Scritti Politti: April 20, 2009

05/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Imagine you had invited me to your home for some sort of potluck dinner, and I had promised to bring a freshly baked pie, only to show up with a pie plate with only a single slice remaining. You wouldn't think much of my ability to fulfill my obligations, would you. Bet you'd be even more put off if I said something like, "Oh, well, you should have seen my pie, before I let everyone else eat it! It was really, really impressive." You'd probably be able to understand what BS that was.

Yet, even while attempting to explain the faulty underpinnings of the recent claims of good health from banks, reporters cannot help but include paragraphs like this one, from this weekend's Washington Post:

Despite these problems, Citigroup said yesterday it earned $1.6 billion in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $5.11 billion in the first quarter last year. The company paid out all its profits and then some to preferred shareholders, leaving a net quarterly loss of 18 cents per share. The overall profit still surprised financial analysts, who expected the company to lose money.

The overall profit still surprised financial analysts, who expected the company to lose money? What? CITIGROUP DID LOSE MONEY. What's more is that Citigroup had to have understood its obligations to preferred shareholders. That $1.6 billion is the promise of a pie that never made it to the table. And yet a "net quarterly loss of 18 cents a share" and gross earnings wiped out by paying out all its profits "and then some" is reported as a profit, that surprised financial analysts!

Maybe the story is that financial analysts aren't very smart!

Spitz Polish: Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici connects the dots on the Washington Post's cross-platform efforts to launder the karma of their recent hire, Eliot Spitzer.

A Metastasizing Sin: Andrew Sullivan warns:

And so Obama's refusal to investigate war crimes is itself against the law. And so torture's cancerous route through the legal and constitutional system continues, contaminating the future as well as the past, rendering the US incapable of upholding Geneva against other nations, because it has violated Geneva itself, and giving to every tyrant on the planet a justification for the torture of prisoners.

Better Have An Alternate Plan: Oh, my. Looks like one Washington gala is going to have a change made to its agenda.

Another Meme Bites The Dust: In case you were wondering if the Democrats plan to use the budget reconciliation process as a means to push through their agenda while circumventing the now regularly-used threat of a filibuster was some sort of terribly Satanic way to govern, uhm...yeah, it's not. So calm down.

Update Your RSS Feeds: Choire Sicha and Alex Balk have taken up a new post at The Awl. Be ye glad.

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