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12:45 PM ET, March 20, 2009


 Top Items: 
Michael James / Political Punch:
President Obama Jokes About Being a Bad Bowler: 'It's Like the Special Olympics'*  —  The first appearance by a sitting president on “The Tonight Show” may well end up being the last.  —  President Obama, in his taping with Jay Leno Thursday afternoon, attempted to yuk it up with the funnyman, and ended up insulting the disabled.
Jim Treacher / Mother, May I Sleep with Treacher?:
NO RESPECT, NO RESPECT AT ALL  —  Last night, President Obama debuted his standup comedy act on the Tonight Show.  You've heard his hilarious wisecracks about the Special Olympics and “waterheads,” and here are a few of his other witticisms:  — “Thanks for having me on the show, Jay.
Alessandra Stanley / New York Times:
Seeking Everyman, Obama Does Leno
Discussion: CNN
Todd Venezia / New York Post:
Special Olympics Champ to Barack: Bring it On!
Discussion: A Blog For All
New York Times:
Scorn Trails A.I.G. Executives, Even in Their Driveways  —  The A.I.G. executive who was nicknamed “Jackpot Jimmy” by a New York tabloid walked up the driveway toward his bay-windowed house in Fairfield, Conn., on Thursday afternoon.  “How do I feel?” said the executive, James Haas, repeating the question he had just been asked.
Andrew Malcolm / Top of the Ticket:
Obama White House bars press from press award ceremony  —  We are not making this up:  —  Barack Obama was elected commander in chief promising to run the most transparent presidential administration in American history.  —  This achievement and the overall promise of his historic administration caused …
Alan Cowell / New York Times:
Obama and Israeli Leader Make Video Appeals to Iran  —  Invoking art, history and “the common humanity that binds us,” President Obama offered a “new day” in America's relationship with Iran, using a videotaped message to make an unusual appeal directly to Iranians for a shift away from decades of confrontation.
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
ANYTHING THEY CAN DO, PALIN CAN DO DUMBER.... If there's one thing elected officials in Alaska know how to do, perhaps better than anyone else in the country, it's accepting federal dollars for state programs.  It was curious, then, to see a certain Alaskan governor decide she'd like to reject economic recovery funds.
Sean Cockerham / Anchorage Daily News:
Palin rejects over 30% of stimulus money
Discussion: The Daily Dish, Salon and On Deadline
Anne Sutton / Associated Press:
Palin rejects nearly 30 percent of stimulus funds
Discussion: Hot Air
Henry Blodget / Clusterstock:
90% Tax?  Now We Really ARE Screwed  —  The frantic passage of the Populist Rage Tax was a new low in the US government's response to this crisis.  It shows just how likely we are to doom ourselves to a decade or more of misery—by choking our markets, closing our borders …
New York Times:
Connecticut Senator Draws Voters' Ire for His Bonus Role  —  Clarence Randolph, a 50-year-old dump truck driver from New Haven, has been out of work for two months.  —  He is not happy that financial firms bailed out by the government are paying bonuses to their executives.
Discussion: Power Line, MSNBC, Commentary and
Andrew Miga / Associated Press:
Dodd's political stock tumbles in Connecticut
Discussion: First Draft
Michael Lewis / Bloomberg:
Mass Hysteria Over AIG Obscures Simple Truths: Michael Lewis  —  Last September the U.S. government began to dole out the first of $173 billion to American International Group.  A big chunk of it passed right through to banks that had bought insurance from AIG against mortgage and corporate defaults …
New York Times:
Off With the Bankers  —  A.I.G. can hardly claim that its generous bonuses attract the best and the brightest.  So instead, it defends the payments by arguing they're needed to retain employees who are crucial for winding down transactions that are “difficult to understand and manage.”
Charles Krauthammer / Washington Post:
Bonfire of the Trivialities  —  A $14 trillion economy hangs by a thread composed of (a) a comically cynical, pitchfork-wielding Congress, (b) a hopelessly understaffed, stumbling Obama administration, and (c) $165 million.  —  That's $165 million in bonus money handed out to AIG debt manipulators …
Paul Krugman:
AIG  —  Preliminary thoughts on the tax bill:  —  1. It's not the way you should make policy — it's clumsy, and it will punish some innocent parties while letting the most guilty off scot-free  —  2. But — there wasn't much alternative at this point.  And for that I blame the Obama people.
Discussion: Clusterstock and Brian Beutler
New York Times:
Many in Government Knew Weeks Ago About A.I.G. Bonuses  —  WASHINGTON — The question was direct and prescient.  Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, asked the Treasury secretary in an open hearing what could be done to stop American International Group from paying $165 million …
Washington Post:
Latest CIA Scandal Puts Focus on How Agency Polices Self  —  As a novice CIA case officer in the Middle East, Andrew Warren quickly learned the value of sex in recruiting spies.  Colleagues say that he made an early habit of taking informants to strip clubs, and that he later began arranging …
Discussion: Truthdig and Wonkette
Mary Ann Akers / The Sleuth:
Joe the Plumber Wants to Make Love to Washington  —  The Republican's Working Man hero Joe the Plumber could barely contain himself last night before a crowd of adoring, media-bashing conservatives.  —  “God, all this love and everything in the room - I'm horny,” declared Joe, whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher.
Discussion: Indecision Forever
David Brooks / New York Times:
Perverse Cosmic Myopia  —  You'd think if some tiger were lunging at your neck, your attention would be riveted on the tiger.  But that's apparently not how it works in the age of global A.D.D. As a tiger sinks its teeth into the world's neck, we focus on the dust bunnies under the bed …
Discussion: MSNBC and Commentary
Michelle Malkin:
Bastards: Vandals strike at Berkeley Marine recruiting center again  —  It's never over.  Bush is out of office.  Obama is moving to withdraw troops from Iraq.  Last October, Code Pink gave up on its daily harangues against the Marines who staff a recruiting office in Berkeley …
Discussion: and KCBS
Financial Times:
Do not let the ‘cure’ destroy capitalism  —  Capitalism has been wounded by the global recession, which unfortunately will get worse before it gets better.  As governments continue to determine how many restrictions to place on markets, especially financial markets, the destruction of wealth …
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 More Items: 
Associated Press:
US Navy: 2 vessels collide in Strait of Hormuz
Discussion: D-Day
Wall Street Journal:
FDR's Conservative 100 Days
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Alice Lipowicz /
Officials struggle with data for
Wall Street Journal:
Neither a Hedgehog Nor a Fox
Obama's First Round NCAA Bracket A Bust
Eli Lake / Washington Times:
Brownback to block Iraq nominee
 Earlier Items: 
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Obama violating law on TARP oversight?
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Doug Holtz-Eakin Calls for Bank Nationalization
Kenneth P. Vogel / The Politico:
Romney rakes it in, doesn't dole it out
Nick Squires / Telegraph:
Vatican insiders declare the Pope a ‘disaster’
Discussion: Democracy in America
Patrick O'Connor / The Politico:
Boehner, Cantor ties taxed by AIG vote
Discussion: The Hill