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11:55 AM 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.
Todd Venezia / New York Post:
Jim Treacher / Mother, May I Sleep with Treacher?:   NO RESPECT, NO RESPECT AT ALL  —  Last night, President Obama debuted …
The Huffington Post:
Obama On Tonight Show With Jay Leno: FULL TRANSCRIPT, VIDEO
Discussion: Dealbreaker and Washington Post
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 …
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 …
Geithner: Treasury pushed for bonus loophole  —  (CNN) — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told CNN Thursday his department asked Sen. Chris Dodd to include a loophole in the stimulus bill that allowed bailed-out insurance giant American International Group to keep its bonuses.
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Obama violating law on TARP oversight?
Discussion: The Campaign Spot
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 …
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
“Saving” Banks  —  Henry Blodget, going to battle on behalf of Wall Street's welfare bonus babies, says: … I think this hits upon a critical ambiguity in the bailout scenario.  I, for one, don't think that “saving” the too-big-to-fail financial institutions is or was among the legitimate purposes of our financial policy.
Discussion: Conventional Folly
Alan Cowell / New York Times:
In an Unusual Video, Obama Offers Iran a ‘New Day’  —  Invoking art, history and “the common humanity that binds us,” President Obama offered a “new day” in America's relationship with Iran, using an unusual videotaped message to appeal directly to Iranians for a shift away from decades of confrontation.
Glenn Greenwald / Salon:
Obama's new message to Iran
Discussion: TigerHawk and Israel Matzav
Ezra Klein / American Prospect:
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, Commentary, and MSNBC
Andrew Miga / Associated Press:
Dodd's political stock tumbles in Connecticut
Discussion: First Draft
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 …
Alice Lipowicz /
Officials struggle with data for  —  Tracking the spending from the $787 billion economic stimulus package is proving difficult because of shortcomings in the available data, the chairman of the stimulus act oversight board said today.  —  “I am concerned about data quality,” …
Discussion: MyDD
Philip Rucker / Washington Post:
Beefy Résumé for a Giant Job: Policing Stimulus Spending
Discussion: The Foundry
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.”
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 …
Discussion: Dealbreaker
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
Obama's First Round NCAA Bracket A Bust  —  CHICAGO (CBS) ― After the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament, President Obama's bracket appears to be a bust.  —  The president, a self-described basketball junkie, managed to only pick 11 of 16 games correctly—or 69 percent.
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: Brian Beutler
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 …
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
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.
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 More Items: 
Wall Street Journal:
FDR's Conservative 100 Days
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Wall Street Journal:
Neither a Hedgehog Nor a Fox
Andrew E. Kramer / New York Times:
Veterans of U.S. Diplomacy Try to Revive Nuclear Arms Talks With Russia
Discussion: Pajamas Media
Eli Lake / Washington Times:
Brownback to block Iraq nominee
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Doug Holtz-Eakin Calls for Bank Nationalization
Washington Post:
Latest CIA Scandal Puts Focus on How Agency Polices Self
 Earlier Items: 
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
Lynn Sweet:
Michelle Obama in candid conversation with kids, talks about being …
Discussion: Betsy's Page
Dina Cappiello / Associated Press:
Report: Energy contributing to birds' decline