Dear AIG-FP Sr. Vice President Jake DeSantis

An AIG executive is a bit upset, because he feels that he (and other high level execs at AIG) are being hung out to dry by CEO Edward Liddy in the interest of political expediency.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Dear Mr. DeSantis:

I read your resignation letter to AIG CEO Edward Liddy, which was published in the New York Times on my birthday, 3/24/2009. Having just turned 55, and being currently unemployed and living check to check, I thought you might be interested in my reaction.

The sense of entitlement that you express is absolutely astounding, and beyond the logical comprehension of a lifelong prole such as myself. You state:

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid…

Excuse me if I don’t choke up with sympathy, Mr. DeSantis. I have no doubt that during your “11 years of dedicated, honorable service”, you were very handsomely rewarded for your efforts, both in salary and past bonuses. I haven’t even googled your name, but I imagine that you live in a very nice home in a prestigious zip code, and that you hold title to at least one or two other vacation homes in equally toney neighborhoods. You probably drive multiple high end, imported vehicles, have multiple tax-sheltered bank accounts and financial instruments, and have never had to make the choice between feeding your family or paying the electric bill or cutting your pills in half to stretch out a medication prescription. It’s probably also safe to assume that you have a hired staff to attend to your family’s many needs and routine, mundane household chores.

So when you say:

I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut…

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house…

… I have to conclude that my personal sense of outrage over the bonus that you (and your fellow AIG executives) were scheduled to receive was justified. It’s crystal clear that you are disconnected from the social and political reality around you. The gravy train has been running on time for years, but by all appearances, when it ran off the tracks in 2008 your company continued to try and grease the rails for AIG executives who were already riding in first class.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans (including me) who were working as hourly wage slaves or in minimally salaried supervisory roles lost their jobs because of the recklessness of companies like AIG. So now, you resign and whine to your CEO via an editorial in the New York Times?

I’m sorry, but I just can’t feel the love for ya, Jake. As I try to figure out how I’m going to make it to next week, my sympathy meter just isn’t moving in your direction.

If you feel I’m alone in my lack of compassion for your situation, you might want to check out political cartoonist David Rees’ opinion:

Pay me $700,000 a year, or however much the AIG guy whining in today’s New York Times made, and you can threaten me with death all goddamn day. Because do you have any idea how much money that is??? Hell, I’ll let you throw rocks at me. I’ll let you poison my soup. You can slash my tires and spray-paint my driveway. AND ONCE I GET ALL THAT MONEY, I’M TOTALLY PAYING OFF SOME STUDENT LOANS AND FIXING THE GARAGE ROOF AND BUYING SOME NEW PANTS. Because that’s an insane amount of money.

I know, I know, Jake. It’s sad. To folks like you, $700,000 is chump change that can be given away in a fit of angst, and then reclaimed next April as a tax deduction. The unwashed (such as Mr. Rees or myself) just don’t understand. Perhaps you could do a little house shopping in Florida this weekend to sooth your wounded soul.

At the end of the day, though, I thank you for bringing the plight of the perceived injustice you’ve experienced to our collective attention, and I wish you luck in your job search. Sorry I have to cut this short, but maybe I’ll see you down at the local Wal-Mart and we can further discuss your anger. I hear they’re hiring part time stocking help for the night shift, and I need to rush out and get in the application line.

Best regards,

Richard Blair

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Romney PAC Supports Romney, GOP Candidates? Not So Much

The Boston Globe reports that Mitt Romney’s PAC, the Free and Strong America PAC, was designed to support Republican candidates, but has instead been used to support Mitt romney’s chances in 2012, including employing many of his former campaign staffers. Look at the Repubs he supported, power brokers and whack jobs. Pitiful.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

When he lost the nomination for President from his Party, Mitt Romney focused on his PAC, the Free and Strong America PAC. The goal of the PAC was to support Republican candidates, but the Boston Globe reports that only 12% of the funds actually went to support those candidates. Here’s the scoop from the Boston Globe:

Republican Mitt Romney is laying the groundwork for a possible White House campaign in 2012, hiring a team of staff members and consultants with money from a fund-raising committee he established with the ostensible purpose of supporting other GOP candidates.

The former Massachusetts governor has raised $2.1 million for his Free and Strong America political action committee. But only 12 percent of the money has been spent distributing checks to Romney’s fellow Republicans around the country.

Instead, the largest chunk of the money has gone to support Romney’s political ambitions, paying for salaries and consulting fees to over a half-dozen of Romney’s longtime political aides, according to a Globe review of expenditures.

Romney founded the Free and Strong America Committee shortly after dropping out of the 2008 presidential primary. He filled its coffers by telling conservative contributors around the country that their money would be used to support Republican candidates and causes.

According to the Globe analysis, he spent $244,000 on contributions to congressional and other candidates between April and the November elections. He has spent more than twice as much on staff salaries and contracts to hire professional fund-raisers, who are compiling contributor lists that will serve Romney well in a future presidential campaign.

In essence, Romney is financing a political enterprise that he can use to remain a national GOP leader and use as a springboard should he decide to launch another presidential bid for 2012.

What the Romney funds from the Free and Strong America PAC went for was for Romney to stump around the country for Republican candidates, and I suppose that would have been fine, but as a strategy for his future political aspirations, Romney spent money far better keeping his face in front of voters than he did for the Republican candidates. In a follow-up article from UPI, Romney’s people are a bit honest about that purpose:

“The main purpose of Mitt Romney’s PAC is to enable him to travel around the country on virtually a full-time basis to campaign and raise funds for candidates and to promote policies that will strengthen America,” Fehrnstrom said.

Still, that statement conflicts from the Boston Globe report. It’s an attempt to put out the fire. But let’s say Romney WAS working for those candidates. His web site has a list of the candidates he supported. How did they do?

Well, Romney’s money was spent on some sure winners, like Thad Cochran, Lamar Alexander, James Inhofe, Jeff Sessions and Dana Rohrabacher, for instance. did those candidates really need a boost from Mitt romney? No, they needed neither the money nor Romney’s appearances. But Romney needs these heavy hitters if he has a chance in 2012, that’s for sure. There’s the real reason he made an effort on their behalf.

Romney also spent some money on some losers. Gordon Smith, John McCain, Sarah Palin, etc. I’m thinking Romney’s efforts did zero good in helping these candidates. But some of these candidates are very popular on the extremist right wing of the GOP, so Romney standing next to, say, a Sarah Palin, probably helps his stock among the whack job religious conservatives who are still suspicious of Romney’s funny underwear. Hey, the Mormon Church is taking a beating what with its supoort of Proposition 8, and I’m thinking that probably helps Romeny in the extremist Christian wing of his party. Still, he’s got to go a long way to heal that rift.

And then Romney supported certifiable whack jobs like Michelle Bachman and Saxby Chambliss. If Romney has any hope of reaching across the aisle and drawing independents to his side, he needs to ditch these folks, but it appears his aim with the Free and Strong America PAC was to elect Republicans, not to elect people who are for a free America. Bachman is on record wanting to rid the Congress of members who

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

6 Million Gallons of Oil + Volcano = Cooked Inlet?

There’s not much in the way of common sense in Alaska these days, but this one can’t be set at Sarah Palin’s feet. Still, she’ll probably get in the way when it comes to finding out how to remove 6 million gallons of fuel from the path of Redoubt’s eruptions.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I suppose they are getting used to environmental disasters in Alaska by now. The tank farm at the base of Redoubt has been evacuated, and it seems from reports that few contingency plans were made for this situation where an active volcano actually erupted. Gee, who could have predicted that? Where’s Bobby Jindal when you need him? From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

An Alaska volcano continued to rumble Tuesday amid new concerns that eruptions and mud flows will damage a nearby oil terminal where about 6 million gallons of crude oil are stored.

The 10,200-foot Mount Redoubt volcano about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage erupted Sunday night. Since then, there have been five more explosions with the latest occurring Monday night. That one, likely a flow of hot gas and rock, shot an ash plume into the air that was 40,000 to 50,000 feet high.

I suppose I could have extended that quotation some about how they don’t know how to evacuate the oil, etc., but I think the prognosis is maybe the best way to end this little piece. From a fisherman in Cook Inlet:

Tom Evans, an Alaska Native from the lower Cook Inlet village of Nanwalek, said people depend on inlet fisheries to feed their families.

“It makes no sense to store oil at the base of an erupting volcano,” he said.

Well, sense is in short supply in Alaska these days, I guess.

. . .

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Obama to Reach Out to Bloggers? Pick Me!

Barack Obama is going to meet with liberal bloggers? I hope so! My 11 week old son is teaching me to raise my hand, and I’m ready for the press conference. I’ll be like some aging Arnold Horshak or something! Still, seems a good communications/media strategy to me. . .


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Well, you could do worse, couldn’t you?

Here’s the article in Politico where they detail the Obama communications strategy, and there’s this choice little nugget in there.

The highest-profile moments in the new approach have been well-noted, such as the president giving an interview to progressive radio host Ed Schultz and Obama calling on a reporter from the liberal-leaning Huffington Post at his first news conference.

But those moves are only part of a much larger strategy aimed at communicating directly with audiences the White House believes are more sympathetic to the president’s agenda – and one in which much of the work is being done by Obama’s top advisers.

On the day Obama released his ambitious spending plan, the administration put White House budget director Peter Orszag on a conference call with liberal-leaning writers. Senior administration aides have followed up by promoting the budget to local radio talk shows during morning drive time.

Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s economic adviser and a favorite of the labor-liberal wing of the Democratic Party, also held a conference call with friendly reporters.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has done conference calls with black and Hispanic media outlets.

Obama himself plans to meet soon with liberal bloggers, according to an administration official. With little fanfare, he’s already sat for interviews with Black Enterprise magazine, Telemundo and Los Angeles-based Hispanic radio host Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo.

jack I’m here to volunteer. Seriously, whenever our Jack raises his hand stretching or whatever he does at 11 weeks old, we say something like, “be patient Jack, you’ll be called on soon.” Now I’m imagining he’s just waiting to someday attend a Presidential Press conference. Or maybe he’s telling his Dad. . . “hold your hand high, Dad, and Barack Obama will call on you!

OK, you all know I’ve got to do an obligatory post with a picture of Jack once a week or so, right?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Hey, GOP, Try Exorcism Next

Surprise, surprise! GOP House members are having a problem with Dick Cheney speaking up and getting in the way of their supposed remaking of their party. They’re crying “get off my lawn!” in unison, but it doesn’t seem to help. Maybe they should try exorcism. . . or, did somebody say “The Spanish Inquisition?”


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There’s evidently a sizable number of Members of Congress on the GOP side of the aisle who would like Dick Cheney to go back to his undisclosed location. They are not a bit happy that Cheney decided to take on Barack Obama the other day. Evidently they have figured out that huge numbers of Americans think Dick Cheney took this country down the most disastrous path we’ve been down in a long time. From The Hill:

Congressional Republicans are telling Dick Cheney to go back to his undisclosed location and leave them alone to rebuild the Republican Party without his input.

Displeased with the former vice-president’s recent media appearances, Republican lawmakers say he’s hurting GOP efforts to reinvent itself after back-to-back electoral drubbings.

The veep, who showed a penchant for secrecy during eight years in the White House,has popped up in media interviews to defend the Bush-Cheney record while suggesting that the country is not as safe under President Obama.

Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) said, “He became so unpopular while he was in the White House that it would probably be better for us politically if he wouldn’t be so public…But he has the right to speak out since he’s a private citizen.”

Another House Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity said he wasn’t surprised that Cheney has strongly criticized Obama early in his term, but argued that it’s not helping the GOP cause.

The legislator said Cheney, whose approval ratings were lower than President Bush’s during the last Congress, didn’t think through the political implications of going after Obama.

Cheney did “House Republicans no favors,” the lawmaker said, adding, “I could never understand him anyway.”

As everyone knows, the problem here is that these same GOP Congressmen were all supportive of Mr. Cheney through some really ugly times, including torture, selling out our own CIA agents, renditions, etc. They can’t run and hide from what they actively enabled, except in their dreams.

Of course, they could try exorcism.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Another Republican Lie About Obama, in Wash Times Editorial

All the Washington Times had to do was a little fact checking. But they decided to go with a false charge to rile up the gun nuts and Republicans who read the paper. That’s dishonesty, but somehow the Wash Times still is considered part of the media. Others in the legitimate media should call them on this.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Hey, maybe the Washington Times is financially strapped and just fired all its fact checkers or something. So is this incompetence or a deliberate lie to enrage all the gun nuts?

The story they put out, in an Editorial no less, is that Barack Obama was going to eliminate the notion that commercial pilots can carry firearms for defense of the aircraft. From the right wing extremist Washington Times:

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

Of course a simple fact check by them would have resulted in their alarmist editorial being proven false. Here’s the skinny.

Whether the Bush policy is right or not can certainly be debates. Whether the Washington Times is a lying tool cannot be debated

Monday, March 23rd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Injustice: Bush Deported Spouse to Country of Past Rape

The case of Genesio Oliveira and Tim Coco needs a whole bunch more focus in our country. The Bush Administration ripped apart their marriage when they deported Mr. Oliveira, clearly motivated by wanting to make a statement about MA gay marriage laws. John Kerry has stepped forward to help, but we need internet outrage as well.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Let me be far more direct that Senator John Kerry, who is certainly doing the humanitarian thing by taking up the cause of Tom Coco and Genesio Oliveira. You see, they married in Massachusetts, fully expecting to live a life together in that state. Genesio had come to this country after abuse and rape in his native Brazil, but had found love and stability here. Then the Bush Administration deported Mr. Oliveira, seperating the couple, violating the bonds of matrimony and the commitment our government should have to the happines of its law abiding citizens. All because Genesio Oliveira is gay. Oh sure, his immigration status was not in order, but the real factor here is that Genesio Oliveira is gay, and it is highly likely he was a target of the Bush Administration for that reason and because Genesio Oliveira was married in Massachusetts.

John Kerry is stepping in, asking that the Obama Administration do something about the case to reunite Tim Coco. He’s also co-sponsored the Uniting American Families Act, something the family-obsessed GOP will surely get their panties in a bunch about. Here’s a bit from the Boston Globe:

Genesio “Junior” Oliveira, who is married to Haverhill advertising agency owner Tim Coco, returned home in August 2007 after he lost his asylum case and appeal, which was based on his story that he had suffered a brutal rape and discrimination in Brazil.

In a letter this week, Kerry asked Attorney General Eric Holder to overrule the lower court and grant Oliveira asylum. In the letter, Kerry criticized Immigration Judge Francis Cramer for rejecting the asylum plea even though Cramer had found the testimony credible. Kerry said it was “outrageous” that Cramer noted that Oliveira was not physically harmed by the rape.

“The injustice of the initial denial of Junior’s asylum claim continues to this day,” Kerry wrote in the letter. “I hope that you will review this case and determine that the denial of Junior’s asylum claim was in error and let him return to this country.”

As head of the Department of Justice, Holder oversees the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Holder will review the letter and respond to Kerry, spokesman Charles Miller said yesterday.

Evidently, stressed more heavily in the New York Times report, the immigration judge had said in his ruling, with no evidence, that Genesio Oliveira was not harmed when he was raped, a conclusion that can only be reached if one imagines that gay men wish to be raped. Yeah, there’s some stark and ugly logic going on here by the judge in his actions to tear apart a family, but stark and ugly logic on the issue of gay and lesbian citizens is par for the course for the extremists who walk with Bush on the issue.

The Obama Administration has much to clean up after eight years of Bush. It isn’t just the bungling by Bush, but also the meanspirited laws designed to harm Americans. There’s the bottom line. Genesio Oliveira harms nobody be staying in this country, and the stable family relationship he holds with Tim Coco profits all of us as a society. But the Bushies are not about profiting us as a society, not by any evidence.

This is a crime, a moral crime.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Sarah Palin, Mired in Debt, Whines, Begging for Donations

Sarah Palin has over half a million dollars in legal debt, and she’s whining about it. Everyone is out to get her, evidently. Now she’s thinking of starting a legal defense fund, where she will beg people to donate to help her out. Meanwhile she is not accepting stimulus package money that will help Alaskans with their troubles.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Of course Sarah Palin had to defend herself from ethics accusations, many of which came from before she entered into last year’s Presidential race. Evidently her legal fees are well over a half of a million dollars. I’m thinking the solution would have been not to let her husband meddle in the affairs of government and try to get someone fired, but that train left the station. Now Sarah Palin has worlds of whiney excuses for her debts. They all stem from politically motivated accusations, she says. Yes, everyone is out to get Sarah Palin. Victimhood is a familiar place, I’m sure. Maybe she’ll start accusing domestic terrorists if this ploy doesn’t work.

The wonderful part of this story is about how Poor persecuted Sarah is going to get those monstrous debts paid off. She’s going to beg people for money. It is sort of a Republican welfare thing, isn’t it? They’ve all got their legal defense funds, don’t they? Here’s a bit of the story from the Anchorage Daily News:

Legal bills have mounted fighting complaints that she called partisan, false and frivolous, starting with “the politically motivated Troopergate probe,” Palin said in a written response to questions.

She said the legal bills all stem from her actions as governor.

“I must defend against these baseless ethics accusations out of my own pocket as the use of public monies to do so could itself violate state law,” Palin wrote.

The debt, amassed since she was catapulted into the national spotlight during the presidential race, was revealed in her annual financial disclosure filed this week with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

“On August 29, it seems the political landscape changed in Alaska. Now, it seems in order to do this job as Governor, with the political blood sport some are playing today, only the independently wealthy or those willing to spend their income on legal fees to defend their official actions in office … can serve,” Palin said in the written response to Daily News questions.

The debt is owed to the Alaska law firm Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness, according to her financial disclosure.

The disclosure said only that she owed “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” On Friday in the written statement, attorney Thomas Van Flein wouldn’t give a precise number but said it was “a substantial debt.” Palin said she didn’t have an exact figure yet but “the debt is over a half a million dollars.”

I’m thinking most people who go on welfare don’t have the nice peachy house Sarah Palin lives in, nor do they have a job that pays over a hundred thousand dollars a year. No, and most people wouldn’t have committed the ethics violations Sarah Palin did, either. Still, she’s entitled, I suppose, to rely on the kindness of strangers, even if she is trying to deny Alaskans with real hardship from getting the services they need in refusing stimulus funds.

Hey, maybe since one of the ethics charges is that she let Todd Palin run rampant and try to control government personnell decisions, then he could sell his snowmobile collection to help pay off the legal debts. Heck, or maybe Sarah Palin could have simply come clean.

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Labor Pains: The Media, the Administration, and the Economy

This year, I’m writing a Labor Day column. With all the layoffs and unemployment, with the blatant anti-labor biases of the current administration and the decisions by the pro-corporate National Labor Relations Board that will linger long into the next administration, next year there may not be much American labor to write about.


Commentary By: Walter Brasch

Once a year, I and a few dozen other reporters and columnists write a Labor Day story. And, like most Americans we don’t remember our history.

We don’t remember that the Knights of Labor created the first Labor Day in 1882 and that Congress made it a national holiday in 1894.

Almost none of us will write about the personalities of the labor movement. About Mother Jones (1830-1930), the militant “angel of the coal fields” for more than six decades. About “Big Bill” Haywood (1869-1928) who organized the Industrial Workers of the World, a universal coalition to fight for the rights of all labor. About cigar-chomping Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), the first president of the American Federation of Labor, a job he held for 38 years.

We won’t be seeing any stories about Sidney Hillman (1887-1946) who led strikes in 1916 to reduce the work week to 48 hours, from the standard 54–60 hours, and then helped create the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) before becoming a major political force for workers during the labor-friendly Roosevelt administration. Missing will be remembrances of Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), known as the “father of grassroots political campaigns” who worked alongside Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) who used Alinsky’s tactics to organize the United Farm Workers.

Hardly any of us remember Heywood Broun (1888-1939), one of the nation’s best-paid columnists who risked his own financial stability to create The Newspaper Guild in 1935 to help those reporters making one-hundredth of his salary. Most reporters never heard about him or the history of the Guild. After all, we may believe that unions are acceptable for factory line workers, but we’re “professionals,” and mistakenly believe we don’t need unions; we’ll just continue to get assigned unpaid overtime and split shifts, while working for low wages, minimal benefits, and without a minimally-accept

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 by Walter Brasch |

Where You At, Dude?

Crank it up…rock on…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

You could email this link to Paul, if you really wanted to…

Krugman@nytimes.com

Saturday, March 21st, 2009 by Richard Blair |
Category: Inspirational
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