Christmas is almost here, and Spencer Ackerman and I know that some among you probably aren't done shopping yet. We've got some ideas from dolls to pardons, in between musings about Cheney and Cox [sic].
MEGAN: It is very rare that the news is so full of crap as today, which is why I guess they call Fridays "news dumps." That said, I believe Obama's dump of his advisers' Blago contacts is best represented by this doll which portrays him taking a physical dump. I love this doll. I want one so bad that I actually mentally scrolled through everyone I had ever met — including in Spain in 1995 — to think if there was anyone I could get to buy me one.
SPENCER: Can you summarize the Blago stuff for me? I don't want to read it. Like I really don't care.
MEGAN: Rahm Emanuel called him twice pro forma and everyone is as clean as a whistle. The end. Duh.
SPENCER: I see that even this Weekly Standard writer says, "Yep, not raising any flags for me, either. Now, everybody go on vacation." So is this actually the end or will it go on endlessly like Whitewater?
MEGAN: It will go on endlessly like Whitewater, no doubt. I'm just waiting for someone's cats to disappear or Michelle Obama to be accused of faking someone's suicide. I cannot believe you are ignoring the pooping Obama doll. In other crap, Karl Rove thinks Joe Biden is trying to consolidate power too much. I mean, I just mention it because it seemed like you might need a good laugh. We can stop laughing when Joe Biden gets a man safe, a secret bunker from which he can practice his necromancy and begins to age in reverse, but until then...
SPENCER: Maybe it's because it's Christmas but I can't bring myself to care about a pooping Obama doll. Also can we stop using the word "pooping." What happened to respectable slang terms like "shitting"? "Poop" sounds like something you coo to a baby. It's not like you can't curse on this blog
MEGAN: Shit smells. This is plastic. Ergo, in my mind, it is poop. These things are very strictly delineated in my mind. Also, my parents are walking in and out of the room, so I am apparently unconsciously self-censoring like I did in high school.
SPENCER: What's beautiful about that Rove quote, aside from the hypocrisy — which is pro forma at this point — is his bald assertion that he knows what Biden and Obama talk about. Hilarious. I can't wait for this asshole's book.
MEGAN: I believe we can say "Until he shits out his book," because, man, that's going to reek.
SPENCER: Also, did you catch Jason Linkins' Twitter-meltdown last night? WTF
MEGAN: I will admit something right now that likely makes me a bad friend to Jason. I follow him online but no longer get updates to my phone since he started Twittering football.
SPENCER: Oh I took him off my phone long ago. I have a zero-tolerance policy for over-twitterers.
MEGAN: To make up for that embarrassing admission, I will post what he would have said last Friday had circumstances preventing us from doing Crappy Hour:
Since circumstance robbed us of our Friday Crappy Houring, I wasn't able to say something that I wanted, which was what a highlight of the year it was for me to participate in Crappy Hour, and to thank the jezebel community for their many kindnesses. It was a real honor and a privilege.
SPENCER: And in fairness, I think I might have been live-tweeting that particular Redskins game with him and Greg Greene and Amanda Mattos. AWWWWWW I would say the same thing, but I'm not gay. :)
MEGAN: Aw, you guys.
SPENCER: OK so now to discuss Chris Cox?
MEGAN: Oh, fuck yeah.
Christopher Cox, the embattled chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is defending his restrained approach to the financial crisis, saying he has provided steady leadership as Wall Street's main regulator at a time when other federal regulators have responded precipitously to upheaval in the markets.
This is a great quote:
"What we have done in this current turmoil is stay calm, which has been our greatest contribution — not being impulsive, not changing the rules willy-nilly, but going through a very professional and orderly process that takes into account unintended consequences and gives ample notice to market participants."
Like watching every investment bank it oversees self-destruct?
MEGAN: But that's not his job!!
"The public might not understand that that wasn't the SEC's job," he said, adding that the agency was not responsible for preventing investment banks from collapsing but rather for sheltering their securities trading units from problems in the broader corporation. "The SEC is not a safety and soundness regulator," he said.
I also like this part:
Cox said the biggest mistake of his tenure was agreeing in September to an extraordinary three-week ban on short selling of financial company stocks. But in publicly acknowledging for the first time that this ban was not productive, Cox said he had been under intense pressure from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to take this action and did so reluctantly. They "were of the view that if we did not act and act at that instant, these financial institutions could fail as a result and there would be nothing left to save," Cox said.
Um, hey, asshole? There's a reason why you got a 5-year term instead of a political appointment: so you wouldn't cave to political pressure to do stuff you know if bad.
SPENCER: No one can resist Hank Paulson. That's how you got those hickeys. What would Dennis Prager say?
MEGAN: Dennis Prager would say that Chrissy Cox should just lie down and spread her legs even if she's not in the mood! Which is apparently what Cox did!
It became the agency's responsibility to monitor them for financial and operational weaknesses under a program set up before Cox's tenure, but under his watch they got into such trouble that today they no longer exist as investment banks. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers failed, Merrill Lynch had to be taken over, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted themselves into bank holding companies.
The March collapse of Bear Stearns illustrated an array of agency shortcomings, according to a review by the SEC's inspector general. He concluded that agency officials had been aware of "numerous potential red flags" at Bear Stearns "but did not take actions to limit these risk factors."
"It is undisputable," the inspector general concluded, that the "program failed to carry out its mission in its oversight of Bear Stearns."
SPENCER: That's how Cox thought the country needed to show the markets it loved them
MEGAN: I mean, the problem is that Cox was kind of a slut, he'd just spread 'em for anyone.
Treasury and Fed officials viewed Cox and his staff as nonplayers who had failed to foresee the brewing problems, according to people who were involved in those efforts but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. They said Cox was often brought in for consultation only after major decisions had been made by Treasury and Fed officials.
Let's just say it: Bush nominated a random conservative Congressman from New Jersey to head the SEC because he didn't want anyone there who was particularly smart, engaged, knowledgeable or into regulating jackshit, and Cox fit the bill because he was a reflexive deregulator. And would get confirmed easily because Congress rarely fails to confirm its own.
SPENCER: Since I am not qualified to talk about what actually happened in the financial crisis I want to remind everyone that Chris Cox has been a conservative darling forever. Here's the American Spectator on who should be McCain's running mate:
Chris Cox: The best choice, bar none. This thoughtful and reform-minded chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission made his name for 16 years as the brainiest and perhaps most principled Reaganite conservative in Congress, as well as one of the best on TV.
MEGAN: I needed a good laugh, thanks. "Reform-minded," meaning, "let's get government out of the way of the markets so they can run the universe and make everything sunshine and rainbows!!"
Chris Cox is fabulous. He should be president. The only negative — alas, a big one — is that he has never managed to generate real excitement, even when running what should have been sexy hearings on big issues. He is obviously very smart, and a true policy wonk — the sort of guy who usually runs big, serious, difficult government institutions or departments. Is he a vote getter?
So at least that's fairminded!
MEGAN: "Sexy hearings on big issues?" Because the American public loves a wonk, and particularly the Republican American public. The last eight years have completely proved that. Speaking of, the red states are about to get more Congress members in 2011. California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania are gonna lose. Which means: vote in your state elections next year and in 2010!!
SPENCER: Oh beautiful. This will bolster the arguments of all conservatives who don't see themselves leading the GOP into regional-party marginality to push the party rightward. And here I was thinking Afghanistan will doom the Obama administration.
MEGAN: And I was all excited that a judge ordered the release of 4 Gitmo detainees and The Europeans might be willing to accept some Gitmo detainees in resettlements deals. But we should end on a high note. Of the people Bush pardoned for Christmas, one was Charlie Winters, posthumously.
Mr. Winters was among a group of several hundred Americans and Canadians referred to by the Israelis by the Hebrew acronym of “machal,” or “volunteers from outside Israel.” They secretly helped in Israel’s war of independence in 1948, a year after its creation as a Jewish state.
He was an Irish-Catholic from Boston, and never said a word about it to his son. He was also the only one who did any prison time for it.
SPENCER: Yeah I have to give Bush credit for that. Dayenu. What a merry Jewish Christmas.
A very heartfelt thanks to Esquire's James Folta for the news (and picture) of the squatting Obama doll