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Can you imagine what a craven, bumlicking ass-goblin you’d have to be to get a job working for the Wall Street Journal, not mention up front that you used to be a Goldman, Sachs managing director, and then write a lengthy article calling your former boss a “national hero”– in the middle of a sweeping financial crisis, one in which half the world is in a panic and the unemployment rate just hit a 25-year high? Behavior like this, you usually don’t see it outside prison trusties who spend their evenings shining the guards’ boots. I can’t even think of a political press secretary who would sink that low. Hank Paulson, a hero? Are you fucking kidding us? Exactly what part of Paulson’s record is heroic, Evan? The part where he called up SEC director William Donaldson in 2004 and quietly arranged to get the state to drop capital requirements for the country’s top five investment banks? You remember that business, right, Evan? Your hero Paulson met with Donaldson and got the rules changed so that Goldman and four other banks no longer had to abide by the old restrictions that forced banks to actually have a dollar or two on hand for every ten or so they lent out. After that, it was party time! Bear Stearns in just a few years had a debt-to-equity ration of 33-1! Lehman’s went to 32-1. By an amazing coincidence, both of these companies exploded just a few years after that meeting, and all of the rest of us, Evan, ended up footing the bill, thanks to a state-sponsored rescue of Bear and a much larger massive bailout of Wall Street in general, necessitated in large part by the damage caused by the chaos surrounding Lehman’s collapse. –“‘It’s time to enshrine Hank Paulson as national hero’… what the fuck?” by Matt Taibbi, The Smirking Chimp
Wealthy parents divesting from Williamsburg, Brooklyn; new “friendly” bank branding includes Redneck Bank, “where bankin’s funner”
President Barack Obama’s address at the Cairo University on June 4, 2009, which was billed in advance by his staff as a historic message of goodwill and reconciliation to the Islamic world, had a limited audience. Though projected as an address to the Islamic world, it was largely an address to the Arab world and focused largely on issues of interest to the Arabs. The Arabs constitute a minority in the Islamic world. Non-Arab Muslims living in countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia constitute the majority. The issues, which agitate them, are different from the issues which agitate the Arab world. Osama bin Laden understands this better than Obama and his advisers. That was why in his audio message released through Al Jazeera a day before Obama’s Cairo address, bin Laden focused on issues of immediate concern to the non-Arab Muslims in the Af-Pak region such as the large-scale displacement of Pashtuns from the tribal areas of Pakistan. By focusing on their plight and by holding the Americans responsible for it, he sought to make it certain that the anti-American anger in the Af-Pak region will increase rather than decrease. –“Limited Audience, Limited Impact,” B. Raman, Outlook India (via)
Xe (né Blackwater) sued for war crimes; Guantanamo inmate now detained within United States (via); Newt Gingrich defends plagiarism; Hastert’s son wants to inherit his father’s old seat; “did you know ultra-conservative talk radio guy Michael Savage has intimate family connections to Rockstar Energy Drink?” (via)
Another reason I could look with lightness at the couple kissing intimately was that I had written quite a few pages on these topics for my most recent novel, The Museum of Innocence. Millions of people who live outside the west– and especially those who, like me, live in Muslim countries– never get to see two lovers kissing on the lips in everyday life (of course, you do not necessarily have to be lovers to kiss on the lips). In the non-western world, kissing on the lips is an act performed either indoors in bedrooms or in films (with the exception of Brezhnev and Gromyko). Like hundreds of millions, or probably billions of my fellow world citizens, I saw kissing on the lips for the first time in my life at the cinema– during my childhood, there was no television in Turkey. I remember wondering to myself whether their noses would bump into each other when they kissed. Hitchcock shot the most beautiful, most memorable kissing scene in the history of cinema– not in Notorious, as many would think, but the train scene in North by Northwest. Here, kissing in the narrow compartment of the Chicago-bound train, Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint turn around on their own axis as they kiss, almost completing a full circle, perhaps to make the viewer feel what a vertiginous thing kissing is. But when I watched these films, these kissing scenes, and these couples whirling in front of the camera– perhaps because I still did not have a lover I could kiss– I complained of their affectedness. –“Author, author: Why do beautiful scenes inspire us to kiss?” by Orhan Pamuk, The Guardian (also via)
James Wood: “Would the journalists have laughed in the same way if novelists and not poets had been squabbling? I doubt it. For poetry has suffered a crucial shrinkage of respect…”; Jane Austen Today (via); F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last secretary remembers his last days, and The Last Tycoon: “you couldn’t be with him and not know how desperately he wanted to write another good book.”
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”