Find That Lede! The lede in this story is ...
1) A man who was until recently a top aide to Gov. David Paterson, who will pick the next N.Y. senator, is very close to the Kennedys !
2) A top aide to Gov. Paterson didn't pay his taxes for five years!**
3) But at least the Kennedys didn't give this top aide to Gov. Paterson thousands of dollars ! ... oh, wait !
As alert reader J emails: "What if Jesse Jackson Sr. and other relatives loaned money to Blago's ([until] very recently) top aide and now Jesse Jr. was trying to get Senate appointment? Wouldn't Patrick Fitzgerald be investigating?" ...
**--The aide resigned in late October , a few days after the story linked above. The initial version of this item erroneously suggested he still had his job. [4:34 P.M.] ... 4:20 P.M.
Obama in a manger ... and they say he's burdened himself with messianic expectations. ...[ But Carla Bruni is there too. And Silvio Berlusconi--ed Where's Greg Packer?] 4:03 P.M.
I'm not sure that we know all the details of the Bush-negotiated auto bailout deal, but it certainly looks as if it's pretty much the same arrangement Congress was considering a couple of weeks ago, with the same flaws. [See fourth item here .] Basically, next March, if the auto companies are fudging on the plans that will make them "viable," Obama will have a choice--either 1) kill them (by forcing a bankruptcy in which they have to actually pay back the government's $17 billion, which they will already have spent) or 2) acquiesce in whatever insufficient semi-sacrifice they've come up with. Do you really think he's going to pick Option 1? It's too nuclear to have any credibility. ... That leaves open the possibility that the deal will produce what the "stakeholders" want it to produce--a bailout by the taxpayers that at least temporarily lets them avoid giving up the things (like the UAW's 22-pound contract ) they'd have to give up in a normal bankruptcy proceeding.
Note how the NYT describes the "compromise" struck with the UAW:
[Senate] talks had deadlocked on a demand by Republicans that the wage cuts take effect by a set date in 2009, while the union had pressed for a deadline in 2011.
The plan announced on Friday offered a compromise between the positions, by making the requirements nonbinding and allowing the automakers to reach different arrangements with the union, provided that they explain how those alternative plans will keep them on a path toward financial viability. [E.A.]
That's one way to compromise between a 2009 deadline and a 2011 deadline--make all deadlines meaningless! I mean, "nonbinding." ... Or, rather, " targets ." ... The only hopeful sign that the deal actually has some bite came from the UAW, which complained of "unfair conditions singling out workers" that weren't included in Congress's ill-fated proposal. But the union "didn't say what those conditions were." ...
Update : Presumably the union is referring to the non-binding "targets" outlined here .
The agreement calls for union wages and so-called work rules identical to those offered to the U.S. workers of foreign-based auto makers such as Toyota Motor Corp. The UAW has argued that, in accepting a two-tier wage structure as part of last year's labor deal, its wages already are consistent with Toyota's. Work rules -- which govern vacation time, break time, job classifications and the conditions under which a company can bring non-union contract workers into plans for non-automotive work -- remain a discrepancy between Detroit's auto makers and their non-unionized rivals.
For internal and external political kabuki reasons, it's in the interest of UAW leaders to complain--it shows their members that they are fighting for them, it suggests to the public that they are reluctantly doing their part--which creates grounds for skepticism about the severity of the "conditions." ... 1:09 P.M.