578. Make people laugh. - 578. Make people laugh.
1 week ago
"Here's what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you'd expect he would be. He wouldn't come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn't want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn't show up to that. He came in and played "The Times They Are A-Changin'." A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I'm sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat"
Obama in Command - Rolling Stone
"A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.via DeusEx
Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about."
Tea & Crackers - Matt Taibbi - Rolling Stone
"Savers should stop complaining about poor returns and start spending to help the economy, a senior Bank of England official warned." Savers told to stop moaning and start spending - Telegraph
"WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – With just a month remaining until the crucial midterm elections, worried Democrats have decided to reach out to the man who played Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, Democratic Party officials confirmed today.
“We were sitting around thinking of who we could put out there on the campaign trail to get people energized again,” said party chairman Tim Kaine. “And then I was like, what about that guy who played Obama in ’08? He was amazing!”
While Democratic incumbents have been shying away from appearing with President Obama at rallies in recent weeks, they are “totally jazzed” about making joint appearances with the man who portrayed Obama in 2008, Kaine said.
“When we put the word out that we were reaching out to the guy who used to play Obama, the reaction was phenomenal,” he said. “People were like, I loved that guy.”
Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold echoed the sentiment of many Democratic officeholders when he heard that the man who played Obama during the 2008 race might be hitting the road again soon: “I was leery about appearing with the President onstage, but that other guy, come on, he was unbelievable.”
According to preliminary plans, the guy who played Obama in 2008 would be used to fire up huge crowds in key races, while the actual President Obama would remain behind in Washington giving boring speeches about electronic medical records.
Fox News offered scant coverage of the Democrats’ plans, other than to report that neither President Obama nor the man who played him in 2008 was born in the US."
"This is infuriating, I warn you: Watch in horror as Anderson Cooper takes this Islamaphobic hillbilly—her name is Renee Ellmers and she is running for Congress on the Republican ticket in North Carolina—to task over her incendiary political ad. At about 4:45 seconds in he just can’t take it anymore. It gets more painful from there.
learly, Renee Ellmers doesn’t know anything about.. anything as she cheerfully admits over and over and over again. Like Michele Bachmann, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Ted Miller and Sharron Angle, this woman takes SMUG PRIDE IN HER OWN IGNORANCE. The Republicans in NC’s District 2 could not find anyone—not one single person with an IQ higher than a bag of wet hair—to run instead of this ignoramus? Obviously not!" via Dangerous Minds
"Fully two-thirds of the income gains in the last economic expansion (2001-2007) flowed to just the top 1 percent. This is not a healthy sign for a society. As Professor Thaler urges, we need to decide whether we want to promote still-greater inequality (by extending the high-income tax cuts) or lean against this trend. Each year the average millionaire gets about $125,000 from the Bush tax cuts, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center."
Enough Is Enough on Tax Cuts for Wealthy - Off the Charts Blog
"If you want to know why people are so angry, you're looking at a big part of the reason."
via "The Great Income Shift" - Economist's View
"If you ever wondered what really went on in the heads of the people you are used to goggling at on telly, you needed wonder no longer: now, thanks to the wonder of Twitter, we would be able to SEE DIRECTLY INTO THEIR BRAINS.
It seems to work; at least for celebrities who write their own tweets. You discover that Simon Pegg is funny and nice, Graham Linehan intelligent and politically conscious, William Gibson geeky and sociable, Amy Winehouse a bit erratic, and 50 Cent . . . well, you discover that 50 Cent is an absolutely epic plonker.
A very useful supplementary feed – @English50Cent – interprets his sayings for those less with it. For instance, when Fiddy found himself having an online scrap with some pre-teen Justin Bieber fans, he tweeted: "I'm a take my belt off and beat one of you little motherfuckers were your mama and daddy at anyway bad ass kids." @English50Cent translated: "I am going to remove my trousers and attack some children."
This is all glorious in a horrifying sort of way. But is this 50 Cent making his own myth or undermining it? From time to time you can tell – or imagine you can – that a member of Fiddy's entourage has risked life and limb to physically wrest the iPhone from the boss's grip and started tweeting on his behalf."
Twitter has allowed us to see directly into the brain of 50 Cent. And it's not pretty - Guardian
More than a generation of Americans have been urged to save the Earth. After surveying the current climate and every H.G. Wells-inspired geoengineering project, ANTHONY DOERR says it’s time to pray for Homo sapiens.
Here’s a metaphor: We’re in a car. The road is foggy and we’re cruising along at a good clip. A few signs on the shoulder warn there’s a cliff ahead, but the radio is on, we have places to be, and it’s not entirely clear who put up those signs anyway.
Some of us might slow down. A few might stop. One or two of us might put the kids in the backseat to work sewing parachutes.
But most of us keep going. Ultimately, we figure either:
The cliff isn’t really there
The cliff won’t be nearly as big as those signs make it look
The cliff is so far away, our kids will be driving by the time we get there
We’ll manage to skid to a stop right at the edge, or
Shit, we’ll sail right off and hope our kids are virtuosos with parachute silk."
"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker scrapped a prepared speech he had planned to deliver at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on Thursday, and instead delivered a blistering, off-the-cuff critique leveled at nearly every corner of the financial system.
“This is a plea for structural changes in markets and market regulation,” he said at one point.
Here are his views on a variety of topics.
1) Macroprudential regulation — “somehow those words grate on my ears.”
2) Banking — Investment banks became “trading machines instead of investment banks [leading to] encroachment on the territory of commercial banks, and commercial banks encroached on the territory of others in a way that couldn’t easily be managed by the old supervisory system.”
3) Financial system — “The financial system is broken. We can use that term in late 2008, and I think it’s fair to still use the term unfortunately. We know that parts of it are absolutely broken, like the mortgage market which only happens to be the most important part of our capital markets [and has] become a subsidiary of the U.S. government.”
4) Business schools — “We had all our best business schools in the United States pouring out financial engineers, every smart young mathematician and physicist said ‘I don’t want to be a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer. I’m a smart guy, I want to go to Wall Street.’ And then you know all the risks were going to be sliced and diced and [people thought] the market would be resilient and not face any crises. We took care of all that stuff, and I think that was the general philosophy that markets are efficient and self correcting and we don’t have to worry about them too much.
5) Central banks and the Fed — “Central banks became…maybe a little too infatuated with their own skills and authority because they found secrets to price stability…I think its fair to say there was a certain neglect of supervisory responsibilities, certainly not confined to the Federal Reserve, but including the Federal Reserve, I only say that because the Federal Reserve is the most important in my view.”
6) The recession — “It’s so difficult to get out of this recession because of the basic disequilibrium in the real economy.”
7) Council of regulators — “Potentially cumbersome.”
8) On judgment — “Let me suggest to you that relying on judgment all the time makes for a very heavy burden whether you are regulating an individual institution or whether you are regulating the whole market or whether you are deciding what might be disturbing or what might not be disturbing. It’s pretty tough and it’s subject to all kinds of political and institutional blockages as well.”
9) On procyclicality — “It’s the hardest thing as a regulator in my opinion…when things are really going well, the economy is going well, the market is not disturbed, but you see developments in an institution or in markets that is potentially destabilizing, doing something about it is extremely difficult. Because the answer of the people in the markets is, ‘what are you talking about? Things are going really well. We know more about banking and finance than you do, get out of my hair, if you don’t get out of my hair I’m going to write my congressman.’”
10) Risk management — “Markets that are prone to excesses in one direction or another are not simply managed under the assumption that we can assume that everybody follows a normal distribution curve. Normal distribution curves — if I would submit to you — do not exist in financial markets. Its not that they are fat tails, they don’t exist. I keep hearing about fat tails, and Jesus, it’s only supposed to occur every 100 years, and it appears every 10 years.”
11) Derivatives — “I’ve heard so many stories about how important” derivatives are but “there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the creation of derivatives has far exceeded any pressing need for hedging.”
12) Money market funds — “Money market funds have encroached so much on the banking market. They are nothing, in my view, but a regulatory arbitrage. The purpose that they serve in handling payments and short term paper is a commercial banking function” but they don’t hold the capital or face the regulation of banks.
13) The Fed and Dodd-Frank — Volcker said it was a “miracle” that despite all the criticism aimed at the Fed the central bank “came out with enhanced regulatory authorities rather than reduced regulatory authorities.”"
Volcker Spares No One in Broad Critique - WSJ
ABC's weekly poll of about 1,000 random people shows nothing at all good for the economy, which, oh yes, is now out of the recession, but not the depression. And for technicians out there, the reading of 46 dropped just below the 52 week average of -45.98. Joking aside, the report found that: "This week 89 percent of Americans rate the economy negatively, 75 percent say it’s a bad time to spend money and 55 percent rate their own finances negatively."
If the recession’s over, maybe no one told the economy - ZH
"As Pope Force One taxied towards us, there was one issue still revolving in my mind at the speed of a Rolls-Royce fan jet. Should the Popemobile be liable for the congestion charge and, if not, why not? Should the Holy Father have to pay £8 to drive through Westminster, like everyone else? Or should that fee be waived, in recognition of his status as the vicar of Christ on Earth?"
Pope's visit: Blimey. What to say to the Pope? A good joke ought to clinch it.
"A couple of months ago, I gave my girlfriend some fancy lingerie, and she actually got mad at me. She said, 'Anthony, I think this is more of a gift for you than it is for me.' And I said, 'If you want to get technical, it was originally a gift for my last girlfriend.'" Anthony Jeselnik
"What's up with all these guys killing their wives now? Like, every couple of weeks in the news, you see that sh*t -- guys killing their wives. I don't understand it. First of all, why would you kill another person, and second of all, don't they think the whole thing through? Like, how the whole thing's gonna play out? Like, 'I'm gonna kill my wife, then I'm gonna get caught, then I'm gonna go to jail, then I'm gonna get f**ked in the ass.'" Bill Burr
"Have you ever been drunk in the middle of the day? And I don't mean a couple of cocktails with lunch -- I mean like severely messed up. It's weird because you can't even properly relate to people anymore. I was like, 'What do you mean I can't get an Egg McMuffin? What -- because it's after 11? That's ridiculous.' He's like, 'No, sir, because this is a bank.'" Dave Nystrom
"I want you to consider this -- right now, all across the country, special interests are planning and running millions of dollars of attack ads against Democratic candidates. Because last year, there was a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United. They're allowed to spend as much as they want without ever revealing who's paying for the ads. That's exactly what they're doing. Millions of dollars. And the groups are benign-sounding: Americans for Prosperity. Who's against that? Or Committee for Truth in Politics. Or Americans for Apple Pie. Moms for Motherhood. I made those last two up.
"None of them will disclose who's paying for these ads. You don't know if it's a Wall Street bank. You don't know if it's a big oil company. You don't know if it's an insurance company. You don't even know if it's a foreign-controlled entity. In some races, they are spending more money than the candidates.... They're spending more money than the parties.
"They want to take Congress back and return to the days where lobbyists wrote the laws. It is the most insidious power grab since the monopolies of the Gilded Age. That's happening right now. So there's a lot of talk about populist anger and grassroots. But that's not what's driving a lot of these elections.
"We tried to fix this, but the leaders of the other party wouldn't even allow it to come up for a vote. They want to keep the public in the dark. They want to serve the special interests that served them so well over the last 19 months.
"We will not let them. We are not about to allow a corporate takeover of our democracy."
Remarks by the President at a Reception for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal via Bob Cesca
"A brief but fierce storm roared through New York City on Thursday evening, throwing down trees like sticks, crippling debris-strewn neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, disrupting commuter rail service and killing at least one person.
The storm and its aftereffects bore many of the hallmarks of a tornado, with the tops of countless trees sheared off and roofs blown off houses, but National Weather Service officials were still analyzing data to determine whether it should be classified as one."
New York City Battered by Fierce Storm - NYT
"Christine O'Donnell is a sideshow freak.
Seriously now, she was a crackpot when she rose on primary morning, and she's a crackpot now, and she will be a crackpot whether she wins or loses in November. She no more belongs in the Senate of the United States today than she did the day she was born. That 30,000-odd primates in Delaware thinks she belongs there is their problem. If enough people in Delaware come to think so, then she becomes our problem.
O'Donnell is a creature of an age in which politics have no meaning beyond performance art. She is the Creature from the Green Room, with no apparent public career beyond being available whenever some teenage booker from the cable shows needed someone to say something reliably stupid. She is one of those people who'd show up at CNN with a waterbowl in her teeth if someone there blew a dog whistle.
Her résumé is so thin as to be opaque, and a lot of it seems to be a lie. She seems to be something of a deadbeat, and "U.S. Senator" seems to be her idea of an entry-level position. This morning, she stands one step away from the job.
She is what politics produces when you divorce politics from government. She is what you get when you sell to the country that nothing government can do will help, and that the government is an alien thing, and that politics is nothing more than the active public display of impotent grievance.
She is what politics produces when you turn it into a game show and the coverage of it over to a generation of high-technology racetrack touts. She is what you get when political journalism reduces politics to numbers on a scoreboard, divorcing it from the real-world consequences of what are increasingly seen as cute little eccentric decisions.
She is what politics produces when we abandon self-government for self-gratification. And that's the real obvious irony in her victory on Tuesday night, and the only thing about it that truly matters. Christine O'Donnell's campaign is a successful exercise in angry, misfit masturbation, with as little to do with the deadly problems this country faces as some guy wanking in the balcony of a grindhouse has to do with Romeo and Juliet."
Can We Calm Down About Delaware's Tea Party Already? - Esquire
"CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, Concerned Women for America: Well, as the senator from Tennessee mentioned, evolution is a theory and it's exactly that. There is not enough evidence, consistent evidence to make it as fact, and I say that because for theory to become a fact, it needs to consistently have the same results after it goes through a series of tests. The tests that they put — that they use to support evolution do not have consistent results. Now too many people are blindly accepting evolution as fact. But when you get down to the hard evidence, it's merely a theory. But creation —"
"CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Now, he said that it's based on fact. I just want to point out a couple things. First of all, they use carbon dating, as an example, to prove that something was millions of years old. Well, we have the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens and the carbon dating test that they used then would have to then prove that these were hundreds of millions of years younger, when what happened was they had the exact same results on the fossils and canyons that they did the tests on that were supposedly 100 millions of years old. And it's the kind of inconsistent tests like this that they're basing their 'facts' on. "
"CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that."
GOP’s Delaware Senate Nominee Christine O'Donnell Not a Big Fan of Evolution - NY
"My goal this year is to buy a Prius so I can be the anti-Prius driver. Be like, 'Yeah, that's my Prius, the one with the gun rack and the McCain sticker on the back and the dead deer carcass roped to the hood.' Wouldn't that be sweet? Driving around in a Prius, throwing garbage out your window? 'It's a Prius; I already helped the Earth, hippie!'" Mo Mandel
""If one parent is shortsighted then you have a significantly increased risk of being shortsighted, and if you have two shortsighted parents, then you have an even greater risk.
In about 10 years, shortsightedness could be cured through eye drops, says Dr Chris Hammond, who led the research at King's College London.
Short sight comes about because the eye ball grows too big and fails to focus light properly. Most children are born long sighted (they can see distant objects but not ones that close by) but the eye continues to grow until it reaches the correct size. In children or young adults that develop short sight, the eye ball keeps growing."
Could glasses soon be history? - BBC Magazine
A would-be Koran-burner in Amarillo, Texas was foiled by a 23-year-old Texas skateboarder named Jacob Isom, who was among a group of people protesting a planned burning on Saturday. As Isom described it: “I snuck up behind him and took his Koran, he said something about burning the Koran, I said ‘Dude you have no Koran,’ and ran off.”
"Rents at the International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong’s tallest building, may rise 20 percent to 30 percent over the next two years, outpacing growth in areas outside the Central district, according to property brokers.
Rents in prime office buildings in Central, which includes International Financial Center and Cheung Kong Centre, were up 25 percent in August from a year earlier to HK$141.2 a square foot, London-based Knight Frank said in a report this week. Rents in some parts of the district were pushed to more than HK$200 per square foot in the third quarter of 2008, before declining as companies downsized following the credit crisis.
Over the last year, landlords in Hong Kong have been raising rents as companies resumed expansion in the city amid an economic recovery.
Hong Kong’s Central commands the world’s second-highest office space occupancy cost, behind London’s West End, CB Richard Ellis said in a May report. Tokyo is third while Mumbai ranks fourth, the report said."
Rents in Hong Kong's Tallest Tower ICC Set to Rise 30% in Next Two Years - Bloomberg
"The Charity Day was originally conceived by Cantor Fitzgerald to honour employees lost in the World Trade Centre attacks back in 2001.
In 2005, following its separation from Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC Partners established its own Charity Day donating all revenues on the day to a variety of other worthwhile charitable causes worldwide.
In 2009, the firm raised over $10 million for charity globally through its Annual Charity Day, bringing the total raised over five years to more than $33 million."
"The closest she has come is an interview with Glenn Beck on Fox News, when the former governor said she would be happy to go back to Wasilla, to Alaska and her family, but if she believed she could serve this great nation, she would be willing to sacrifice her lifestyle in order to serve it. The woman who thrives on her role as an outsider has in other words discovered the power of celebrity and is unlikely to give it up for friends and family just yet."
"This leaves the GOP establishment with uneasy choices. They hate the Tea Party movement with almost as much intensity as the Democrats do. They know that even after Barack Obama and the Democrats receive a major drubbing at the November midterms, a straightforward contest between Obama and Palin in 2012 would guarantee the incumbent a second term. Which is why Palin is frequently reminded of her Palinisms, by people like the California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who tweeted when he flew over Alaska en route to Asia that he was looking everywhere but could not see Russia from there. Palin tweeted back that, had he landed, she could have explained to him her state's multibillion dollar surplus. No love lost there. But they know that Palin is unfinished business and the only energy coming into Republican politics, or indeed any politics at all, is at the moment coming from her supporters. The GOP may yet find itself tacking hard to the right to subsume the Tea Party phenomenon."
Sarah Palin and the Tea Party - running wild? - Guardian
"Nine years after the attack on the World Trade Center the mood of the country has transformed dramatically.
The country went to war with a moral fervor, which quickly dissipated. There was no follow through, as bin Laden was allowed to escape. The appearance of unity in the country was wiped away with the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses. Americans became more cynical after 9/11. Instead of addressing the visible financial catastrophe set in motion by political promises made decades ago, Americans deluded themselves with visions of faux wealth created by the Federal Reserve inflating the largest bubble in history. President Bush did not demand shared sacrifice after 9/11. He instructed the American people to defeat the terrorists by leasing a Mercedes SUV; buying a 6,000 sq ft McMansion with 10 rooms, granite countertops, Jacuzzis, and a home theater, financed with 0% down; and taking your ultimate dream vacation in the Caribbean paid for with one of your 10 credit cards.
While Americans binged on credit and ignored the disastrous future that awaited them with the approaching Fourth Turning, a brooding pessimism began to blanket the country. A national paralysis overtook the populace regarding vital issues. The popping of the housing bubble from 2006 through 2008 revealed massive fraud on the part of Wall Street bankers; corrupt politicians, bought off by corporations, in Washington DC; inept bungling regulators; millions of morons wanting to be led astray; and a Federal Reserve that provided the cheap credit to fuel the mass delusion. The complete meltdown of the financial system in September 2008 will be viewed as the catalyst for the current Fourth Turning. The transition from Unraveling to Crisis has transpired.
The current Crisis is deepening day by day. The ninth anniversary of 9/11 is revealing the dramatic mood change of the country. In the days following 9/11 there was little anger against the religion of Islam. President Bush went to a mosque and declared that Islam was a religion of peace. He said forcefully that anyone who attacked Arab or Muslim Americans in some kind of twisted attempt at revenge for 9/11 would be met with the full force of American law. Most right minded Americans agreed with President Bush. After 9 years of waging wars against Muslims, in which victory is unachievable, Americans are weary, agitated and ready to lash out.
Contrast the reaction of Americans after 9/11 with the recent issue of converting a Burlington Coat factory store into a Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero. The mainstream media has been full of vitriol and anger regarding an issue that would have gotten no press in 2002. There have been protests, counter-protests, accusations and lies spread across the airwaves. The anti-Muslim feeling in the country is palpable. A nut-job pastor with a flock of 50 people threatens to burn the Koran and sets off a firestorm across the globe. The reaction to this inconsequential knucklehead would have been non-existent in 2002. The mood of the country has clearly changed. The anger building against the ruling elite on Wall Street and in Washington DC is real. Average Americans feel betrayed by politicians, bankers and corporate America. The Tea party movement is a reflection of that anger. The country certainly hasn’t reached a consensus about which direction the country needs to move, but we are still in the early stages of the Fourth Turning.
Fourth Turnings always sweep away the old order and replace it with a new order. There is no guarantee that the new order will be better. It could be far worse. As we honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 we need to brace ourselves for the storm ahead. The clouds are gathering and the time of great sacrifice is approaching. There are no guarantees from God that the United States will always prevail. We have gone far off course this time. I trust we can rise to the challenge."
9/11 A Fourth Turning Perspective - The Burning Platform
"Volumes in stocks will not and should not pick up until we deal with it, it's time to wake smell the coffee and address a problem that everybody recognizes. People don't invest because they know the system is broken and they want nothing to do with it in its current state, as made obvious by the outflow out of equity funds. Sadly bond funds may not really save them when the bill comes due. Forget for a second that we have exported job overseas, automated manual labor, and doubled the workforce by including women (I am not talking negatively of any of these, just observing effect on labor supply) thereby devaluating labor, that this was only possible because we borrowed our growth and have now a broken world economy with producers with no demand and over-borrowed consumers who can't buy in countries that don't produce... We are still left with massive fiscal gaps.
You want change? Well how about the truth for a change: we are bankrupt, your investments are in their totality worth 35 cents on the dollar including your house, you need to move in with your parents because we are slashing their pension payments and you can't afford a home. Now start from scratch! To me it sounds better than 4-day school weeks in Oregon where we are not educating the future generation so they can be even angrier and counter-productive revolutionary protesters when they grow up."
No Volume? Don't Shut The Algos Just Yet - ZeroHedge
The US constitution cannot stop Pastor Terry Jones from burning 100 Korans to mark the 9th anniversary of 11 September - the right to free speech is absolute when within the law. But free speech comes with responsibilities. Just as it is unwise to build with provocative intent a mosque near the site of Ground Zero, so too for a Christian minister to burn the Koran as a publicity stunt. Such mindlessness further endangers US and Allied troops abroad and the population at home by inciting contemptible extremists.
Common sense and the tenets of Christian faith aside, Jones should desist and be tolerant. The war against Islamism must not become a war against Islam; not least because the forces of moderation could not win such a war. Islam, for all its faults, can, and often is, on the side of moderation.
The war on terror is a battle of ideas between an enlightened mindset and one that is intent on darkness. In addition to neutralising terrorism in the field, the anti-Islamists must win an intellectual argument to promote tolerance and freedom above bigotry and fear – that is what free speech is for. Burning a book is not an argument."
Burning the Koran - Spectator
“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual war,” Madison concluded.
I do not minimize Al Qaeda’s intentions, which are barbaric. I question its capabilities. In every recent conflict, the United States has been right about the evil intentions of its adversaries but massively exaggerated their strength. In the 1980s, we thought the Soviet Union was expanding its power and influence when it was on the verge of economic and political bankruptcy. In the 1990s, we were certain that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear arsenal. In fact, his factories could barely make soap.
As a result, we overreacted.
What America Has Lost - Newsweek
"Halfway through college, and still drifting, I decided to become a high-powered tax lawyer. The plan was sailing along until I took my first course in tax law. I was stunned by its complexity and lunacy, and I barely passed the course.
Around the same time, I was involved in mock-trial classes. I enjoyed the courtroom. A new plan was hatched. I would return to my hometown, hang out my shingle and become a hotshot trial lawyer. Tax law was discarded overnight."
Boxers, Briefs and Books - John Grisham - NYT
"The current situation reminds me of mid 2007. Investors then were content to stick their heads into very deep sand and ignore the fact that The Great Unwind had clearly begun. But in August and September 2007, even though the wheels were clearly falling off the global economy, the S&P still managed to rally 15%! The recent reaction to data suggests the market is in a similar deluded state of mind. Yet again, equity investors refuse to accept they are now locked in a Vulcan death grip and are about to fall unconscious.
This is what happens when you boldly go, where no central banking policy has really gone before."
These are the voyages of the starship QE2 - FT Alphaville
"On who is to blame for the financial crisis:
“My number one concern is that there has been a complete utter total abdication of personal responsibility though out our entire society. I don’t think anyone anywhere is taking blame themselves for what they did to contribute to the crisis. And again I think it gets back to that blame game. It is the most damaging thing we can do as a country is to blame a narrow set and not look within ourselves for what each of us did or didn’t do to the basic wrong that led to this mess.”"
MICHAEL BURRY: THE HOUSING MARKET IS “ARTIFICIAL” - Pragmatic Capitalist
"Nothing Bernanke has ever said has turned out to be right. Please go back and look up his record and you will see. The man just doesn’t understand economics. He doesn’t understand finance. He doesn’t understand currencies. All he understands is printing money. This is not going to work."
"Fox News entertainer, former drug addict, and professional weeper Glenn Beck took center stage at the Lincoln Memorial exactly forty-seven years to the day after Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech for a rally dedicated to "restoring honor," which is tea party code for the otherwise unutterable idea: get that nigger out of the White House! (despite the attendance of a few African-American shills on the scene).
Eighty-seven thousand disoriented citizens lined the DC Mall reflecting pool and adjoining lawns to witness Beck overstep his role as a television clown and don the mantle of an evangelist-savior battling the dark forces working insidiously to put the America of WalMart, Walt Disney World, Nascar, and Burger King into the Collapsed Society Hall of Fame -- where it's heading anyway, due to the bad choices these self-same citizens made during an extraordinary bonanza era of cheap oil that is now drawing to a close whether anyone likes it or not. Naturally, Beck invoked prayer against this prospect, which is what people resort to when they don't understand what is happening to them.
My own guess is that Obama's been informed that the system is so fragile that if he dares to disturb even one teensy-weensy part of it -- for instance, by throwing some executives from Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, et cetera, into federal prison -- that said system will fly to pieces in a fortnight. So his main task for a year and a half has been to desperately apply baling wire and duct tape to the banking system while telling fibs to the public about a wished-for recovery to a prior state. Unfortunately that prior state is the ecstasy of a self-swindle.
This is what allows a faker like Glenn Beck to shine. The masses still truly believe that prayer will save them from bankruptcy, foreclosure, penury, the loss of status, and the cut-off of precious air-conditioning.
Glenn Beck's sidekick nowadays, Sarah Palin, is exactly the kind of corn pone Hitler that America deserves: a badly-educated, child-like, war-mongering opportunist easily manipulated by backstage extremist billionaires who think they don't have enough money yet. Sarah Palin is going to run for president in 2012. In the process she'll turn the sad remnants of the Republican party into a suicide cult, but she might just get elected and you can kiss the 230-year-long experiment in representative government goodbye for good.
In the meantime, the financial markets are getting ready to puke, the housing market has yet a million frauds left to unwind, the commercial real estate and retail sectors are crashing, and the season leading into the holidays is taking shape as a major amplification of all the converging clusterfucks that make these such interesting times. The tea-bagger faction will only get more desperately crazy as a result.
The bigger mystery in all this -- if I may perhaps engage in some nostalgia of my own -- is: what happened to reasonable, rational, educated people of purpose in this country to drive them into such burrow of cowardice that they can't speak the truth, or act decisively, or even defend themselves against such a host of vicious morons in a time of troubles?"
One Lump or Two - CFN
"ANOTHER weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the “ground zero mosque.” This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to “reclaim the civil rights movement” (Beck’s words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.
Vive la révolution!
There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it.
Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant.
The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests. And surely Murdoch is snickering at those protesting the “ground zero mosque.” Last week on Fox attacked a supposedly terrorism-tainted Saudi prince whose foundation might contribute to the Islamic center. But as “The Daily Show” keeps pointing out, they’re bashing, Walid bin Talal, who is the biggest non-Murdoch shareholder in Fox News’s parent company (he owns 7 percent of News Corporation) and the recipient of Murdoch mammoth investments in Saudi Arabia.
When wolves of Murdoch’s ingenuity and the Kochs’ stealth have been at the door of our democracy in the past, Democrats have fought back fiercely. Franklin Roosevelt’s triumphant 1936 re-election campaign pummeled the Liberty League as a Republican ally eager to “squeeze the worker dry in his old age and cast him like an orange rind into the refuse pail.” When John Kennedy’s patriotism was assailed by Birchers calling for impeachment, he gave a major speech denouncing their “crusades of suspicion.”
And Obama? So far, sadly, this question answers itself."
The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party - NYT
"The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.
Jim Felman, a defence lawyer in Tampa, Florida, says America is conducting “an experiment in imprisoning first-time non-violent offenders for periods of time previously reserved only for those who had killed someone”. One of Mr Felman’s clients, a fraudster called Sholam Weiss, was sentenced to 845 years. “I got it reduced to 835,” sighs Mr Felman. Faced with such penalties, he says, the incentive to co-operate, which means to say things that are helpful to the prosecution, is overwhelming. And this, he believes, “warps the truth-seeking function” of justice.
If a defence lawyer offers a witness money to testify that his client is innocent, that is bribery. But a prosecutor can legally offer something of far greater value—his freedom—to a witness who says the opposite.
Badly drafted laws create traps for the unwary. In 2006 Georgia Thompson, a civil servant in Wisconsin, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for depriving the public of “the intangible right of honest services”. Her crime was to award a contract (for travel services) to the best bidder. A firm called Adelman Travel scored the most points (on an official scale) for price and quality, so Ms Thompson picked it. She ignored a rule that required her to penalise Adelman for a slapdash presentation when bidding. For this act of common sense, she served four months. (An appeals court freed her.)
The “honest services” statute, if taken seriously, “would seemingly cover a salaried employee’s phoning in sick to go to a ball game,” fumes Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice.
“You’re (probably) a federal criminal,” declares Alex Kozinski, an appeals-court judge, in a provocative essay of that title. Making a false statement to a federal official is an offence. So is lying to someone who then repeats your lie to a federal official. Failing to prevent your employees from breaking regulations you have never heard of can be a crime."
Rough justice in America, Too many laws, too many prisoners - Economist