• More than 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, the most since World War II ended in 1945. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.2 percent. [CNN]
• Steve Rattner may be Barack Obama's car czar, assuming several potential conflicts of interests are sorted out. [ABC, NYP]
• Hedge funds lost 18.3 percent on average in 2008 [DB]
• Merrill Lynch exec Gregory Fleming is headed off to teach at Yale. [DB]
• Dick Parsons says he has no plans to become Commerce Secretary. [DB]
• Sometimes there is justice in this world: Marc Rich was a victim of Bernie Madoff, too, and lost $10-15 million as part of the scheme. [BN]
• Bernie Madoff's home in the south of France is actually fairly modest. [BN]
Guess who the new Attorney General will be? Eric Holder! He was an assistant AG back in—wait for it—the Clinton Administration! Yay, change! Hah, see, this is what happens when you only had an eight year vacation from your 40 years of desert wandering. Holder will help close Guantanamo Bay. Thankfully, Holder has a lot of experience freeing evil criminals, because he totally signed off on the Marc Rich pardon! Let's all take a magical trip back to that wonderful story, shall we? Marc Rich founded Glencore, a commodities supplier that does lots of business with "rogue states" and so on, back in the wild 1970s. Rich was a fantastically wealthy commodities trader and decided one day to evade some taxes and also to do some illegal business with Iran, during the oil crisis. He bought some cheap oil, from Iran, and sold it in the US for double the price. Some of this oil dealing happened while Iran was holding a couple Americans hostage. Whoops! Then Rudy Giuliani indicted him and Marc forgot to come back to America from Switzerland and he ended up on the Most Wanted List for a while. Some time later, Marc's lovely wife Denise donated millions of dollars to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, and she ponied up $450k for the Clinton library. One day, as his presidency ended, Bill pardoned Marc. Denise was thrilled! Some mean Republicans wanted to indict Bill, because honestly they'd just had a lot of fun hounding him for bullshit and were sad to see that wonderful time come to a close. But, you know, the president can pretty much pardon anyone he wants for any reason he wants. Pardoning an asshole millionaire because his socialite wife gave you money is probably more defensible than pardoning Nixon so the nation can heal or whatever. Still, it was gross and dumb, because no one liked Marc Rich besides his wife and some Israeli charities he donated to and the King of Spain. Not even his old lawyer, noted asshole Scooter Libby, actually liked him that much, though he defended the tax evasion, which was, oddly, the thing Bill didn't pardon him for. Anyway! Bill didn't seriously ask anyone in his Justice Department about whether or not he should pardon Marc Rich, but he did ask then-deputy AG Holder for his opinion, and Holder said he was "neutral, leaning towards favorable." So it's all his fault and he will be the worst Attorney General ever, as long as you pretend not to notice that the last three guys to do it have probably been the worst in history, or at least since Ed Meese. The Clinton scandals were fun because no one actually got hurt or was tortured and most American cities survived more or less intact.