“I don’t want to be sanguine about it, but the silver lining to all the disruption that’s ahead of us is that it will enhance the credibility of any commitment that we make in the future to be willing to let an institution fail and to risk such disruption again.”—Jeffrey Lacker, the Richmond Fed chief, saying the move to let Lehman Brothers fail has enhanced the Fed’s credibility, Sept. 16, 2008—the same day they began the rescue of AIG.
“There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.”—I missed this line from Obama’s Mandela eulogy.
“The Affordable Care Act is not a “message” to be “sold”; it’s the law of the land, and NBC’s viewers need to understand it. That’s [Chuck] Todd’s job, and he’s clearly not interested in doing it.”—Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting’s Steve Rendall.
“The sad part isn’t so much that conference organizers failed to screen presenters, but that the would-be comedians behind Titstare read the room at the San Francisco Design Center and thought: I know what will make this crowd laugh. And they were right: Titstare got “very loud applause.””—It goes a lot deeper than just Pax Dickinson. From Why Pax Dickinson Matters by Nitasha Tiku.
“Well-placed sources have said that in private, when the possibility of Arsenal bidding for Robert Lewandowski has been raised this summer, Wenger tends to mention the time – unspecified – when he could have bought the Borussia Dortmund striker for £300,000. Like a man who regrets not buying an Islington townhouse in those long-distant days when you could pick one up for a song, it sounds like a pointless lament.”—I’ve followed Arsenal for years and this summer has been a mystery to me, but this—this—sounds like Arsène Wenger.
“You’re not reading about . . . the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused.”—
“The disjunction between textbook economics and the choices being made in Washington is larger than any I’ve seen in my lifetime… At a time of mass unemployment, it’s clear, the economics textbooks tell us, that this is not the right time for fiscal retrenchment… Given that rough consensus in an otherwise quarrelsome profession, to watch it be ignored like this is exasperating, horrifying, disheartening.”—Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
“Unacknowledged normative preferences, total identification with sources and no analysis of the asymmetric polarization that is one of the central features of contemporary American politics.”—Politico, everybody! (h/t @jayrosen_nyu)
“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”— Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices (via volumexii)
“Tumblr prides itself on being a home for brands, established and emerging, we at Yahoo are all about brands,” Mayer said on the call.
not to be too too too cynical but I know all the people I follow on Tumblr and all the people who follow me are united in one thing and one thing only: their ravenous enthusiasm for brands. “I came for the sense of a new community, one with a keen feel for the visual but with a passion for language, too,” they say, “but it’s the brands that keep me here. Sweet Christ I love brands. Let the mountains collapse into dust and the oceans all boil, but give me brands,” they cry in the night. I personally remember, as a child, pleading with my parents to let me interface with my favorite brands. And interface we did. With the brands. The glorious, glorious brands
“Often… a book of 300 pages would have been a lot better at 120 pages… I just was a judge for the National Book Awards in non-fiction and it was remarkable to me what huge percentage of those books would have been fabulous 120 - 200-page books and were kind of flabby 350-page books. Book length is a somewhat arbitrary size that we’ve gotten used to, and there’s nothing special about it. There’s no reason that a book needs to be 150,000 words except that the business model for what books need to cost to make it work for publishers is that people are willing to pay X dollars for a book of X size and less willing to pay that for a book that’s 120 pages.”—Susan Orlean.
“Hey, look at that superficially amusing ‘viral’ video created by a International Poison Corp. I will now spread it to my circle of friends via social media, thereby providing, for free, valuable word-of-mouth marketing and a ‘halo effect’ of youth and coolness that International Poison Corp. so craves, much like an ancient vampire craves a young virgin’s sweet lifeblood.”—
“If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95% of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”—
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by Politico, saying that demographics would be the only reason for a hypothetical Mitt Romney loss Tuesday.
“How is the money spent? [Mainly] an ever-increasing volume of negative, distorting and ideologically tinged advertising about opposing candidates and parties. Contrary to what many believe, the central effect of such negative advertising isn’t to move voters from supporting another candidate to backing yours, as Mitt Romney and his allies have discovered during this primary season. The main effect is not even to move undecided voters into your column. No, the real effect of negative advertising is to energize and solidify support among your ideological base while turning everyone else off to the other candidate, the campaign and the entire electoral process. Negative advertising isn’t about changing minds; it’s about altering the composition of the voter pool on Election Day by turning moderate voters into non-voters.”—
“You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.”—Banksy channels Fugazi. (via sirmitchell)
“Life is unfair. Republican venality unintentionally reinforces the conservative argument that government is corrupt. Democratic venality undermines the Democratic argument that Washington can be trusted to do good.”—
Unintentionally? Unintentionally? David Brooks should know better. He might start with this mea culpa by a congressional staffer who left the GOP after thirty years of service last year:
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
Also note how Brooks is characteristically guilty of the “centrist cop-out”. Attempting to avoid charges of partisan bias, he suggests that both sides are equally culpable for the problem he diagnoses, Americans’ lack of trust in government.
Update: One more thing. David Brooks is also guilty of what I’d like to provisionally name the fallacy of innocence. But of course our good congresspeople are acting with only the best of intentions. Politicians might act in bad faith in those other loser countries, those other ones way over there, but not our good congresspeople here in America. Any side benefit to Republican intransigence is purely coincidental and entirely unintentional.
“People who think of themselves as “good” did these things, which is mainly a sobering reminder of what we’re all capable of.”—
A chastening reminder of the humanity of the Penn State sexual abuse case from James Fallows.
It’s disquieting to think that good people (or at least people who think that they’re good) can harbour sex criminals or be racist. But we would all do well to reflect on this insight and step back from our own moral certitudes and self-confidence.
“What has happened over the past 30 years is the capture of the world’s common treasury by a handful of people, assisted by neoliberal policies which were first imposed on rich nations by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. I am now going to bombard you with figures. I’m sorry about that, but these numbers need to be tattooed on our minds. Between 1947 and 1979, productivity in the US rose by 119%, while the income of the bottom fifth of the population rose by 122%. But from 1979 to 2009, productivity rose by 80%, while the income of the bottom fifth fell by 4%. In roughly the same period, the income of the top 1% rose by 270%. George Monbiot, from his piece on our Comment Is Free site: ‘The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen’”—
“Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. (…) The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly…”—
“I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.”—
As a child, Bill Keller believed in the literal truth of the eucharist. So, he reasons, it would be unfair to judge grown-up politicians on their own religious convictions.
A few thoughts:
Does Keller genuinely not care if Mitt Romney believes (even privately) that eternal truths of divine provenance were engraved on gold tablets and buried for serial fraudster Joseph Smith to find?
If so, why not? If he grew out of religious belief himself, why doesn’t he hold politicians to the same intellectual standard?
To say that “every faith has its baggage” does not explain away the problems of religious faith. Secular humanism might avoid those pitfalls, but to Keller your view of the nature of the universe doesn’t matter so long as you have an economic plan.
Ask them the tough questions, Keller seems to be saying. Just don’t bother any further if the politicians promise that their religious beliefs are firewalled from the business of politics and government. After all, since when has anyone’s private beliefs ever influenced his or her behaviour in the public sphere?
Here’s the way you’ve got to think about it: the press doesn’t obsess over these gaffes despite the fact that they’re so innocuous, but rather because of that fact. They’re lazy and petrified of being seen as biased. Piling all over innocuous gaffes is the political press’ stock in trade.
“You wouldn’t be doing any of this if one of the objectives was not to increase the amount of pussy that was available to you. That is what you do. You don’t do it to be, ah, the most approval-rated governor of New York, for fuck’s sake.”—Christopher Hitchens’ take on Spitzergate suddenly seems relevant again. Thanks for that, Anthony Weiner. (via motherjones)
“The majority of political writers we know might […] be accused of centrist bias. That is, they believe broadly in government activism but are instinctually skeptical of anything that smacks of ideological zealotry and are quick to see the public interest as being distorted by excessive partisanship. Governance, in the Washington media’s ideal, should be a tidier and more rational process than it is […] The press’s bias for bipartisan process […] often transcends the substance of any bipartisan policy.”—
What’s most disturbing about this is the preference for civil, centrist process — as if those are virtues regardless of the policies they give rise to — over the merits of any particular policy on its own. As the last ten years have shown, this is a mindset particularly ill-equipped to deal with radicals inhabiting the political establishment: thusly is centrism shifted — see what happens when you don’t stand for anything in itself? — and thusly is bipartisan consensus perverted.
“Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.”—
Barack Obama, promising The Most Transparent Administration Ever™ in 2008.
WikiLeaks’ alleged source Bradley Manning is psychologically deteriorating as he endures solitary confinement for going on eight months.
In case there’s any doubt that Bradley Manning is a whistleblower (as opposed to a spy, for instance), here are his own words:
god knows what happens now - hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms - if not, than we’re doomed - as a species - i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens - the reaction to the [Apache helicopter] video gave me immense hope; CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded - people who saw, knew there was something wrong … - i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public… […] i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against… […] [the cables belong] in the public domain -information should be free - it belongs in the public domain - because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge - if its out in the open… it should be a public good.
“This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”—President Barack [Obama] at Cairo University : June 4th, 2009 (via soupsoup)
“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America only to take profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: ’ This is not just’. It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: ‘This is not just’. The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on progress of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”—
“What [Jay Rosen] sees as truth-in-advertising, I see as information that’s not only irrelevant but a distraction from the core truth that most reporters are so much more loyal to the role, the job and the story than to any party or ideology that it’s not even a contest. […] As a straight news reporter for 20 years before I ever wrote a word of opinion […] it’s beating the same old ideological drum every day that I would find stultifying. And that I am at heart a reporter is a much more central “truth” than anything a reader could learn from an exhaustive list of the opinions I am now free to share.”—
“The media — or at least the editorial boards at the country’s major newspapers — don’t suffer from liberal bias; they suffer from statism. While conservatives emphasize order and property, liberals emphasize equality, and libertarians emphasize individual rights, newspaper editorial boards are biased toward power and authority, automatically turning to politicians for solutions to every perceived problem.”—
“In recent weeks, NPR hosts, reporters and guests have incorrectly said or implied that WikiLeaks recently has disclosed or released roughly 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. Although the website has vowed to publish “251,287 leaked United States embassy cables,” as of Dec. 28, 2010, only 1,942 of the cables had been released.”—NPR issues a long-overdue correction — among others, Glenn Greenwald has been calling out this myth for three weeks now — setting the record straight on a falsehood that has been propagated by virtually every single mainstream media outlet. One awaits further corrections…
“Terrorism" […] to the extent it means anything, its definition is this: "those who impede or defy American will with any degree of efficacy.”—Glenn Greenwald defines what “terrorism” — a word so manipulated toward political ends that it’s practically impossible to use in honest discourse at this point — actually means for US government officials.