Winslowalrob March 17, 2009 at 9:59 pm Reply

              But your head doesn’t charge rent! Do you know how much an actual apartment costs?

              And Scott, a lot of people have been criticizing Timmah and Summers even before they started screwing around because people felt they would inevitably screw around. I actually liked Summers but this crap he is pulling is wacksauce. Still, Obama is getting SOME stuff done (Stem cells? Gitmo?)

              • Scott March 18, 2009 at 8:10 am Reply

                Stem cells and Gitmo maybe nice but I thought “it’s the economy, stupid.” Didn’t Obama promise to change Washington or was that just a campaign slogan like ending earmarks? I wonder if Obama will return the $100k he got from AIG?

                • G.D. March 18, 2009 at 10:11 am Reply

                  isn’t this shtick getting old, scott?

                  • Scott March 18, 2009 at 10:31 am Reply

                    I expect any politician to keep their promises, regardless of party. Is there something wrong with that? Obama did promise change, right or did I miss something something? Or are you insinuating that only republicans are held to their campaign promises.

                    • G.D. March 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

                      lather. rinse. repeat.

  6. Scott March 17, 2009 at 9:37 pm Reply

    If true, then that is bad on the part of the Obama folks. So much for change.

  7. lsn March 19, 2009 at 1:24 am Reply

    I’m not sure which article you were trying to link to for the high ranking Vatican official coming out in support of the 9 year old, but the one you’ve linked to is the Vatican supporting the archbishop who excommunicated her family and the doctors (but not her, because she’s too young.) I’m kind of glad that there’s someone in the Vatican who might think that allowing a 9 year old to die horribly along with the twins she was carrying is more morally wrong than aborting though.

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