‘A’ is for ‘chutzpuh,’ lipstick on Saint Paul’s pig, the right to videotape police, Kluwe on Kluwe, and the day on Planet Creepy.
remember the crook that broke his leg robbing a house then sued them for negligence on safety? yes, well he’s now AIG’s gen counsel
— Austan Goolsbee (@Austan_Goolsbee) January 9, 2013
You’ve probably seen this ad on TV from AIG, the giant insurance conglomerate that got a ton of bailout cash. What’s the reason for it?
Former American Public Media reporter Heidi Moore, now of the Guardian, sorts it out. She calls it a “thank-you” ad, but says the problem with it is AIG isn’t thankful at all. It’s about to sue the U.S. for imposing harsh terms in exchange for the taxpayer cash.
The chutzpah of this is indisputable; it’s like demanding royalties from your doctor because you got sick and thus gave him business. A Comedy Central Twitter feed sardonically noted, “Watching this ad is like receiving a thank you note from a guy who ‘borrowed’ your credit card information.” It followed up with an incredulous blog post that started: “AIG may be a corporate behemoth that needed billions of taxpayer dollars to pay off its toxic debts (and to sponsor an English soccer team and pay huge executive bonuses), but darn it, it’s a polite corporate behemoth.”
It escapes no one’s notice that, during the throes of the financial crisis, when money was hard to come by, AIG wrenched $182bn from the federal government because of two factors: its enormous importance to the financial system, and its repetitive tendency to shoot itself in the foot with over-reaching investments. This is in keeping with AIG’s history of being dragged, kicking and screaming, to every bit of financial discipline that saved the company. There are many who would say that the four years that the company spent in the finely manicured hands of treasury secretary Tim Geithner were the only thing that saved AIG from its own past of self-destructive investing impulses.
“This is a real slap at the taxpayers of the country and a real slap at the government of the United States,” the head of the NY Fed tells Marketplace.
Related: A letter from AIG (humor)
When Macy’s announced it is shutting down its Saint Paul store last week, reporters dutifully reported the apparent giddiness of city officials, who claimed it presents a “great opportunity” to the city, no longer as susceptible to the economic blows it once was.
A week later, someone is saying what a lot of people have been thinking. Paul Olson, the former president of the Blandin Foundation, writes in an op-ed that city leaders are engaging in “deception,” criticizing both city officials and the media for putting lipstick on a pig.
Olson says the projects downtown boosters cite — a Saints ballpark, light rail, the Xcel — are almost all government-funded projects, not private investments in a thriving downtown.
Recall the once-grand headquarters of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads, which J.J. Hill promised would create the Inland Empire, starting here! Remember that 3M once thrived on St. Paul’s feisty East Side, and that West Publishing was in the heart of the city. And the oldest corporate citizen, The St. Paul Companies, was headquartered here.
There were breweries, like Hamm’s and Schmidt’s. Northwest Airlines was based on St. Paul land granted to build the airport. Weyerhauser, American Hoist, the Ford assembly plant — all are gone.
Sure, some of this is the result of the “creative destruction” that is a necessary part of capitalism. But who at City Hall ran up a red flag and asked: Why are so many major firms departing, and what can we do to prevent future losses?
These departures have decimated the service businesses left behind. St. Paul once boasted the Minnesota Club, where Hill and the other captains of industry dreamed about a vital region based on agriculture, forestry, mining, transportation and finance, then recruited millions of immigrants to make it happen.
Related: Here it is, your daily dose of hopelessness…
It’s not real hard to figure out why some law enforcement members aren’t thrilled with the idea of someone holding a camera, filming them making an arrest. But the Constitution says we the people have a right to do just that. And yet, we get a constant stream of stories about people running afoul of officers for doing that.
The Pioneer Press today carries the story of Andrew Henderson, who filmed Ramsey County sheriff deputies frisk a man.
Henderson, 28, took out his small handheld video camera and began recording. It’s something he does regularly with law enforcement.
But what happened next was different. The deputy, Jacqueline Muellner, approached him and snatched the camera from his hand, Henderson said.
“We’ll just take this for evidence,” Muellner said. Their voices were recorded on Henderson’s cellphone as they spoke, and Henderson provided a copy of the audio file to the Pioneer Press. “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.”
Henderson calmly insisted he was within his rights to do what he was doing. He refused to give his name.
His is the latest in a string of cases nationwide involving citizens who record police activities.
Henderson got his camera back. Everything on it had been deleted.
He was also charged with violating privacy laws, a charge a law school professor describes as “nonsense.”
Chris Kluwe, the Vikings punter who is so much more around here, has been on the national stage the last 24 hours. Last night he was on the Colbert Report.
Yesterday, Mother Jones provided an additional interview with Kluwe
MJ: Speaking of consequences, you’ve been tweeting a bit about warm winter temperatures in the Twin Cities. Can we expect a climate screed sometime soon?
CK: [Laughs.] Quite possibly. It’s one of the things that infuriates me–people who say, “Oh, there’s no climate change, just a local hot phenomenon.” You can’t argue with the scientific data that storms are getting more severe and droughts are getting more severe, and the planet is heating up. One of my favorite cartoons has one lecturer standing next to another lecturer saying, “What if we’re all terribly wrong and we made the world a better place for no reason whatsoever?”
MJ: What else drives you nuts?
CK: Stupidity in general. Willful ignorance. Not being able to look at the long-term consequences of your actions and realizing what you do will have ripple effects down the line. It pervades everything single aspect of our society. Look at football. Football is a growing business right now and we’re cutting funds to NASA and all sorts of science programs. You’re telling me that us running around playing a kid’s games is more important than our children learning? That, to me, is ridiculous.
Some people still don’t see what the big deal was the other night during the college football championship game.
Musburger was held accountable, as he was the person in our ears waxing lascivious over a woman who had no idea she was being spoken about at that moment, or in what capacity. Musburger’s comments, taken at face value, insinuated that Webb had worth based solely on her looks and that an attractive woman should be incentive for youngsters to want to play football. Because women, according to Musburger’s ramblings, are prizes to be won. Foregone conclusions. If you play quarterback for Alabama, you will be given a woman that will make an ESPN announcer say, “WHOA!” on the air.
Musburger felt comfortable insinuating those things on a national broadcast in the year 2013. This, above all else, is why someone needs to be held accountable. Because it has to start somewhere.
Musberger’s reaction was creepy, indeed, in keeping with the entire beauty pageant culture, a world where the goal is to get people — including 70-year sports broadcasters — to say “whoa,” for all the wrong reasons.
As a result of all of this controversy since the game, Donald Trump has invited Katherine Webb to be a judge at his Miss Universe pageant.
Related (and you know it is): Trafficking of girls a bigger problem than most believe, officials say
Bonus I: Following up on yesterday afternoon’s post on the “D” grade assigned to Minnesota schools by Michelle Rhee’s group, here’s the entire documentary that aired last night from PBS’ Frontline. It was an excellent piece of journalism.
Bonus II: A rare sight in the Twin Cities these days. People playing musical instruments like violins and cellos.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s birth. Today’s Question: How would you describe Richard Nixon’s legacy?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Why it’s hard to make it in America.
Second hour: The pumpless heart.
Third hour: Transportation issues before the Legislature.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): On what would have been President Nixon’s 100th birthday, historians discuss his complicated legacy.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR considers how to deal with unwanted donations in the wake of a major disaster. People often flood charity groups with helpful donations — food, clothing, medicine. Well-meaning donors also send Frisbees, chandeliers, and other not-so-helpful items. Unfortunately, those wind up getting in the way of urgent relief efforts.