Morning Links

Thursday, March 19th, 2009
  • You know, the judge is kinda’ right, at least in this case. And to be honest, given the mass of wrongful Dallas County convictions DA Craig Watkins has helped bring to the light of day, you’d think a member of the Dallas city council would have more important things to worry about. Like why his city and county have allowed so many innocent people to be convicted.
  • Speaking of “you’d think they’d have more important things to worry about….”
  • Old photo shows KGB spy Putin posing as a tourist during a visit from Ronald Reagan.
  • Jack Shafer may well be the country’s best drug war journalist, if only because of his efforts to keep other drug war journalists in line. Here, he takes on a Washington Post piece improbably claiming that PCP is making a “comeback.”
  • Tucker Carlson blasts John Stewart. And he makes some good points. I’ve always thought Jim Cramer was a clown. But Stewart’s jihad against Cramer made Stewart look like self-righteous bully. And I say this as someone who’s generally fond of Stewart’s interviewing. Or at least I was before Obama moved into the White House.
  • Never thought I’d say this, but good for Maxine Waters.
  • So there a dog people, and then there are “dog people.”
  • Washington State officials warning citizens that NCAA tournament pools are illegal. Why not play the lottery instead?
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  • 63 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  billy-jay | 

      Don’t know if you’ve seen this one yet, Radley:

    2. #2 |  Omar | 

      From the cop’s statement on the dog link…

      I then had Owen read the Bestiality statue (sic) from the Indiana Criminal Code and said, “am I going to be charged with this?” I explained to her that she would be and asked her if she thought that the files were deleted when she gave consent to search the laptop. She said that she didn’t even think about the videos and that they were just something she did when she was drunk and barely remembers it. She said that she remembered trying to delete them the next day when she was sober. I asked Owen if she thought that the videos accurately reflected the crime that she read in the statute and she said that they did.

      Q: What is the lesson here?
      A: Don’t ever talk to the police, don’t ever talk to the police, don’t ever talk to the police.

      She’s guilty because she says so. And the police were nice enough to write down everything she said to use in a court of law against her.

    3. #3 |  Mattocracy | 

      I always thought Stewart was an ass. But not as much of one as Colbert.

    4. #4 |  ClubMedSux | 

      Re the second link:

      “In the United states and Texas, we don’t allow our teens to purchase cigarettes until after they are 18 because it is a carcinogen,” said Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton. “Yet we don’t do that for tanning beds, which can expose teens to the same risk for cancer.”

      Assuming the risk is roughly equivalent (and I have no knowledge of melanoma vs. skin cancer statistics) he’s kinda got a point there. I would be totally against it if we were talking about adults, but if you accept the premise that the government should prevent children from smoking I fail to see what distinguishes one carcinogen from another.

    5. #5 |  Sam | 

      Poor Jim Cramer. He definitely ought to get the benefit of the doubt after offering piss poor advice about the marketplace. And Jon Stewart is a bully! Actually asking people about the things they actually said. Real journalism picks an set of beliefs and defends it to the core via their coverage…

    6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

      And that is a great pic of Putin.

    7. #7 |  anonymous | 

      The teen tanning bed thing… not such an easy issue, even for libertarians. I tend to believe that teens have too few rights, but I’m not sure whether we should allow 13 year olds the right to irreperably mutate their melanocytic DNA. Yes, they can otherwise just scorch their skin on the beach, which would probably pose a similar cancer risk.
      However, the bottom line is that, no matter your side on the issue, you can probably realize that the issue of autonomy for kids is not one with consistently obvious solutions, even for libertarians who generally favor allowing for kids to have more freedom.

    8. #8 |  z | 

      While it’s true that 2008’s rate of 10 percent positive was the highest rate for defendants in five years, what do you suppose the positive rate was in 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004? That would be 9 percent, 9 percent, 8 percent, and 6 percent

      Jake Shafer calls this 1 and 2 percentage point increases, while technically true it’s also bullshit. How about a 67% increase from 2004 to 2008? That would be more accurate. Seems like a significant increase to me. Rather than “ripping apart” the article Shafer just exposes his ignorance of math and his own preconceived bias masquerading as an article.

    9. #9 |  Adolphus | 

      I enjoy Stewart while at the same time realizing he is an entertainer and can sometimes be the bully you describe him to be, all the while feeling guilty for enjoying it so much. I wish more responsible journalists would be harder on politicians and the media so someone like Stewart doesn’t have to be.

      However, Stewart did not start a jihad against Cramer. Stewart originally aired a segment directed against all CSNBC of which Cramer was only a part. It was Cramer that then went on virtually every news show in the NBC stable (including Martha Stewart) to be CNBC’s avatar on this. Cramer chose the role and Stewart picked up the challenge. Had Cramer kept silent the whole thing would have been forgotten like so many Daily Show bits. I am not absolving Stewart, merely pointing out that it took two to tango.

    10. #10 |  Josh | 

      Whether Jon Stewart’s program is totally fair or not, it’s pretty evident that Tucker Carlson has a grudge. In the last conversation Tucker and Jon had on air, Tucker got what was pretty popularly seen as a thorough rogering, and the tone of the article Radley linked makes it pretty clear he’s still bitter about it.

      If you subtract that bitterness, there’s not much to Tucker’s article except, “Jon Stewart’s interviews may not be totally fair.” Then again, neither are Tucker’s.

    11. #11 |  colson | 

      I say we shoot the kids, eat the babies and move on with our lives (all on PCP of course).

    12. #12 |  Kit Smith | 

      I think Stewart looked bad in his interview because he expected Cramer to fight, and Cramer came in waving the white flag and Stewart beat him around anyway. I don’t think that the show has particularly gone out of its way to not make fun of Obama, though. There are still plenty of times where, as an Obama supporter, I cringe and laugh at some of the stuff he points out as being ridiculous (Gordon Brown’s gift of a pen and pen holder made from the hull of the sister ship of the Resolute, whose hull went to make the desk in his office vs. 25 DVDs for a region that won’t play in England always pops into my mind for some reason).

      I think Stewart’s on a fight to try and raise public awareness and try to get the news media to try and do their jobs. The self-fellating tendencies of the media to pat themselves on the back for a job well done, getting caught up in the minutiae of the moment instead of stepping back and looking at the big picture (like the Beltway pundits asking if Obama is already a failed president 5 weeks into his term), the ridiculous conflicts of interest and appeals to ratings as opposed to doing actual news. People don’t get it when he criticizes “journalists” for not doing their jobs and when attacked hides behind the “I’m a comedian!” routine when they point out that he’s not doing investigative journalism, but you know what? I don’t expect comedians to be doing investigative journalism, I expect journalists to be doing it, and it’s a sad testament to our media that they don’t do their jobs. Jon Stewart is just on the front lines of pointing out that the news orgs need to stop patting themselves on the back and figure out that just because they’re winning the ratings war or bringing in advertising dollars doesn’t mean they’re doing a good job at actually reporting news.

    13. #13 |  Mike | 

      I must have glossed over a bit when I watched Jon Stewart last week. I thought the whole point of the Cramerfest was that CNBC can give bad financial advice. I didn’t notice the claims of it giving intentionally bad advice, just the normal kind. These claims seem to be the basis of Tucker Carlson’s article.

      The original piece which #9 is correct and was not about Cramer, was pretty darn funny contrasting a CNBC analyst stating we shouldn’t be helping people that made poor buisness decisions, with CNBC giving poor buisness advice.

    14. #14 |  David | 

      Z, calling it a 67% increase in five years does but I wouldn’t call it “more accurate”. That’s the sort of bullshit manipulation of statistics that happens in most news stories.

      As for the NCAA pools being illegal, I always hope that the public would see that it’s another area where something has been outlawed even though an overwhelming majority finds nothing wrong with and even engages in it, then maybe start to look at why. They never do, but I can dream.

    15. #15 |  Edwin Sheldon | 

      From the Carlson piece:

      Stewart summed up the significance of what Cramer had said on the tape: “You can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear and at AIG, and all this derivative-market stuff,” he said sternly.

      Except that you can’t draw any such line. In the video, Cramer hadn’t mentioned derivates or securitized loans or credit-default swaps, or any of the other exotic financial instruments that caused the fall of AIG and the current recession. There’s no evidence that Jim Cramer had anything to do with any of that, and Stewart didn’t offer any.

      Carlson misundersood Stewart. Apparently, a lot of people did. Stewart didn’t say Cramer had anything to do with Bear or AIG. Stewart was suggesting that the unethical behavior Cramer so candidly embraced is similar to the unethical behavior displayed by many in the market right before it crashed. He essentially said douches like Cramer are just as shady as the douches at Bear. I am inclined to agree.

    16. #16 |  E.Z. | 

      Comments 9 and 15 pretty much sum up the Stewart v Cramer issue.

      What keeps bothering me is the assumption that Stewart and Co. are going easy on the Obama administration. Despite the show’s left leanings (about which they make no secret), they’ve been very critical of Obama and Co. so far, especially where he’s failing to live up to their expectations.

      It’s as if everyone expected that TDS would go easy on a Democratic president, so people who aren’t watching the show just assume that must be the case. And no one seems to remember that this is the *second* Democrat in the White House since Stewart started; they were pretty rough on the last one, too.

      Maybe it’s just that I had low expectations, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how little slack they’ve given the new administration.

    17. #17 |  PogueMahone | 

      Shorter Tucker Carlson: I don’t find Stewart funny ever since he nailed my ass to the wall on Crossfire. Why can’t Stewart just do what he does best and be a clown, and leave the serious business of serious journalism to my serious fellow colleagues at NBC and their seriousnessness. Seriously.

      It’s odd how some people are just now finding out that Stewart and the good folks at The Daily Show are being self-righteous asses. They’ve always been self-righteous asses. It’s what they do. It’s what all comics do.

      Stewart is not an expert on economics. And as we discover time and time again, … who is? But like Edwin states above, Stewart highlighted the unethical practices of Cramer and the like to fit nicely with other unethical practices. And he’s right to do so.
      Carlson now puts himself with this rant, in a position of looking like the self-righteous ass he complains about. And I actually like Carlson, not because I believe he’s more right than wrong, but because I always get the impression that Carlson actually says what he thinks – whether I think it’s right or wrong – rather than spouting off inconsistencies he believes will be popular with others of his political persuasion.

      Also mentioned above, this all started with that prick Santelli and his own self-righteous douchebagery. Stewart pokes fun at him, Santelli and others jump to the defense, and guess what happens when you pick a fight with a talented comedian… rubber v. glue, and so on.

      Stewart is a late night comedian, his job – of which he does so well – is to throw pie in the faces of people in the spotlight. And some targets, like Santelli and CNBC, are easier targets than others. Stewart is in the comfortable position of being on the outside throwing pies at those on the inside, and thus maintaining a reasonable expectation of being largely irrelevant. And to Carlson’s displeasure, Stewart’s popularity and talent makes him all the more untouchable.

      Bottom line is, that no one tunes in on The Daily Show for financial advice. Therefore, he is not as accountable as those who bill themselves as a business news network.

      And actually, Carlson should consider himself lucky that it now seems that the talent at The Daily Show has bored themselves onto other easy targets.


      p.s. Stewart has been and will be easy on Obama. He does have a ratings responsibility. If it’s a The Daily Showesque comedy to constantly poke fun at Obama you’re looking for, you may want to check out NewsBusted. Go on… I dare you… see if you can last 30sec. I double-dog dare you.

    18. #18 |  Kid Handsome | 

      As to the first link, where you agree that the judge is “kinda right,” I think we know what you would say if the roles were reversed.

      As for Stewart, I’ve always thought he was one of the worst perpetrators of “sound byte politics” and I’ve said as much here in the past. I don’t think he’s particularly funny, and it’s annoying that he never proffers any real ideas. He’s not a comedian, he’s a political critic . . . and not a very good one at that.

    19. #19 |  Jim Collins | 

      Anytime money changes hands and the Government doesn’t get a cut, someone in Government will call it illegal.

    20. #20 |  Eric | 

      What do the folks in Texas think about tanning beds being a great (controlled) source of vitamin D?

    21. #21 |  Ben (the other one) | 

      My only problem with Stewart’s session with Cramer was when he criticized Cramer for going easy on CEOs who appear on his show. Although The Daily Show clearly leans left (i.e., towards reality), Stewart almost never takes on a right-winger who appears as his interview guest.

      Exhibit A: Stewart’s recent interview of former Assoc. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, on the show to tout her efforts to encourage civics education. I’m sure that in Stewart’s mind, O’Connor is at worst a hypocrite for having thoroughly screwed the country by backing Bush in Bush v. Gore (a decision whose rationale she wouldn’t have applied in any other case), or at best trying to atone for that enormous sin. Rather than call her out on it, though, he made light of it, telling her that he had a “bone to pick with her,” and then– after letting the tension rise– citing her vote in a much more obscure case.

      The reality is that Stewart treats his right-wing guests with kid gloves for precisely the same reason Cramer kisses up to business executives: because he wants them, and others like them, to come on his show.

    22. #22 |  DJB | 

      “black/White” rhetoric does nothing for “race” relationship. Saying “Black folk…vs…..white folk” anything is making collective group assumptions that are generally inappropriate.

    23. #23 |  t. reed | 

      God help me. The Republican Party is so bad, they have chased me into the arms of Maxine Waters. I am now the idiological soul mate of a Marxist.

    24. #24 |  Greg C | 

      While I think #22 has a point, I think the bigger issue is what Craig Watkins has done and why the government has a problem with freeing innocent men. The racial “outrage” is just an excuse to remove a judge who used a poor choice of words but is probably one of the only decent guys there.

    25. #25 |  ice9 | 

      TOBen said

      Stewart treats his right-wing guests with kid gloves

      Go back and watch Stewart on Crossfire. He goes right after them, both, and savages them–calls them “hacks” repeatedly, calls TC ‘a dick’, etc. And he wasn’t kidding; he wasn’t going for the laugh (and everybody on the show, in the audience, was caught off guard). It was real, and he was right, dead right.

      My only problem with Stewart’s posture is that he keeps hiding behind the comedian label when he’s clearly attempting to castigate journalists who are (as he said at least eight times on Crossfire) “hurting America.” That’s not an attempt to be funny. If anything, it’s a sharp type of satire where he’s infiltrating areas of concern with his comedian’s credentials then ambushing people like Cramer with a journalistic sensibility. That pisses off the “real journalists”–in this case, well-off personality-driven outlets like Crossfire that can’t piss off the sources they suckle on. But that’s wrong, and Stewart has showed it (and Colbert too in his way) repeatedly.

      Fact is, anyone can be a journalist–there’s no credential, only product–and the hackery that Stewart was condemning is predicated on the idea that only people with a forum and a stake are or can be journalists (which the blogs have, thankfully, eroded significantly.)

      As a journalist and one very frustrated with the state of the press especially in its reporting of the Bush administration, I have to say that it’s about time somebody did that, and did it hard. I too felt pity for Cramer, but at least he had the eggs to walk in and take the hit (which Santelli and the rest of the hacks deserved more).
      Stewart didn’t lay into Cramer out of cruelty, or even for entertainment’s sake; he did it to make the very serious point that journalists like Cramer and Santelli and Doucheboro are corrupted, coopted hacks. Cramer had to sit still for it, but it was aimed past him at the rest (as Stewart said three separate times.)

      Stewart is right to attack these hacks, simply because they failed at their job, which was–ready for it?–to attack, to probe, to question, to doubt, to challenge. That just ain’t been happening, and our money’s gone and people are dead as a result.

      If Stewart doesn’t work Obama the same way (give him time–Obama hasn’t done much yet)–I’ll quit watching and call him a hack, too.


    26. #26 |  concernedcitizen | 

      #2 That’s exactly right. While her behavior was outrageous, she never would have been convicted had she not told the police officer to search her computer and given him permission. Worse, she told him she did it, that she recognized it was against the law, and gave him all the details of the encounter. It’s pretty much a slam dunk.

      But even worse than that, she authorized the officer to keep searching! This is a girl who doesn’t learn things the first time. Who knows what might be on that computer, but she does suspect there might be child porn. If there is, what do you want to bet SHE gets charged for it, since she’s the owner and operator of the computer in question. Since she’ll already be a sex offender, it’ll be pretty easy to nail that on her too.

      Stupid. Don’t talk to the police. They are not there to help. Their job is to put people in jail, and the more you interact with them, the more you give them an excuse to do their job.

    27. #27 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      Maxine Waters gets something right?
      Tucker Carlson gets something right?

      And that old, broken clock seems to have the right time!!

      There’s not a single investor that listens to “Kiss-of-Death” Cramer. Oh, there are plenty of gamblers and speculators, but no investors.

    28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      “the dog…began to lick her (woman parts)…then appeared to lose interest and walked out…”

      LOL! Now THAT is good police report writin’. That dog is no gentleman.

    29. #29 |  KBCraig | 

      Leftists are natural bullies (they just prefer to use the government, in a bully-by-proxy scheme). Comedians are generally bitter and angry.

      John Stewart is an angry and bitter bully who stopped being funny a long time ago. Right about the time he stopped trying to be funny except as a mask for his “serious” commentary.

    30. #30 |  Jeff | 

      All I can say about Stewart in general is that I’ve been disappointed in the Daily Show for a while. In the earlier part of the decade (until about 2004) I thought it was hilarious and the staff were giving it their all. These days it seems like a portion of each show is just phoned in. Stewart falls back on his Bush impression far too often in my opinion. It always seems like he’s just trying to eat up time when he relies on that because it often takes the place of an actual joke.

      If the only way Stewart can respond to a video clip he showed is to say “$@%# you” or repeat whatever the target said in a disbelieving or sarcastic tone, I would prefer that he not show the clip in question. At the end of one of the CNBC segments, Stewart said that he couldn’t decide who he would rather see in jail: a man who ran a ponzi scheme cheating people out of money, or the interviewer who didn’t spend his interview attacking that man. This statement seemed to be made only to get a cheer out of his studio audience. I could do without the histrionics.

      In response to 21-

      You and I must have different definitions of “kid gloves”. Whenever I see Stewart interviewing a right-wing or libertarian guest, he questions and challenges their actions and assumptions. The left-wing guests get a segment to promote their latest venture or slam whichever right-wing person has gotten in their way lately, interrupted only by Stewart agreeing with them. Take a look at his interview with Jonah Goldberg: he attacked him nonstop (justified in my opinion). But you’ll never see him argue with a left-wing guest or even challenge their hyperbole, regardless of whether the guest is saying that all right-wingers are waging war on science or attacking reason or anything. He’ll just smile and nod. The left-wing guests are the ones getting the kid gloves.

      I thought the response you cited for the Sandra Day O’Connor interview was entirely appropriate. That court case has been discussed at length many many times, so there was not much chance of getting any new information out of the interview especially given the limited time. Instead, Stewart mentioned the disagreement and moved on to a more interesting and timely topic.

    31. #31 |  Guido | 

      I wasn’t aware it was illegal to have a dog lick you. I’ll be sure to avoid all dogs now.

    32. #32 |  Alien | 

      If one dog licks another dog’s private parts, which dog gets charged with bestiality? Or do one or both dogs just get shot when the SWAT team shows up?

    33. #33 |  UCrawford | 


      That was the biggest joke about the whole thing…she didn’t even have sex with the dog (which is what bestiality implies). Well, the biggest joke aside from bestiality being a criminal offense, since animals don’t (and shouldn’t) have rights.

      Got to love the cops…lady comes in because she thinks her ex-boyfriend may have been engaged in legitimate criminal activity and wants to report it, but since they can’t find legitimate criminal activity to merit an arrest they decide to arrest her on bullshit criminal activity for trying to do the right thing (assuming that she wasn’t just trying to railroad the ex, which the report seems to indicate she wasn’t).

    34. #34 |  Alien | 

      I think she should retract her original statement, state clearly that what happened on the video was NOT sex (with a dog), and call Bill Clinton as her first witness.

    35. #35 |  Dakota | 

      The ironic part about Stewart v. Cramer is that somehow people are tying to box the CNBC crowd into the “investigative” journalist role. Talk about disingenuous. When the fuck did people go to Santelli and Cramer for serious reporting?

      My favorite was the “it’s not a fucking game” shot. Stewart is right that’s WHY you pick up the FT, or log on to Bloomberg, not invest on advice from a guy who uses “drive time” radio noises.

    36. #36 |  Edmund Dantes | 

      satire isn’t a form of comedy? hmmm… learn something new everyday.

    37. #37 |  Adolphus | 


      I suspect she would be charged and rightly so. If you read through to the police affidavit you will see this is all part of a custody dispute and that she gave the police the information while she was in jail for public intoxication and, I realize I am inferring on this last point, probably worried she might lose the custody dispute after she sobered up in jail and tried to cast aspersions. If they did find child porn on the computer which story would you buy if you were a cop? That the guy left the photos on her computer and she “thought” they might be there so she took them her computer or she put the kiddie porn on her computer and took the computer in to the cops to frame him so she could win the dispute and maybe get consideration for her current plight? If there were pictures on her computer of kiddie porn, do you think there is a scintilla of evidence they are anyone else’s but hers?

      I remember not to long ago when this blog and its commentators were suspicious of jail house snitches.

      I think this is a singular case of one person (possibly two, although the only evidence I have seen against him is a menage a trois with a beagle) being dumb as a sack of hammers and that cops will arrest you if you hand them the evidence against yourself stuffed in a donut and wrapped in a pretty package.

      I see no lesson of never talking to cops here. Just act like you have at least seen Law and Order once in awhile or even Adam-12 for GSD’s sake talk through your lawyer.

      I’m as skeptical of the police as the next person, but sometimes a dumb ass is just a dumb ass.

    38. #38 |  Chris in AL | 

      I watch the Daily Show 2-3 times a week, and I have seen no shortage of barbs against the Democrats or Obama. Everybody who says or does something worthy of ridicule seems to get a healthy dose of it. Bush and his crew made it particularly easy and took the lion’s share of it before, but I have not seen Stewart take it easy on Obama, the Dems in congress, the cabinet picks or goofy policies.

      I thought Stewart did go too far in the interview with Cramer. He basically laid the blame for the whole current state of the economy on Cramer, like Cramer had some moral obligation to engage in some investigative journalistic expose of corruption rather than a gimmicky stock picking show. While we expect people who claim to be investigative journalists to do certain things with stories, Cramer is no more an investigative journalist than Stewart is.

    39. #39 |  Adolphus | 

      @UCrawford # 32

      She did not “go in” with the computer. She was already in jail. We should look upon her acts and statements with the same skepticism as any other jailhouse snitch looking to get consideration for his/her current legal problems or get favors from authorities.

      According to the affidavit (a dangerous assumption I know, but it is all we have to support ANY conclusion in this story) I can’t find anything the cops did wrong here. I wish my job were so easy.

    40. #40 |  Omar | 

      @#36 | Adolphus

      Obviously this woman is out of her mind. I wasn’t pointing to the obvious “don’t talk to the cops by bringing your computer for you to search”. I was specifically referring to the part where the policeman asks her to read the law and tell him if she broke it. The lesson is not to her, it’s to everyone else reading. When the police start asking you to admit guilt, you shut up or lawyer up. I think this police report is a good illustration of the techniques the police use to get confessions from people.

      No doubt, those instructions would be lost on this woman. The justice system is designed to convict the uneducated. It’s important that we educate ourselves.

    41. #41 |  Mike | 

      “I thought Stewart did go too far in the interview with Cramer. He basically laid the blame for the whole current state of the economy on Cramer, like Cramer had some moral obligation to engage in some investigative journalistic expose of corruption rather than a gimmicky stock picking show. While we expect people who claim to be investigative journalists to do certain things with stories, Cramer is no more an investigative journalist than Stewart is.”

      I think the problem is that Cramer is marketed as an investigative journalist. From the synopsys of his program you would think he spending off hours researching companies so he can give quality advice. Further this show is marketed on a network devoted to news (which is presumably based on facts) whereas Jon Stewart is marketed on a network devoted to entertainment. If “Mad Money” were on Comedy Central I don’t think there would nearly as many issues with Cramer’s show. Now certainly nobody is perfect and perhaps Cramer is even a decent analyst but I sure would like to see some data to back it up, and there should be this data if he is marketing himself this way.

    42. #42 |  Matt D | 

      I can’t say I cared much for the interview with Cramer, but mostly because I think they weren’t communicating very well. Stewart obviously isn’t a financial guy, which I think left Cramer a little flummoxed when he was called on for response.

      That said, I think Stewart’s main points were valid.

      1) It is ridiculous to castigate homeowners for biting off more than they could chew when the bulk of the supposed experts in the field were making the exact same bet and are now expecting billions of $ from tax payers to prop up their failed businesses/government.

      2) Financial journalists really seem to have done a pretty terrible job here. Did you hear Cramer’s justification for his infamous remarks about Baer? It basically boiled down to “I know the CEO.” Now I’m not sure what sort of investigation Cramer could have done beyond that, and I’ll grant that people shouldn’t have been taking advice from him in any case, but again, he was put forth as an expert by an organization that you’d assume has at least some interest in maintaining credibility, and having a quick chat with an old buddy was enough for him to go on air making assertions about Baer at a time when anyone could have seen that they were in danger of collapse if not already inexorably bound for it.

    43. #43 |  Chris in AL | 

      OK, going off topic here, but the House just passed legislation to implement a 90% tax on the bonuses paid to AIG execs. While it still has to pass the Senate next week, it brings up an interesting question.

      Does Congress have the authority to implement a new tax on money that has already been paid? If passed, would such a tax survive legal scrutiny? Wouldn’t this open the door to say, going back and levying a higher tax than the existing tax code allowed on big oil’s profits from last year, the year before or earlier? Can we retroactively change tax law because we find something distasteful?

      I think the AIG bonuses are as big a crock as the next person, but from my understanding they were part of their contract. If AIG refused to pay them the people would sue and the binding contract would hold up in court and AIG would have to pay anyway. Second, the only reason AIG can pay these bonuses with tax-payer money is because they were given tax-payer money in the first place. I think congress’ and the administration’s, ‘outrage’ at AIG is nothing more than an attempt to divert the anger away from where it belongs. AIG isn’t the one that paid these people for failure…we are.

    44. #44 |  Mattocracy | 

      Stewart can chastise the news media all he wants, and I’ll agree that the news media seems to be more about entertainment than actual news. But when people call out Stewart for soft balling his guests, he can’t just say, “Oh, well I’m a comedian and not really journalist so the same rules don’t apply.” I mean he can, but that just makes him a hypocrite.

    45. #45 |  Zargon | 

      “Does Congress have the authority to implement a new tax on money that has already been paid?”

      Implicit in this question is the assumption that congress does have the authority to tax future earnings. But what is the moral difference between congress declaring that they, and not you, are the rightful owners of X% of your previous labor, and congress declaring that they, and not you, are the rightful owners of X% of your future labor?

    46. #46 |  Steve Verdon | 

      OK, going off topic here, but the House just passed legislation to implement a 90% tax on the bonuses paid to AIG execs. While it still has to pass the Senate next week, it brings up an interesting question.

      Does Congress have the authority to implement a new tax on money that has already been paid?

      IANAL, but here is my understanding:

      Technically, no. This law would basically be a bill of attainder and an ex post facto law which are both prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

      However, the U.S. Constitution means less and less everyday so who the fuck knows. What will be really cool is if this gets by the SCOTUS and then we have punitive taxes…special pain-in-the-ass taxes that the party in power can levy on its critics. Cool, eh?

      Hmmm, Cynical must be on vacation or something.

    47. #47 |  Steve Verdon | 

      Oh and by the way, Geithner almost surely knew about these bonuses for sometime. He did run the NY Federal Reserve Bank which put together the initial AIG deal. He was also insturmental in TARP, and other bailouts. This idea that he didn’t know is just what you expect form politicians a lie.

      And think about this, the money for the bunuses is less than a 10th of 1% of the bailout money AIG has gotten. This is a trivial issue. The economy has much more serious issues and everyone is focusing on this. Yes, by all means lets get so caught up over a piddly amount of money (when viewed in context) that we lose sight of the larger issues.

      Maybe we should stone a few people to death, maybe that will get the economy turned around.

    48. #48 |  Chris in AL | 

      I think it would be easier to just add the 165M on the top of the 80B AIG owes. Tell them that it may be in the future, but before you are free and clear of your obligations to the tax-payers, you are going to eat the 165M. Not sure how legal that is, but I bet they could get it to fly more easily than this nutty tax idea.

    49. #49 |  Chris in AL | 


      I’m feelin’ ya, but their right to tax earnings was granted by the people by going along with it for so long.

      Now, the difference between past and future earnings is quite simple. You should know and be able to calculate how much your tax obligation is going to be. It is the only way to plan how you will spend whatever portion of your money the government is going to graciously allow you to keep. Increasing a tax on past earnings does not allow for that.

    50. #50 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      When they came for the AIG bonuses (in a reaction to the mob), I said nothing…

      And when they come for you and me, no one will stop them.

      Queue “Elephants Walking” music because this is a circus. When is the return to 1980 tax rate of 70%?

    51. #51 |  EdinTally | 


      Re: Tucker

      Really? Good points? It was one long personal attack that attempted to make Stewart look like he was “crazy”. Have you jumped the shark?

    52. #52 |  Warren | 

      Am I sick for wanting that bestiality report read to me by Bill O’Reilly?

    53. #53 |  Radley Balko | 

      Have you jumped the shark?

      I have no idea what that means. Are you suggesting I’m pulling ridiculous, shameless stunts in a desperate attempt to boost my sagging readership? Because that’s what “jumping the shark” would mean in this context.

      I don’t see any ridiculous stunts. I’m not desperate. And my readership is going up, not down.

      I seem to have written a couple sentences you disagree with.

      Get over it.

    54. #54 |  Steve Verdon | 

      Really? Good points? It was one long personal attack that attempted to make Stewart look like he was “crazy”. Have you jumped the shark?

      Just curious you really think that without Cramer we’d not be in the current financial mess we are in? That was what Stewart was implying.

      And the idea of sitting on the biggest new story of the last 50 years to….what exactly?

      Sure maybe Carlson has a grudge to settle, but c’mon those two things sound laughably stupid.

      If these two claims stand up despite Carlson’s personal animosity towards Stewart, then Radley is right, he does have a point or two that make sense.

    55. #55 |  Michael | 

      I thought it was interesting that the woman with the laptop thought she was going to get her ex in trouble. Then, they find, only, her video. Nothing on him.

      I see that as justice! I guess, I, also, see it as a lesson in “what goes around comes around”. If she would have not tried to screw her ex over, her indiscretions would never have been discovered. But when you find yourself up to your ass in alligators, remember, all you set out to do was drain the swamp!

      She screwed herself!

    56. #56 |  Andrew Williams | 

      Good to see Shafer keeping the Post’s feet in the fire. I’ve admired his work since I first read it in the Washington City Paper.

    57. #57 |  Larcenia J. Bullard, D-Miami | 

      I warned you!

    58. #58 |  Samsam | 

      Regarding retroactive tax increases:

      In short, no problem, it’s been done many times before.

    59. #59 |  old | 

      #43 | Chris in AL | March 19th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

      Does Congress have the authority to implement a new tax on money that has already been paid?

      I don’t believe it will get past the Senate, and if it does, the law will be declared un-constitutional. Of course, as another poster stated the constitution means less and less. But I think where money is involved the constitution still has some strength, after all taxing these bonuses isn’t the same as torturing terrorists, or torturing people who you payed other people to say were terrorists. We shall see.

    60. #60 |  andy | 

      I’m with you on John Stewart. His show has gone downhill ever since the election in it. I thought it was just because he couldn’t make fun of Obama, but in reality the writing has just been terrible. Anyway, his attack on Cramer was pretty stupid, and I only heard about it through the news channels because I don’t watch the show much anymore. After I heard it a few times, I wondered why Stewart would keep attacking Cramer. He never gets that serious about jokes and it’s just weird to see him try to be that serious.

    61. #61 |  James | 

      Glad to see Carlson does not hold a grudge for Stewart ending his career. Crossfire was a polarizing pointless show. All it was about was getting two people to argue across the table and no consensus reached. I was very glad when Stewart showed up and pointed out the show’s absurdity.

    62. #62 |  Drew | 

      Mr. Balko, FYI: the link to the Carlson piece is actually a print link, which means that anyone who clicks through is then prompted to print the page. That probably wasn’t intended. :)

    63. #63 |  Wayne | 

      Regarding that “dog people” thing — a dog performs oral sex on a pig — how can you charge the pig under a bestiality statute?