Shout-out Friday: AIG and VCU

Well, I made it through my five-mile run at 5 a.m. this morning — with birds chirping and snowflakes smacking me in the forehead. Wow. Must be nearly time for baseball here in NE Ohio. And I was mentally chewing on whether I should be more upset at AIG or VCU.

Ah, VCU, I guess. If VCU would have stuffed one in the hoop at the buzzer in its game with UCLA last night my bracket would be golden. Instead, it’s basically defunct, much like Obama’s reform agenda, caused by the AIG shitstorm this week. Go figure.

So let’s get to it: Shout-out Friday.

Shout-out No. 1: AIG. Compelling drama and theater of the absurd this week. Who knew what? When? Anything at all? Unfortunately, this is serious stuff — and not just because of the $170 billion in bailout money or $165 million in “retention” bonuses. More important — and I’ve mentioned this in other posts this week — is that at some point we as a nation have to restore trust, confidence and credibility. Clearly, a long way to go — and maybe not that much time to get there.

Here are some other random observations relating to the national AIG shout-out that we witnessed this week.

  • Few in government or on Wall Street distinguished themselves as this debacle unfolded. One who did: Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings. I saw him interviewed several times on TV, and he was thoughtful, reasonable and actually knew what was going on. And as Michael Kinsley writes today in The Washington Post, Cummings has been sounding the alarm for months about AIG. Here’s a post Cummings had on The Huffington Post in November, “A Bonus by Any Other Name Still Stinks.”
  • Somebody better hand me a barf bag next time I see or hear the expression “best and brightest” applied to any of the Wall Street Wizards. Granted, many on Wall Street are expert at manipulating data, paper and money and making deals that generate big bucks. But if you hold most to a higher standard — one that requires some moral and ethical accounting — then they come up bankrupt. Judith Warner has an interesting take on this in her March 12 NYT blog post, “Better and Brighter.”
  • With all the media — old and new — words, noise, chatter and Tweeting about AIG, do we really understand what’s going on here? Or what the implications are for our economy and nation going forward? Not sure. Yet I wonder if Nicholas Kristof didn’t hit on something in his NYT op-ed yesterday, “The Daily Me.” Perhaps technology is just allowing us to expand our individual — and collective — echo chambers. If so, are we any more informed? Probably not.

Shout-out No. 2: Kent State students and faculty heading on spring break. Hey, have a great week. And don’t worry. I’ll still be sitting here as a pajama-clad citizen journalist protecting democracy. Well, that may be overstating it a bit. But you get the point. Still, if you are going to Mexico, be careful. By all accounts it’s a third-world country in the midst of a drug war. And people there tend to shoot first and ask questions later, if at all.

OK. Back to the Big Dance.

Folks, if Siena travels the same route as VCU, things could get nasty in my little world. That game with OSU today is a damn bracket buster if I ever saw one.


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