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Friday, January 11, 2013

Jack Lew's Garbage Signature and the People Who Hate It

Posted by on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 7:38 AM

Conservative blogs are currently obsessed with Jack Lew's shitty signature. The president even addressed the "controversy" during the press conference announcing the choice. Setting aside the fact that this is all pointless harrumphing—I'm sure that if Lew gets the job, he won't half-ass the signature that winds up on every piece of paper currency in the United States—it's an interesting illustration of how far good handwriting has fallen in the public's esteem. Handwriting feels like a conservative issue. While this is obviously a partisan issue, it's hard to imagine liberal blogs getting this outraged about someone's penmanship.

Over the weekend, I read a book called The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, by British novelist Philip Hensher. It wasn't very good. There were interesting bits here and there—a brief history of modern cursive, a discussion of the importance of handwriting in the novels of Dickens—but too much of the book is given over to anecdotes that feel more like the rantings of a prematurely old man. (I especially disliked Hensher's stories about how the dumb students in his college classes don't understand the importance of handwriting; even though he doesn't name the young people, it still feels like a breach of trust.)

I'm clearly biased, here. My handwriting is, and has always been, truly awful. I resent the fact that I was told that learning cursive was an important part of becoming an adult with a job, when I haven't written a single thing in cursive in well over a decade. But as someone who loves paper and printed books and getting and sending letters, I'm obviously in the persuadable camp. Hensher doesn't try to coax any readers to his side, though. The assumption seems to be that readers of The Missing Ink are already upset that handwriting has become a diminished thing, so the book feels lazy, lacking in structure and flitting from one aspect to the next with the general feeling that the readers will follow no matter how uninteresting the next topic may be. If your book is supposed to be about "the lost art of" anything at all, shouldn't a primary concern be in convincing interested parties into keeping that art alive? Rather than mocking Lew, shouldn't those who value penmanship try to sway him into giving a damn?


Comments (15) RSS

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rob! 1
"Jack assures me that he is gonna work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency"—Obama

Posted by rob! on January 11, 2013 at 7:52 AM · Report this
care bear 2
I'm sad to hear that the book isn't any good. I heard him on NPR a while back and I thought it might be interesting. I have fantastic handwriting and I love writing letters and taking notes. I wish more people did too.
Posted by care bear on January 11, 2013 at 8:11 AM · Report this
badstone 3
As I understand it, cursive makes sense if you're using a fountain or dip pen prone to splotching if you break contact with the paper. With ballpoint pens, why bother with it? Printing is more legible.
Posted by badstone on January 11, 2013 at 8:13 AM · Report this
care bear 4
@3 Not my printing. And cursive is way faster.
Posted by care bear on January 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
Signatures aren't about penmanship. Signatures are about unique marks that are easy to reproduce by the signatory. There's no reason they need to be legible.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM · Report this
CC-Rob 6
Jack Lew played an important role at Citibank when the economy crashed. He is receiving very little scrutiny from both the corporate media and (sadly) liberal blogs. But hey, how about those crazy wingnuts talking obsessing over his shitty handwriting?
Posted by CC-Rob on January 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM · Report this
Fnarf 7
@5, that's true when you or I sign our checks (something I do so seldom now that when it comes time to sign my ballots I have to stop and think about how to do it) but not for the Secretary of the Treasury. If you're going to write on our money, you should be able to do it legibly. That signature makes him look like a tool. It makes him look like he's four years old.
Posted by Fnarf on January 11, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Why is that f**kwit Constant ALWAYS so in love with Obama's neocons????

Naked Came the Treasury Secretary

Another Epic Fail of Obama’s neocon administration

Years ago, a group of anonymous newsies wrote a book on sex (the equivalent of the present day’s 50 Shades of Grey type stuff), called Naked Came The Stranger --- several entertainingly erotic stories, the rest your usual “sex as a weapon” or “have sex and suffer the consequences” type drivel.

We see much the same writing with the latest newsy bullcrap on the recent presidential appointment.

Obama’s latest necon/Wall Street stooge appointment, Jacob “Jack” Lew, is being spun by corporate newsies as a “change” or “alteration” from Timmy Geithner, fave of Wall Street and the Rockefeller/Kissinger/Peterson gang.

Bullcrap to the max! ! !

Lew has consistently been a major promoter of shadow banking --- credit derivatives and securitizations: fantasy finance instruments based upon never-ending layers of debt.
Lew is an inveterate liar, poser and shill; nothing which would or should recommend him for any government position.

A leader in "regulatory capture” --- the modern term for absolute corruption!

From the stock pools of yesteryear, leading up to the Great Crash of 1929, to the dark pools of today, leading to the economic meltdown and the Great Deleveraging (which should last for another 20 years or so, at least), this very day we have both stock pools (proprietary trading and HFT) and dark pools (opaque hedge funds and private equity funds, etc.).

With the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s latest report, the compiled list of derivatives of the banksters as of the end of 2011, we see that 97% of the credit derivatives held by the banks is composed of credit default swaps (“unregulated insurance”), with 40% of that figure in the speculative category (“naked swaps”) --- actually something of a misnomer, since they themselves define which are used for speculation and which aren’t, and since they can all conceivably be used for such, it may very well be that all 97% are, or will eventually be, naked swaps!

Of course, if said credit derivatives were actually valued at mark-to-market --- or street value --- they would be worthless, which was why the accounting rules were allowed to be changed enabling the banksters to declare the value of their “assets” themselves, much the same manner as they now declare the American worker as having no value, hence their justification for offshoring as many jobs as possible, and paying as little in wages as possible, for the foreseeable future.

Were those credit derivatives held by JPMorgan Chase valued honestly, tomorrow there would be NO JPMorgan Chase, and Jamie Dimon could move on to his very own reality-comedy show, titled: “Jamie, Jamie, Jamie!!!”

Sidebar: In between the Clinton and Obama administrations, during Lew’s stint at NYU “..Lew aided the university in ending graduate students' collective bargaining rights. The Obama administration has maintained that Lew supports workers' union rights.”

In June 2006, Lew was named chief operating officer of Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit, a proprietary trading group. The unit he oversaw invested in a hedge fund "that bet on the housing market to collapse."

Lew co-chaired the Advisory Board for City Year New York.[22] He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution Hamilton Project Advisory Board, and the National Academy of Social Insurance.”

(FYI: Hamilton Project is Robert Rubin’s creation to promote the privatization of EVERYTHING!)

Posted by sgt_doom on January 11, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
rob! 9
Greenback signature porn for Fnarf:
Posted by rob! on January 11, 2013 at 10:27 AM · Report this
rob! 10
Also, we've been down this road before (recently!):…
Posted by rob! on January 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM · Report this
@7, speaking of looking like a four year old...
Posted by GermanSausage on January 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
Knat 12
About half the comments on that YouTube video are brazenly racist and anti-Semitic. Isn't it considerate when intellectual dwarfs wear their bigotry on their sleeve, rather than forcing you to suss it out over the course of multiple comments?
Posted by Knat on January 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 13
I haven't written anything in cursive besides my signature in about 35 years. When I write anything by hand, I print. I can't see any future need for cursive. It sounds vaguely blasphemous even to me, but I don't know why we bother to teach it to kids any more. What's the point?
Posted by Reverse Polarity on January 11, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 14
@8: "Why is that f**kwit Constant ALWAYS so in love with Obama's neocons????"

Because Constant's job exclusively entails bitching about all the mean things those dastardly conservatives say about Obama the Great. Duh.

On today's Democracy Now! (video):"Failure of Epic Proportions": Treasury Nominee Jack Lew’s Pro-Bank, Austerity, Deregulation Legacy

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Black, let’s start with you. Your assessment of Jack Lew?

WILLIAM BLACK: Well, on financial matters, Jack Lew has been a failure of pretty epic proportions, and he gets promoted precisely because he is willing to be a failure and is so useful to Wall Street interests. So, you’ve mentioned two of the things in terms of the most important and most destructive deregulation under President Clinton by statute. But he was also there for much of the deregulation by rule, and a strong proponent of it, and he was there for much of the cutting of staff. For example, the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, lost three-quarters of its staff, and that huge loss began under Clinton. And the whole reinventing government, Lew was a strong supporter of that. And, for example, we were taught—instructed by Washington that we were to refer to banks as our "clients" in our role as regulators and to think of them as clients.

He goes from there to Wall Street, where he was a complete failure. You noted that part of what Citicorp did was bet that housing would fall. That was actually one of their winning bets. But they actually made a bunch of losing bets, as well. And the unit that he was heading would have not been permissible but for the deregulation of getting rid of Glass-Steagall under President Clinton. And you saw, as an example of Citicorp, why we shouldn’t be doing this. Why would we create a federal subsidy where all of us, through the U.S. government, are on the hook for Citicorp’s gambling on financial derivatives for its own account, you know, running a casino operation? That makes absolutely no public policy sense.

Then he comes into the Obama administration, and he was disastrously wrong. He tried very hard to impose austerity on the United States back in 2011, which is—he wanted, you know, the European strategy, which has pushed the eurozone back into recession, and Spain, Greece and Italy into Great Depression levels of unemployment.

And this is the guy, after all of these failures, who also is intellectually dishonest. He will not own up to his role and deregulation’s role and de-supervision’s role in producing this crisis—and not just this crisis, but the Enron-era crisis and the savings-and-loan debacle.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Matt Taibbi, your reaction to the nomination of Jack Lew by President Obama?

MATT TAIBBI: I think there’s a couple things. I agree with everything that Professor Black said. I think it’s—the symbolism of this choice is, I think, very important for people, just the mere fact of picking somebody from Citigroup and from that same Bob Rubin nexus that Timothy Geithner came from. And, you know, you heard Barack Obama, as he’s introducing Jack Lew, praising Tim Geithner as somebody who’s going to go down in history as one of the great treasury secretaries of all time. I think what this tells everybody is that Jack Lew is going to represent absolute continuity with the previous treasury secretary, who had a very specific agenda when it came to Wall Street. And I think we’re just going to expect more of the same, more of the same really being overt and covert support of these too-big-to-fail institutions that Lew worked for, Citigroup being the worst and most disastrous example of that kind of company. So I think it’s—the choice of somebody from that particular firm is fraught with pretty upsetting symbolism for the country, I think.
Posted by Ipso Facto on January 11, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Sandiai 15
I once worked for a guy who was born blind, and his signature looked just like that.
Posted by Sandiai on January 11, 2013 at 8:36 PM · Report this

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