The DC Morning: 3/12/2010

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) New Lehman report tars, feathers Timothy Geithner — The new report by Anton Valukas about accounting fraud at Lehman Brothers suggests that “the NY Fed, and thus Timothy Geithner, were at a minimum massively derelict in the performance of their duties, and may well be culpable in aiding and abetting Lehman in accounting fraud and Sarbox violations,” writes the team at Naked Capitalism. Valukas, who investigated Lehman’s failure on behalf of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, found that the Fed was aware for years that Lehman had been using questionable accounting methods to reduce the amount of debt that appeared on its balance sheet, but did nothing to discourage the practice. Writes Yves Smith, “Even though Lehman dressed up its accounts for the great unwashed public, it did not try to fool the authorities. Its games playing was in full view to those charted with protecting investors and the financial system.”

2.) Global community still loves U.S. currency most of all — While the nation’s growing mound of IOUs–many of them labeled “To: China”–continues to worry people who worry about these things, USA Today reports that “there’s one big group that’s singularly unimpressed by the size of the deficit.” That group would be “the world financial markets,” all of which love the dollar. According to USA Today, the currency traders reason that the U.S. deficit isn’t that bad relative to gross domestic product, and that the dollar is markedly more stable than the Euro, which has turned out to be the currency equivalent of that person in your office who works really hard and gets a ton of things done in half the time as everyone else, but is secretly a raging speed-freak who spends his off hours wandering through strip-mall parking lots keying cars with license plates that end in a prime number.

3.) White House hung Desiree Rogers and her expensive wardrobe out to dry — It wasn’t the party crashers who got former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers fired, reports the New York Times. Nor was it the glitzy magazine photo spread Rogers sat for while wearing “a $3,495 silk pleated dress and $110,000 diamond earrings” (one of many “tone-deaf” displays of wealth in a down economy), or her habit of talking about the president as a “brand” to be marketed. What actually brought Rogers down, according to the New York Times, is the “corrosive politics of Washington,” which unfairly require that people installed in positions of power be good at their jobs and not embarrass their bosses with such frequency that David Axelrod has to take a break from combing his mustache toupe to scold you and the First Lady has to personally ask you to not attend events that make “real America” feel broke and poorly dressed.

4.) Much to his relief, Court rules God’s name can stay in pledge — The 9th Circuit panel ruled Thursday that the phrases “In God We Trust” and “one nation under God” are “ceremonial and patriotic” and have “nothing whatsover to do with the establishment of religion,” the AP reports. Incidentally, the same court ruled in 2002 that “the Pledge of Allegiance violated the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion,” when parent Michael Newdow sought to exempt his daughter from having to say the pledge at school. Newdow, founder of the First Atheist Church of True Science, is really disappointed by the court’s latest ruling. Really disappointed.

5.) Sean Penn doesn’t want to talk about rectal cancer anymore — “A Yeas & Nays reporter was publicly berated and threatened to be escorted out by police on Thursday night when the reporter asked actor Sean Penn a controversial question about his humanitarian work in Haiti,” reports the Washington Examiner. Reporter Tara Palmeri was attending an event hosted by Penn at the Washington Hebrew Congregation during which each media person in attendance was allowed to ask Penn one question about his relief work in Haiti. Palmeri asked Penn about his recent remark that his critics should die of rectal cancer, at which point, Penn had Palmeri ejected from the event. Afterward, Penn’s publicity team harangued Palmeri, threatened her job, tried to have her voice recorder confiscated, and insisted she be escorted out of the building by police.

6.) In bizarre role reversal, China makes great point about U.S. — After the U.S. issued its annual report on human rights abuses in China (says report: still happening), China responded by calling out the U.S. for the way it treats its own citizens, the AP reports. “The Chinese response touched on America’s gun crime and prison population and alleged rising problems with crime, poverty, homelessness and ‘chronic’ racial discrimination. It called U.S. college campuses unsafe and said spying on U.S. citizens by their government had reached unprecedented levels.” While Chinese officials didn’t elaborate on their criticism of college campuses, it is probably safe to assume that they were referring to the growing prevalence of KY Jelly wrestling matches.