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1:50 PM ET, March 20, 2009


 Top Items: 
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 …
Special Olympics Champ to Barack: Bring it On!  —  A bowling phenom in the Special Olympics has just challenged Prez Barack Obama to a White House roll-off ... and he'll probably kick Barack's butt.  —  Kolan McConiughey, a Special Olympics competitor who has bowled three perfect 300 games …
Alessandra Stanley / New York Times:
Seeking Everyman, Obama Does Leno  —  President Obama didn't look burdened by his office on “The Tonight Show” on Thursday; he seemed bemused.  —  As he described the problems of American International Group and the credit crisis to Jay Leno, Mr. Obama behaved less like a beleaguered president …
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 released on the Internet to make an unusual appeal directly to Iranians for a shift away from decades of confrontation.
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Video: Good Morning, Iran!
Glenn Greenwald / Salon:
Obama's new message to Iran
Discussion: Ben Smith's Blog
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  —  31 PERCENT: She says state can't commit to continuation.  —  JUNEAU — Gov. Sarah Palin is refusing to accept over 30 percent of the federal economic stimulus money being offered to Alaska, including dollars for schools, energy assistance and social services.
Discussion: The Daily Dish, On Deadline and Salon
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.
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 …
Discussion: JustOneMinute, pw and
Washington Post:
GOP Pressed on Health Care  —  House Democrats Set September Deadline for Compromise  —  House Democrats, in consultation with the White House, will give Republican lawmakers until September to reach a compromise on President Obama's signature health-care initiative — otherwise …
Andrew Taylor / Associated Press:
New deficit estimates much worse than W. House predicted
Discussion: Reuters
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 …
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.
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.”
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: Gawker, Truthdig and Wonkette
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, TPMDC, MSNBC, and Commentary
Adam Serwer / American Prospect:
THIS FEED IS CLOSED TO THE PRESS.  —  Huh, I wonder why Jake Tapper, press access warrior, has blocked me from following his Twitter feed.  —  Time for a blogger ethics panel?  —  UPDATE: Tapper has also blocked Talking Points Memo.  —  Bonus Tapper: His exchange with White House Press …
Americans OK losing some control of education for more money  —  WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that most Americans would be willing to give up some control of their public schools to the federal government in return for more money from Washington for those schools.
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Pollitt On Douthat  —  For a column that's critical of me, I don't really disagree with much of what Katha Pollitt has to say about Ross Douthat.  He's a conservative.  I am not a conservative.  If I thought that conservative views were correct, I would be a conservative.  But I think they're wrong.
Discussion: Hullabaloo
Reem Khalifa / Associated Press:
2 US Navy vessels collide in Strait of Hormuz  —  MANAMA, Bahrain - Two U.S. Navy vessels — a nuclear-powered submarine and an amphibious ship — collided before dawn Friday in the mouth of the Persian Gulf, one of the world's most important sea passages for oil supplies.
Discussion: D-Day
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:, Sister Toldjah and KCBS
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 …
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
Wall Street Journal:
FDR's Conservative 100 Days  —  The Obama administration's opening policy sprint — massive deficits and bailouts, with sweeping health-care and education reform, plus cap and trade to come — has been likened by the president himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous first 100 days.
Discussion: Washington Monthly
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 More Items: 
Mike Corder / Associated Press:
Dutch hospital to send Ghanaian chief's head home
The Politico:
Greta defends access to Palin family Politico - 43 minutes ago
Associated Press:
Vermont Senate panel approves gay marriage bill
Alice Lipowicz /
Officials struggle with data for
Discussion: The Moderate Voice
Wall Street Journal:
Neither a Hedgehog Nor a Fox
Obama's First Round NCAA Bracket A Bust
 Earlier Items: 
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Obama violating law on TARP oversight?
Discussion: The Campaign Spot
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
David Brooks / New York Times:
Perverse Cosmic Myopia
Discussion: MSNBC and Commentary