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Nov. 13 2009 - 10:24 am | 77 views | 1 recommendation | 19 comments

Blankfein Invokes God and Man

Yes, it’s true, Blankfein did tell a reporter for the Sunday Times of London that he’s just a banker “doing God’s work,” a quote the newspaper couldn’t help but use for the headline of its 6,900-word opus about Goldman last weekend. And, no, Blankfein didn’t mean for these words to be taken seriously, according to the bank’s spokesman, Lucas van Praag.

via Blankfein Invokes God and Man at Goldman Sachs: Jonathan Weil – Bloomberg.com.

I just want the numerous people who’ve been writing to me on the subject to know that I definitely did hear Lloyd Blankfein say that he believed Goldman is doing “God’s work.” I’m trying to ignore it for the moment because I’m on a deadline and my editors will chop my balls off if I do a blog post on that right now.

I also have a number of people asking me to comment on Thomas Friedman’s recent use of a broccoli image in a column about the Amazon. I have prepared a ruling on this matter and it is forthcoming. Without getting into it too much, I believe that while it is a very close call, the use of the broccoli image was justified. To use police parlance, it was a “good shoot.”

Anyway, I have to get back to work or I am going to be fired. Apologize for the long absence.


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  1. collapse expand

    For those that don’t feel like waiting until Taibbi’s family jewels are safe, here is a link to another dunk-the-Friedman article pertaining to cruciform vegetable visions.

    WARNING: contains blatant Taibbi cowtows.

  2. collapse expand

    To listen to the recent well publicized rationalizations of banksters that rent-seeking is some form of “noblesse oblige” is particularly heinous.

    The premise of this nauseating pablum narrative is that in order to project American financial power a taxpayer financed bailout of rich folks’ bad speculative bets was in our national interest.

    To take such nonsense to a ‘higher level’ and argue on behalf of a ‘bankster manifest destiny’…. wrapping American exceptionalism with Romantic nationalism, and a belief in the natural superiority of what?, the ‘Wall and Broad Street’ Race?, is truly beyond the pale.

    The greatest atrocities in the history of humankind have usually been accompanied by moral certainty and religious fervor.

    A pox on all their bucket shops.

  3. collapse expand

    Blankfein supposedly said he was “doing God’s work” as a throwaway line, like he was living the dream. Whatever. I wonder if the “blue collar guy” reference was also a throwaway.

    Since I provided the link for mr. AB, I’ll just double up and link here to Colbert: (http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/255237/november-11-2009/goldman-sachs-does-god-s-work)

  4. collapse expand

    So it is no longer a choice between God and Mammon; now God IS Mammon. . . .

  5. collapse expand

    The “noblesse oblige” of the Free Market is certainly not limited to bankers.

    Anyone remember Enron, the company that bilked California out of something like $24 Billion, through phony plant “maintenance” and cheats such as “Death Star” — precipitating California’s fiscal crisis?

    Ken Lay, founder and late Enron chairman, son of a minister: “I believe in God and I believe in Free Markets” …”Most of all, we believe that God, in fact, is in control and, indeed, that he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord. And we love our Lord, and ultimately, all of these things will work for good.”

    Jeff Skilling, former Enron CEO: “We are the good guys. We are on the side of the angels.”

  6. collapse expand

    You god damn pussy, Taibbi. You really think Rolling Stone will fire you for missing deadline?

    All the shit Hunter Thompson pulled, he never got his balls cut off, he never got fired. They were terrified of him. And rightly so. If anyone was going to perform a rudimentary castration procedure around that office, it woulda been him with the dull scissors in his hand. I just wish it was Peter Traverse that he had tied to the table.

    If they’re not terrified of you, you’re not doing your job right.

    Go drink a jug of moonshine, swallow a couple dozen vicodin, take ten tabs of acid, stuff an eight ball up each nostril, spin around ten times, then tell your boss you’d like to have a word.

    And don’t forget your gun.

    • collapse expand

      This may start a flame war, but one of the ways Taibbi’s writing is far superior to Thompson(a trite comparison to start with) is that you don’t need to wade through 100 paragraphs cataloging drug/alcohol consumption to get to one of substantial insight. I don’t care what substances you need, Matt, thanks for leaving it out of your writing.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      So he’s supposed to leave a paying gig writing something of substance to entertain you by commenting on old news?!

      Good luck with the deadline, Mr. Taibbi. As funny as your anger is, I enjoy your well-researched articles far more.

      Lastly, for the love of sanity, please don’t write about Palin’s book unless your editor forces you, and in which case, I will mail him/her a dead fish (moose are problematic).

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    Let us know if your boss does cut your balls off. I know a guy at Goldman who assured me that “Testicle Futures” was a great investment.

  8. collapse expand

    Oh the broccoli image was fine, the forest canopy probably looks exactly like that. As Friedmanisms go that was nothing, it actually made sense, and it wasn’t mixed with or contradicted by the next sentence.

    More noteworthy was that Friedman also wrote this:

    “The amount of carbon dioxide, or CO2, all those cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships collectively emit into the atmosphere is actually less than the carbon emissions every year that result from the chopping down and clearing of tropical forests in places like Brazil, Indonesia and the Congo.”

    Carbon emissions don’t result from chopping down trees. The emissions are there either way, the trees absorb CO2, is the point. Or not, if they’ve been chopped down so that they can’t.

    We mustn’t forget that there’s an underlying reason for Friedman’s way with imagery when he writes. It’s not like he includes all of the crazy mixed metaphors as some sort of game, purposely placing them like Easter Eggs so that Matt Taibbi can find them and have fun ridiculing him.

    No, Friedman includes them because he can’t write. It’s not just the metaphor mixing that displays this, it’s nearly everything he writes.

    He starts the Amazon piece with a mild mixing of “bowls you over” and “stuns me”, showing once again that he just basically doesn’t realize how metaphors work, that they build images in the reader’s mind that help to make things seem more grounded in the physical world.

    Friedman is instead constantly painting pictures in the reader’s mind that only muddle things, creating images that make no sense, say of cows flying spaceships while still grazing in a field on Earth, or whatever, leaving the reader more confused than ever about whatever it is Friedman is trying to say.

    However, the somewhat mixed metaphor he opened with was nothing compared to that next passage in which he says that chopped down trees emit pollution, basically. I had to read it twice to figure out what was wrong with it.

    I tried to read that Flat Earth book years ago and I couldn’t finish a page. Not one. I tried a bunch of different pages to see if I had just had bad luck with the first one, and then the second, but all of the ones I tried were just as bad as the first. I hadn’t heard of Matt Taibbi at that point, but I was happy when I did mostly because he was actually forced to read entire Friedman books. Then the fun started.

  9. collapse expand

    Griffiths and Blankfein aren’t talking as crazily as you seem to think. You may disagree with it, but this is the Calvinist spiritual view of money, later adopted by the Puritans and others, which created modern capitalism. We associate Goldman et al with ostentation, and that was reviled by Calvin and his predecessor Luther, but generating wealth as a fulfillment of God’s purposes is the “Protestant ethic” to which Max Weber referred, and from which big finance eventually emerged.

    • collapse expand

      Also: funny, that, since usury is prohibited in the Bible.
      Oooohhhhhh yeeeaaahhhhh, at some point us humans decided that “usury” actually meant “charging too much interest”. Originally, usury meant charging any interest, and it was a sin. Because charging interest meant making money off of Time, and only God owned Time.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I have to disagree with you. The seeds of capitalism were sown during the trecento, maybe even earlier, and the roots took hold during the Renaissance.

      With western europe rebounding from the ravages of the plague, travels abroad (especially to the east) and translation of writings from Greco-Roman era and Islamic societies, there were many innovations in philosophy, math, science, and basic technology. The continent was ripe for class mobility fueled by trade of goods, ideas, and other resources. Religion was certainly a part of the culture, and the Gutenberg Bible (printed on a machine inspired by innovations in china) certainly helped changed the social landscape of the church, but the protestant movements can’t be credited with the invention of capitalism. Calvinists might have been happy to jump on the bandwagon and contribute, but that’s s much as I can give them.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I was referring to the invention of “modern capitalism”, by which I meant large-scale capitalism abstracted and promoted through the medium of big finance, of which Goldman is a contemporaneous example. The precursor of this is the frenzy of incorporation (cf. the Dutch East India Company) to exploit the riches and resources uncovered by extended exploration (cf. Sir Walter Raleigh), which reached its zenith in England during the Elizabethan era, not in Italy during the trecento. A cultural precondition of that was Calvin’s spiritual redemption of riches, if not the greed or ostentation we normally associate with Wall Street.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    …”If you want to know how God feels about money, take a look at who She gives it to”

    –Anne Lamott

  11. collapse expand

    Of course Palin has nothing substantial to say. Career politicians have NO political convictions. Their most efficient skill is the ability to field questions with affected alacrity. They are all certainly whores and I suspect they are also sociopaths. Their main purpose is to get elected, stay in office, and line their pockets and those of their pimps. If their egos don’t require constant microphones and cameras, they comfortably mutate into bag men, or as they prefer to be called, lobbyists.

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    I'm a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and I also write books for a Random House imprint called Spiegel and Grau.

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