Ron Paul, and Paulistas, Make the (Sexy and Dangerous) News

Surreality and reality hit Ron Paul and the Paulistas this week. First we find that Sasha Cohen’s Bruno will feature Ron Paul getting punked during last year’s Presidential run. He left the set muttering “queer” over and over. Paulistas are whining, and about a Missouri report on militias that targets Ron Paul bumper stickers.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Ron Paul is also going to make it in the movies, where he will be playing the punkee to Sasha Baron Cohen’s Bruno. The scene, as described in Slate, is really funny. Bruno’s character is the flip side to Borat, a very heterosexual character who punked his way across America on the way to being a film sensation. Heck, the full title says it best about Bruno: Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-shirt.

Evidently Cohen, playing Bruno, talked Paul into an interview in a suite at a Washington hotel. When a light blew out on the set Cohen and Ron Paul retired to another room while the engineers set about fixing the problem. That’s when Bruno went to work, with soft lights and mellow music. The story, according to Slate, is that Ron Paul stormed out of the room when he realized Bruno/Cohen was attempting to seduce him, muttering the word “queer” several times ont he way out. Lew Rockwell is all angry, of course, as are many Ron Paul supporters. And there’s the usual litany of Republican whiney excuses and recriminations. From Slate:

A spokeswoman for Paul confirmed that the episode took place but declined to provide details. “We don’t want it to distract from his message,” said press secretary Rachel Mills. “Now is the time when people need to be listening to him on economic issues.”

Mills, who was present at the taping, did elaborate on the “queer” line. “I heard him say –weird,’ ” she wrote in an e-mail. “In any case, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer as Folk … it’s not exactly a shocking term if that’s what he did say.”

Mills also noted that Cohen’s people were “very deceptive in their tactics.” At the time, she thought they were “legitimate,” but now confesses to some concern. “I’m familiar with his work, so you can imagine how I feel about it,” she said.

Look, I’m not going to get into anything about the ideas of Ron Paul. But let’s face it. When he did this interview in early 2008 he was trying to convince the country that he could be President of the United States. Sure, Sasha Baron Cohen is good, but it is ridiculous for a Presidential candidate, with all the layers of campaign and PR people surrounding him, to be so thoroughly fooled. He disqualifies himself as Presidential material, and that’s the bottom line.

Now I’m going to get all sorts of comments on here defending Mr. Paul. His people are all about that. But I want to warn them that they are now targets of investigators in Missorui. Yeah, that’s the “Dangerous” part of the title up there. The State of Missouri recently put out a report called the “Modern Militia Movement,” and it gives out telltale signs of what to look for in a homegrown terrorist. That Ron Paul Bumper Sticker? It’s on the list. From KansasCity.com:

A new document meant to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists has drawn criticism for some of the warning signs mentioned.

The Feb. 20 report called “The Modern Militia Movement” mentions such red flags as political bumper stickers for third-party candidates, such as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president last year; talk of conspiracy theories, such as the plan for a superhighway linking Canada to Mexico; and possession of subversive literature.

Of course this is getting blown all out of proportion by the Paul people. There’s whining at the American Conservative, at Right Side News, at Gather.com, and at Prison Planet. I particularly like Lew Rockwell’s frothing at the mouth, titling his blog post, “If you’re reading this blog, you could be a terrorist…”

Let’s get real. Police need to compile ways of keeping track of the possibility of homegrown terrorists. It is pretty clear in this country that those folks share some of the beliefs of Ron Paul, coming as it does from trend data about milit

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |

Jim Bunning, (R-KY) Has Bad Taste

Jim Bunning (R-KY) spoke out about Ruth Bader Ginzberg’™s cancer this weekend, actually predicting he imminent death. There is no excuse for a grown man being so crass. But he is a Republican, and there are many examples of such ugly behavior from that side of the aisle, so many that this should not surprise us one bit.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’™m willing to say it, that a comment implying anyone is dying soon is in very poor taste. That’™s what he said Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’™s Lincoln Day Dinner. Evidently predicting the death of someone he doesn’™t care for. . . he knows yhat will plat to his base? From the Louisville Courier Jounal:

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months.

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’™s Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges ‘œand that’™s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘¦ has cancer.’

‘œBad cancer. The kind that you don’™t get better from,’

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

$350,000 Bonus Weeks Before Bankruptcy

Brian Tierney, CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, was awarded $350,000 in bonuses despite already planning to take the company into bankruptcy. Most of us would have problems with this, and his creditors appear to agree with us. But it is par for the course, a Republican rewarded for incompetency, isn’t it?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Brian Tierny, CEO of the Philadelphia Inqurier has surely been trying hard to revive his small piece of the failing newspaper industry, Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., the parent corporation that publishes the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. Heck, Brian has brought in insipid and failed Republican shills like Rick Santorum to write columns on the OpEd page, and he’s placed advertisements on the front page. The ad campaign for the papers boasts of the huge savings one can get from coupons rather than the fine reporting that used to be the core of the paper. Meanwhile, the reporters who are responsible for that fine reporting, are ever in danger of layoffs.

It turns out that just a couple of weeks before Brian Tierney took the company into bankruptcy he accepted a bonus for his stellar efforts. From Editor and Publisher:

The company filed for bankruptcy in February, citing $395 million in debt, much stemming from the 2006 purchase by a group of local investors led by Tierney.

The newspaper company recently lowered its 2009 income projections from $25 million to about $10 million before taxes, interest and other expenses.

Nonetheless, the company in a court filing defended $1.34 million in bonuses paid to 45 employees at the end of 2008, shortly before the Feb. 22 bankruptcy petition. The filing did not specify the amount of Tierney’s bonus, but published reports have put it at $350,000, on top of his $518,000 salary.

Let’s see. In 2006 money was easy to be had, so Brian Tierney, in all his forward-thinking wisdom, brought together investors who leveraged themselves in order to buy the paper from McClatchy, which had recently acquired the paper in its takeover of Knight Ridder. Times change. The newspaper industry may just be going the way of the buggy whip, as John McCain might say. Of course, the lenders owed money by PNI are not all that happy with Brian Tierney, as reported, honestly, it seems, by his own Philadelphia Inquirer, complete with Tierney’s whiney defense:

Tierney said he was looking forward to testifying on the taping and the lenders’ charges that he was enriching himself with raises and bonuses despite the company’s financial distress.

The lenders said in a court filing that Tierney “has used the debtors’ assets to further his own self interests.. . .”

Tierney said the major creditors had sought to retain him as CEO and offered him generous compensation if he instituted their restructuring plans.

“They offered me $2.5 million in equity value . . . up front,” Tierney said. He said they also offered him an additional $1.2 million in salary and bonus, that would bring the entire package to $3.7 million.

“This is what I will testify under oath next week,” he said. “I have it in writing. I rejected this. This is why it’s so disingenuous for them to say they’re upset.”

The bottom line for me is that if a company is failing so much that it is headed for bankruptcy protection, handing out bonuses for strong performance is idiotic. Of course, it is possible these are not bonuses for strong performance, but bonuses negotiated by Tierney that kick in no matter his performance. It isn’t like a Republican shouldn’t be rewarded for his incompetence, after all.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Push Poll About Energy

I just got a phone call, a push poll probably sponsored by the energy sector in this country. The distortions int he questions pushed greater exploration and claimed it would create jobs. That is counter to the energy plan that’s on the table. They sure didn’t mention global warming or energy dependence. Renewables? Not so much.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I just answered it moments ago. There were two questions, besides the ones that asked about my gender and age. The first straw man they brought up was about how the energy companies were blocked from exploring for oil, and the second question claimed there would be 160,000 jobs if only the energy companies could explore for oil with no impediment.

Now I’m thinking the energy companies have made a huge amount of profits in the last couple years. I’ve heard also that several energy companies have backed out of research into renewable energy and the like. They must know that in this political environment they aren’t going to get a great reception on Capital Hill. So where do they spend those billions of dollars of profits? Push polls!

I’m sure the energy companies have a lot of real smart people working for them, but push polls are not going to change American attitudes or policy. Sure, if the real smart people at the energy companies are Republicans they just might think push polls are a good idea. But, really, all the thinly disquised advocacy poll is going to do is piss people off when they see through the poll. Sure, there might be many people who can’t see through a push poll, but I’m betting America as a whole is wising up to that tactic. And think about it a moment. The part of the electorate they need to convince, the educated part of the electorate, is voting Obama. And they’re the ones, my gut tells me, who are going to be offended by the energy companies spending their profits by trying to trick people concerning energy policy.

Stupid, stupid.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

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 |

What a Trillion Dollars Looks Like

This is pretty freakin’ awesome…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

I’m an old warehouse hand, so I can wrap my head around the concept of pallets. You probably can, too. A full pallet is approximately 4–² X 4–² X 4–².

All this talk about “stimulus packages” and “bailouts”…

A billion dollars…

A hundred billion dollars…

Eight hundred billion dollars…

One TRILLION dollars…

What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I’d take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like

(h/t PhillyBits, via twitter…)

Saturday, March 21st, 2009 by Richard Blair |

AIG and Goldman Sachs – How We Got Here from There

How screwed are we? It’s worse than you think…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Following my long week of dogging the AIG executive bonus issues, I had planned to spend this day unwinding a little bit. Those plans were made before I spent the morning reading (and digesting) Matt Taibbi’s latest Rolling Stone piece, The Big Takeover.

It’ll take you awhile to read through the article, but after you’re finished, I promise you that you’ll have a better handle on the depth of the financial crisis this country is facing, why Fed chief Ben Bernanke is full of shit when he says “we’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year”, and who the major players were that got us into this mess.

Here’s your “Marie Antoinette moment” from Taibbi’s investigation:

“We, uh, needed to keep these highly expert people in their seats,” AIG spokeswoman Christina Pretto says to me in early February.

“But didn’t these –highly expert people’ basically destroy your company?” I ask.

Pretto protests, says this isn’t fair. The employees at AIGFP have already taken pay cuts, she says. Not retaining them would dilute the value of the company even further, make it harder to wrap up the unit’s operations in an orderly fashion.

The bonuses are a nice comic touch highlighting one of the more outrageous tangents of the bailout age, namely the fact that, even with the planet in flames, some members of the Wall Street class can’t even get used to the tragedy of having to fly coach. “These people need their trips to Baja, their spa treatments, their hand jobs,” says an official involved in the AIG bailout, a serious look on his face, apparently not even half-kidding. “They don’t function well without them.” [emphasis mine]

Basically, Taibbi says, we’re screwed.

The financial future of this country rests in the hands of a very few people who, ultimately, were at least partly responsible for getting us into this mess in the first place: Bernanke and Geithner, along with their ex-Goldman Sachs minions.

After reading Taibbi’s lengthy piece, it’s clear that there is absolutely no accountability for the strategies that have been put in place to solve the problems. Congress can hold all of the hearings that it desires, but neither Geithner nor Bernanke (or the unilateral policies of Treasury or the Fed) are answerable to congressional oversight.

If, as AIG CEO Edward Liddy claimed on Wednesday, AIG execs who received bonuses are really paying them back, it’s not necessarily because they’re trying to stave off the Marie Antoinette moment that’s at hand (although that could certainly be a motivator), but because whatever bonus money they’re now receiving is literally WAM – walking around money – for these execs. Their bank accounts are already fat from spending your money at the Wall Street casino, and $2 or $3 or $6 million extra dollars just doesn’t mean that much to them.

And no, there aren’t going to be any scraps left at the table for you at the end of the day.

Update: Greenwald puts some wood on this one and hits it out of the park. And confidential to Joe Nocera: your douchebaggery is showing.

Saturday, March 21st, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Lennon / McCartney Address the AIG Concern Trolls

In the current AIG bonus outrage, a face has finally been given to an amorphous economic mess. People are angry, and now they have a target (justified or not) for the vitriol being directed toward our current national circumstances. Radical social change, in the form of revolution, has been spawned from much less.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Earlier today, I posted a link to a New York Times article on the heat that AIG executives are currently feeling. Needless to say, I’m not particularly sympathetic. While I don’t think anyone in the progressive blogosphere is overtly calling for a Marie Antoinette-style social accounting, there’s a certain visceral satisfaction in knowing that the AIG bonus kerfluffle is causing a bit of angst among the upper crust.

The NY Times article implies that AIG execs are scared for their families and children due to anonymous / unsourced “death threats”. That’s completely understandable, if true. However, I find it odd that according to the same article, none of the unidentified execs who’ve expressed this concern have actually contacted their local authorities. Wouldn’t it make sense that if someone were receiving such threats, that they’d be getting on the phone to their local constabulary and demanding that someone in law enforcement investigate the threats? Or that they’d at least be packing for a quick getaway to the house in Aruba for a week or two until the current shitstorm passes?

One other thing that’s caught my interest over the past few days is a variety of comments I’ve read regarding the potential for a populist uprising – AIG bonuses only having been the straw that broke the camel’s back. While some of the comments seem supportive, many of them work a variation on an old Beatles theme: “You say you want a revolution; we’d all like to see the plan.”

The funny thing is, the lyrics to the song, Revolution can be viewed as Lennon and McCartney’s parody answer to the concern trolls of their day. Or not. Pick your interpretation.

In the late 1960′s, at the height of the Vietnam war, The Beatles were trying to tell us something:

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world…

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We’d all love to see the plan…

Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney were visionaries. We can argue all day (and probably a college semester worth of academic analysis) over the meaning of the lyrics. But if you view the lyrics in terms of current day discourse in internet forums, the words make a lot of sense as applied to the online “want a plan” concern trolls.

There has been no revolution in the course of history, including America’s own revolution in the 18th century, that really had a plan, per se. Revolution, peaceful or otherwise, has always been the spawn of perceived social injustice.

True social change happens because we, the people finally hit a breaking point. Revolutionary incidents just happen – there aren’t flow charts, power point presentations, war gaming, etc. – just a critical mass of pissed off people of regular means who have finally gotten tired of the status quo.

Revolution tends to be preceded by attempts to change the system internally. When those attempts are co-opted from the inside, or fail due to brutal oppression, people start to try to force the desired social change from the margins of society. Incident by incident, the margins start to push toward the center, and if / when momentum for change builds to a rolling boil, either the lid flies off the pot (violent revolution) or cooler heads from both sides reach for the heat controls and turn down the flame via accommodation of grievances.

But let’s be clear: revolution never starts with a plan. It begins with true anger (and disparate incidents) that eventually coalesce into a larger action. When that larger action grows sufficiently to become self-sustaining, change finally happens – and then the power point slides can be developed to map out a path forward.

Revolution is messy and untidy, by lack of an inherent plan or design. Lennon and McCartney parrot today’s concern trolls:

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright…

It’s hard to believe that anyone in a civilized society in 2009 would actually view violent civil unrest as a desirable outcome of social injustice, and we can all hope that it will never come to such a conclusion. But many years ago, long before the Beatles pressed their first vinyl, Thomas Jefferson expressed a “natural law” that even Clarence Thomas could get behind:

…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…

We’ve reached a point of national self-examination where it’s time to truly reconsider the direction we’re heading, and America’s contribution to global society.

Barack Obama was elected president on a platform of step-change, not incremental improvements. The 2006 congressional tidal wave that carried over to 2008 was born from the same desire. I opined many months ago that to affect real change, Obama had to be willing to be a one term president, and totally dismantle the status quo, no matter how loud the howls from the right wing oligarchs.

That’s the first stage of revolution described above: where attempts need to be made to work from the inside. And that’s OK, as far as it goes. If Obama is not willing to take the chances, and is not willing to be a one term president, then it’s easy to imagine that the margins will start to push on the outside of the envelope. That’s when it gets ugly.

We can all hope and pray that the need for such a radical social overhaul will never become so black and white, because there will always be charismatic (and less desirable) potential leaders ready to fill the void from the margins. The end result could be truly less desirable. Unfortunately, that is exactly the outcome that our government and its corporate benefactors seem to be courting.

Some days, it’s almost like they’re daring us.

Friday, March 20th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

AIG Loses Some Cover in Court Decision

The story gets worse for AIG, with Andrew Cuomo getting a New York Supreme Court ruling which will back his subpoena of the other day. Meanwhile, we’re not focusing on the real issue across the business world, that marketing trumped core business principles. AIG offered new insurance products that weren’t properly vetted. We need to bring the guys in green eyeshades back.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Richard wrote the other day about Andrew Cuomo demanding the names of those receiving bonuses at AIG. Heck, those bonuses, presumably claimed for “merit” at a company that received 182 Billion in bailouts – they’re today’s biggest story. AIG’s Chairman and CEO Edward Liddy made a complete hash of his testimony yesterday, claiming the performance bonuses are legitimate, but also saying he’d asked his executives to give some of the money back. Ludicrous reasoning there, and while it has been reported, the media seems to have given Liddy a pass. Certainly GOP Chair Rush Limbaugh is defending Edward Liddy and those bonuses, and many of the rest of the Republicans are dishonestly blaming Christopher Dodd.

Let’s get this straight. It is very simple. AIG performed miserably last year with the highest quarterly loss in the last quarter ever seen in the history of business. They performed so miserably they needed a bailout, a fucking HUGE bailout. That someone at AIG thought it was OK to give out bonuses is a sign of just why AIG hit the Guiness Book of World Records under the category of quarterly losses – they’re making stupid business decisions.

Hey, and here’s another stupid business decision. They blew off New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo when he asked for a list of the names of those who were raking in the bonuses. It doesn’t do to get Andrew Cuomo mad. And yesterday Andrew Cuomo got a court decision that helps him in investigating AIG. Remember when he asked for details on those last minute Merrill Lynch bonuses and Bank of America, new owner of the failed Merrill Lynch, told Cuomo to take a hike? Well, New York State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Fried has ruled and forced Bank of America to comply. From ABC News:

Attorney General of New York Andrew Cuomo took Bank of America to court to force them to reveal the information, after the bank said it was proprietary. But Wednesday New York State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Fried denied Bank of America’s motion to keep the names secret saying the Attorney General of New York has the “authority to decide whether the information he gathers as part of his investigation should be kept secret or public.”

Wednesday’s decision could set a precedent on the issue of revealing bonus details to the public. Cuomo has also subpoenaed AIG to reveal the names and amounts of the controversial bonuses issued late last week to members of their Financial Products division, blamed for the insurance company’s disastrous losses in 2008.

“Today’s decision in the Bank of America case is a victory for taxpayers. Let the sun shine in. Justice Fried’s decision will now lift the shroud of secrecy surrounding the $3.6 billion in premature bonuses Merrill Lynch rushed out in early December,” said Cuomo following the decision.

“Bank of America chose litigation over transparency and we are gratified that this tactic has failed. AIG should take heed and immediately turn over the list of bonus recipients we have subpoenaed. The deadline for responding to our subpoena is tomorrow. More litigation is not the answer – it is time for AIG to come clean,” he warned.

AIG is certainly going to have to attend to Cuomo now. Whether Cuomo has a legal case is another matter. Still, AIG and the marketing of insurance products needs to be exposed probably more than those bonuses. It appears they did little in the way of investigatng the risks involved in insuring sub-prime mortgage backed securities, an investigation that used to be at the heart of the insurance business. That was the job of those guys with the eyeshades in the back room – to figure out whether the risks were worth it. Instead AIG appears to have let marketing create newer and riskier products, and then to pay the marketing “geniuses” huge bonuses for their steady insurance acumen. What a mess.

Meanwhile, folks everywhere are being foreclosed upon, including churches. And AIG executives, flush from years of insane bonuses, sit pretty.

Thursday, March 19th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

AIG Headquarters for Sale

$100 million seems like a bargain for a 66 story skyscraper in the canyons of NY City’s financial district…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

AIG HQAs I reported last night, the American International Building, AIG’s world headquarters at 70 Pine St. in New York City, is up for sale. According to the NY Post:

Bonus-bloated AIG is trying to scrape up another $100 million or so bucks by selling its 66-story Art Deco headquarters downtown…

AIG hired Cushman & Wakefield, whose brokers, Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan, sent out an e-mail to prospective buyers Monday boasting of the “breathtaking views” from the site, 70 Pine St.

But AIG probably will get only a fraction for the 77-year-old building that it would have gotten when the real-estate market was booming.

Industry sources said 70 Pine could have fetched around $320 million then. Now AIG will be lucky to pocket $100 million…

Cripes, that’s hardly even a dent on the bonuses the company paid out this past Friday. Still, the building might be a bargain – in fact, maybe one of the AIG bonus babies could use the cash they raked in this past Friday as a down payment. There’s a condo building next door (56 Pine St.), where a studio apartment goes for over $400,000.

Since the American taxpayer now owns 80% of AIG, does that mean we own 80% of the equity in the building?

Update, 2:15PM: 16 hours after a blogger broke the story, AP goes with it. They were in error, claiming the NY Post broke the story. I’m sure that they regret the error.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by Richard Blair |
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