Sunday Open Thread

What's going on in your world today? Here's an open thread to discuss whatever's on your mind.

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    Obama is frustrated (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by zyx on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 01:30:43 PM EST
    about the media bubble.

    Well, eat my socks. Who knew?

    I'm sorry for his daughters--this is one reason why I think he should have waited. Another is that I preferred Hillary Clinton. But I think he sacrificed his daughters' childhoods' for his own ambition.

    I suppose that the same could have been said for Bill Clinton and Chelsea, but I don't think that then we knew how definite this media thing IS. Now, there is no doubt about it.

    So--Obama is frustrated? I can't be too sympathetic--if he didn't know what he was getting into, then he's not very smart, after all.

    He Didn't Seem To MInd It (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by CDN Ctzn on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 03:28:41 PM EST
    during either the Primaries or the POTUS campaign. What's that saying, "When you dance with the Devil...?

    Tuna on 12 Grain - Shave Ice (none / 0) (#3)
    by SOS on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 01:55:59 PM EST
    The price of greatness is usually seclusion. Unless your President of the United States.

    He's going to have to swallow the criticism of the whole world. Like all people who get in a position where it's possible they might actually be able to do great things.


    Obama frustrated by media? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Spamlet on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 06:27:52 PM EST
    Guess he's used to being coddled by the media, as he was throughout the primaries and the general election.

    I'm LMAO. Laura Bush says Dubya's presidency (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Angel on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 02:18:38 PM EST
    isn't a failure!  Says "history will judge."  Yep, hate to break it to you Laura, but history will judge his presidency, and by all standards and accounts he is/will be the WORST. PRESIDENT. EVAH.  

    Good riddance, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    More lolz, this time from Condi (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Plutonium Page on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 02:28:39 PM EST

    Q: Looking at the big picture of what's the whole foreign policy of this Administration - you come out of the academic tradition so I think it's fair to ask, what kind of grade do you give yourself and this Administration on foreign policy?

    RICE: Oh, I don't know. It depends on the subject. I'm sure that there are some that deserve an A-plus and some that deserve a lot less. ... We've left a lot of good foundations.

    Just Think of It (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by CDN Ctzn on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 06:03:23 PM EST
    The Cowboys AND the Patriots both being eliminated from the playoffs on the same afternoon!

    Completely Relaxed (none / 0) (#2)
    by SOS on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 01:52:48 PM EST
    Casting out any negative "thoughts", impulses, urges, desires, etc, etc.

    A do nothing day. Feels great.

    I'm going to Miami (none / 0) (#4)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 02:09:33 PM EST
    in a few weeks...does anyone have any recommendations in terms of restaurants, attractions, places to stay (cheap!), things to look for/look out for, etc.?  Or just some fun stories.

    I have never been there before and will be spending 4 nights.

    Doing a little baking, in anticipation of (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 02:27:11 PM EST
    relatives coming to town this week.

    This time around, I'm trying to do a Dresdner Stollen.  The darn thing is taking for frickin' ever to raise, though.

    A good place to use up the candied orange peel and such from other baking.

    While it's raising (second time) I think I'll take the dog for a walk.

    I'm probably going to Miami too (none / 0) (#8)
    by Erin Rosa on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 03:12:11 PM EST
    But more likely to the airport on my way to Bolivia in the next few weeks. Jeralyn, I've really enjoyed TL's crime and civil liberties reporting in the last year. I'd like to think that those of us living in Colorado have a real penchant for social libertarianism. But whether I'm right on that or not, I look forward to reading more after the New Year when the new Congress opens for business.

    Very nice to see you here... (none / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 03:52:58 PM EST
    ...Erin!  Hopefully, you'll do a little more than reading TL?  I've always enjoyed your writing...

    Thanks (none / 0) (#20)
    by Erin Rosa on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 06:37:34 PM EST
    I'm actually going to Bolivia to cover the upcoming elections in January for NarcoNews.com, an award-winning online news journal. But I do have a couple of more cards up my sleeve before I go.

    Hi Erin, (none / 0) (#39)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 12:59:35 AM EST
    Great to see you here!  What other cards? You can email me if you don't want the whole world to know!

    Wow (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 04:55:14 PM EST
    Maybe you'll get some help in the stimulus. ;-)

    Yup (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 05:08:18 PM EST
    Chicago must be feeling pretty jealous about all of this. . .

    The Eagles are going to the playoffs! (none / 0) (#16)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 05:39:53 PM EST

    Fly Eagles Fly (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Makarov on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 07:47:36 PM EST
    On To Victory!

    Eagles-Ravens superbowl will be great.


    I realized today (none / 0) (#33)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 11:06:44 PM EST
    that the reason I didn't know the Cowboys were called "America's Team" (as they are called here in NC, and apparently, the rest of the nation) is because I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania :P

    Jeez (none / 0) (#34)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 11:15:38 PM EST
    Philly native here, and I'd never heard of that. I know there's a huge rivalry, so I suppose it stands to reason.

    I thought it was weird. (none / 0) (#35)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 11:23:07 PM EST
    And then I thought, well, that description of the Cowboys probably doesn't go down well in the Philadelphia media market.

    It doesn't go down well (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by nycstray on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 11:46:12 PM EST
    in a lot of markets. Just another reason to despise them  ;) When I first moved to NY, the only time I cheered for the Giants was against the Cowboys (9er fan).  I was always offended that they assumed the Cowboys were "America's Team", they sure as heck weren't my team. I will say, sports bars are more fun when the Cowboys are playing, everybody gets along, lol!~

    Nope, not one bit (none / 0) (#36)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 11:24:46 PM EST
    There are places in South Philly where wearing a Cowboy's jersey could easily get you attacked.

    I was the attackee in High School... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by lilburro on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 02:05:42 AM EST
    no, I'm kidding...

    not that I didn't know some "attackees"...


    Private company. (none / 0) (#18)
    by oldpro on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 06:08:55 PM EST
    Any PUDs in Hawaii?

    If not, why not?

    Madoff v Lansky et al (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 06:45:59 PM EST
    A great civilization, a great people, is always known by the most brilliant, talented, and learned among them: Einstein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Leonard Bernstein. But it's also known by the quality of its crooks. (Singer knew that.) And as Jewish crooks go, Bernie Madoff would be a sad step down.

    What went wrong? If you ask me, the Bernie Madoff scandal was a tragedy of misguided upward mobility--not about Jews and money but about Jews and a sadly imitative notion of status.

    Give me a gangster over a golfer any day.

    A good read..   The cult of respectability Ron Rosenbaum via Laura Rozen

    That was a good read, and pointed out (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by scribe on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 07:35:54 PM EST
    some truths people need to remember.

    Let us assume, for the sake of discussion, that the allegations (or at least the gist of them) against Madoff are true.  One of the most central is that at least one competing investment firm had analyzed his returns (the boss wanted to meet or beat Madoff) and concluded the only way Madoff could have been doing it was as a Ponzi scheme.   They then reported him to the SEC, which went nowhere.  But it was what is called "Due diligence" on their part.

    The question has then to be "why did people invest with him?"  They didn't do their due diligence but just handed the money over....

    Reasons come up - "Status", "respectability", "exclusivity" to start.  My favorite (sadly, I've only seen it noted once): "they did some due diligence and decided it had to be either insider trading or a Ponzi scheme.  They wanted the profits and didn't want to ask too many questions - or secretly got off on the idea of benefitting from insider trading while keeping their hands clean."  We'll leave these folks out - they knew what they were getting into, more or less, and have no one but themselves to blame.

    The first three all belie a weakness of character - a need for the approbation and approval of others, and the public recognition of it.  It is, in essence, no different from buying the big expensive show-off car, the showy house, the trophy mistress(es).  Another way of saying it is that they are just plain insecure and judge themselves as inadequate.

    Madoff and those like him are attuned to pick up on those weaknesses, and use that skill to further their own scheme.  It's no different than the guy or girl who can walk into a room and pick out someone they can (and will) seduce for the night - they are attuned to recognize the signs and act on them.  Or, for that matter, a lawyer who "knows" when a witness is lying or hiding the truth.

    A lot of times, the person operating these skills may not even be conscious of it and, if you ask them, they might just claim a knack for it.

    Madoff was able to do what he did because he not only accepted a lot of seemingly-high-status people's money, but because he also rejected some.  He made himself and his outfit all the more desireable by those who would seek the status of investing with him, by letting it be known he didn't accept just anyone.  No different from a potential lover playing a bit of hard-to-get.

    So, no, I don't have too much sympathy for those Madoff victimized;  they were pretty soft-minded and saw only what they wanted to see.

    Some other time - on dealing with gangsters and staying unencumbered by the experience....


    Also (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 07:45:19 PM EST
    I imagine that more than a few of the investors are sweating quite  a bit about the ensuing federal audit.

    I would not be surprised that in addition to the lure of full assimilation into WASP culture, there were few questions asked about where the money came from and how it was claimed as income before it was invested.


    I would tend to disagree with that (none / 0) (#27)
    by scribe on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 08:08:16 PM EST
    if only because not asking the people who were investing all the relevant questions and filling out the relevant forms, would have been more suspicious.

    There was one story about a prospective investor who shied away, because he went to meet Madoff at the offices and saw a beautiful state-of-the-art trading floor, but with no people working in it and no activity at all.

    Similarly, not doing the know-your-client and vetting that investment houses do, would have raised far more suspicions than doing them, and far more quickly, too.

    If one is going to run a scam (and, it needs be noted, there is nothing I've seen which indicates Madoff knew it was a scam save his saying "there is no innocent explanation"), it would seem the best way to get away with it would be to make it look like business-as-normal.

    So, when the SEC did come and look, and they did not find a ledger entry that read "Tony Montana, Miami, 3 duffel bags of hundreds", they decided "nothing to see here", gave him a minor gig which they worked out by Madoff reorganizing his operation to fit into a different box on SEC's regulatory tree.


    Not What I Meant (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 08:24:33 PM EST
    Many rich people are looking for places to put their legitimate profits and get away with not paying taxes or reducing their liabilities in a less than kosher way. I would not be surprised that some of Madoff investors had money sent from third parties directly to Madoff so as to escape a paper trail.

    I imagine that those people may be sweating about having the Feds asking questions regarding their investments.


    Dexter (none / 0) (#22)
    by nellre on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 06:50:32 PM EST
    The very best TV series I have ever seen.
    Thought provoking. Anybody here seen it?

    3rd season (none / 0) (#26)
    by Makarov on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 07:48:50 PM EST
    wasn't as great as the first two, but still very good. The best thing about it is how well the writers tie up lose ends at the end.

    I agree about the 3rd season (none / 0) (#31)
    by ruffian on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 10:53:18 PM EST
    I thought the storyline dragged a little. But the performances were great - Smits was a perfect guest-foil.  Hall is always outstanding, and I thought Jennifer Carpenter raised it to a whole new level this year. I love that character (Debra).

    Yes, I'm a devoted fan (none / 0) (#30)
    by ruffian on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 10:49:40 PM EST
    Going through withdrawal this evening with no new episode!

    me too with (none / 0) (#40)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 01:00:40 AM EST
    no Desperate Housewives and no Brothers and Sisters.

    The FDA has approved... (none / 0) (#29)
    by wildwilly1111 on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 09:12:02 PM EST
    ...a drug to help make your eyelashes longer!

    Whew - another medical crisis averted.


    Robert Graham, the noted American (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 10:58:31 PM EST
    sculptor, died Saturday.  link

    Sad, and for his wife too, (none / 0) (#41)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 01:01:11 AM EST
    actress Angelica Huston.

    Maybe that is why rebuilding (none / 0) (#38)
    by Amiss on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 12:32:27 AM EST
    infrastructure is supposedly one of Obama's top prioities.

    Question (none / 0) (#42)
    by andgarden on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 01:56:29 AM EST
    Would Bill Krisol write a column this stupid if he didn't know he was getting the axe?

    Let me strap on my anti-gravity shoes (none / 0) (#44)
    by lilburro on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 02:11:48 AM EST
    ...there we go.

    But I also have to admit that I look forward to Obama's inauguration with a surprising degree of hope and good cheer.

    For one thing, there will be the invocation, delivered by Rick Warren.

    It's important to note that the snide pleasure of being an @ss is more important than aligning yourself with the civil libertarians in your party, aka the only ones who believe your party has a future.

    But let's ignore Ron Paul and co...you guys are doing so well!!!


    What to do with Melamine Milk . . . (none / 0) (#45)
    by nycstray on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 02:18:33 AM EST
    Make bricks!!

    Bad milk could make good bricks
    By Li Wenfang (China Daily)
    Updated: 2008-11-12 07:27

    GUANGZHOU -- Milk tainted with melamine might be used to make bricks and cement, authorities in Guangzhou said on Tuesday.

    Wang Fan, director of the Guangzhou food safety office, told China Daily that when milk is burned in a kiln it produces a residue that can be used in the manufacture of bricks and cement.

    Also, the cost of disposing of contaminated milk in this way is much lower than if it is treated as hazardous waste: about 700 yuan ($102) per ton, as opposed to 1,800 yuan per ton, he said.

    Despite media reports saying Guangzhou has about 51 tons of tainted milk, Wang said the figure is probably higher, and therefore all means of disposing of it will be considered

    Nuttin' like a lil' baby formula converted to bricks and mortar . . .