Archive

  • Call Me When He Turns Into a Bat

    You gotta feel bad for Bob Novak. It's no easy transition to start the day a hack and end the week a criminal. That Novakula reacted to Carville's gentle patter as if someone had thrown open his coffin lid in broad daylight is just a symptom -- he didn't expect to be here, didn't want to be here, he's not the story. But he is. Amy Sullivan's piece on the guy made this point pretty well, but the reason Novak, a droopy, heavy, ugly guy with little on-air charisma and no proven facility for independent thought, has succeeded so stunningly is because, in addition to a principled refusal to engage in critical thinking, he took a similar stand against filtering information. Novak waits for what the cat drags in, then dedicates his column to dragging it back out. He's not a Krugman, a Brooks, or a Will, his columns aren't arguments or advocacy. Instead, they're transcripts. Whatever scuttlebut, rumors, hearsay, and smears Novak receives during a week are tossed in, and, lo and behold, a...
  • Don't Forget the Insidious "Tuxedo T-Shirt"

    GQ's "The Style Guy" is not where I generally expect to find penetrating social commentary, but when it pops up amidst the wrinkled suits and shoes with buckles, who am I to refuse? In my opinion, the casual movement has gone hand in hand with the restructuring of society. The past ten years have seen the creation of a class of superrich, who own everything, while the middle class has eroded. But it's all very invisible, because the superrich have traded in their frock coats and wing collars for jeans and sneakers. Bill Gates wears denim shirts, Steve Jobs wears jeans. It's brilliant when you think about it: The next fascism won't be Blackshirts in shiny jackboots; it'll be "barbecue casual".
  • At Least Obama Can Relax

    Paul Hackett's a good guy, but could we not raise the bar quite this high? Plenty of other candidates have outperformed expectations, even done so wildly, and not become Bill Clinton. Let's relax for a few months, then try and get the guy elected to something before we start planning his acceptance speech at the 2020 convention.
  • Would You Like Some Solitaire?

    Hmm...I knew Kerry was a traitorous, underhanded Frenchman, but I didn't know he'd go so far as to make George W. Bush into his very own Manchurian candidate.
  • Modern Newt

    Since bloggers ( Mark , Kevin , Matt ) are talking about Newt Gingrich today, here are some highlights from GQ's spread on the guy. Newt, while bright and ideologically consistent, is also batshit crazy, a real radical. Like lots of young liberals weaned on the current Bush administration's deceptiveness, I have a certain affection for Gingrich's essential honesty in advocating rightwing nuttery as a governing platform. But that doesn't make him a better president than the others, just more respectable (and defeatable). Some of these quotes will explain why. The first shows why Newt is the candidate of crazy conservative comic-book artists. He echoes their powerlessness and amplifies it, giving it volume and a rationale. He takes their paranoia and tells them it's principle. Newt, you have to realize, perfected the "whine of the oppressed white-man" long before it was on Thomas Frank's radar. It's how he won Congress in 1994: Didn't the 2004 election demonstrate that the secular...
  • Water, Water, Not Everywhere...

    Things that make me feel like an asshole (Via Matt Holt ): More than 2.6 billion people, or more than 40 percent of the world's population, lack basic sanitation, and more than one billion people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all illness in the world is due to water-borne diseases, and that at any given time, around half of the people in the developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water or sanitation, which kill around five million people a year. Widespread illness also makes countries less productive, more dependent on outside aid, and less able to lift themselves out of poverty. One of the main reasons girls do not go to school in many parts of the developing world is that they have to spend so much time fetching water from distant wells. Clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 billion a year beyond current spending on water projects, according...
  • Hot or Not?

    Interesting: Although looks in mating still matter much more to men than to women, the importance of appearance appears to be rising on both sides of the gender divide. In a fascinating cross-generational study of mating preferences, every 10 years different groups of men and women were asked to rank 18 characteristics they might want enhanced in a mate. The importance of good looks rose “dramatically” for both men and women from 1939 to 1989, the period of the study, according to David M. Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas. On a scale of 1 to 3, the importance men gave to good looks rose from 1.50 to 2.11. But for women, the importance of good looks in men rose from 0.94 to 1.67. In other words, women in 1989 considered a man’s looks even more important than men considered women’s looks 50 years earlier. Since the 1930s, Buss writes, “physical appearance has gone up in importance for men and women about equally, corresponding with the rise in television,...
  • Pricing the Uninsured

    Yesterday, Brad Plumer brought up the question of whether or not it's cheaper to leave the uninsured outside the system. From one perspective, it obviously is: the insured use $2,484 of health care each year, while the uninsured get only $1,253. But it's trickier than that. Kaiser estimates that covering the uninsured would boost their annual earnings by 10%-30%, lift their educational attainment, and prolong their lives by 5%-15%. There's money to be had there, in higher purchasing power, in better productivity, and in longer work years (though there's also money to be lost, as longer lives may mean more costs), all of which may translate into larger government tax revenues and increased ability to pay for their own health insurance. But the more interesting argument is who pays. Covering the uninsured is, in some ways, a cost-shifting device. That's because the uninsured, for the most part, aren't poor. The poor have Medicaid. The uninsured are (generally) low-income folks above the...
  • John Roberts: Gay-Rights Crusader

    According to The LA Times , John Roberts did a fair bit of pro-bono work for a gay-rights group, and was instrumental in helping them win their case: Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay rights activists as part of his law firm's pro bono work. He did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case. Later on, the reporter recounts how Roberts went so far as to play Scalia before the group, peppering them with their archenemy's likely questions and teaching them how to parry, feint, and win. Kevin Drum is interested...
  • Tom Tancredo. Puppet.

    Has anyone else noticed that caped anti-immigration crusader Tom Tancredo's leadership group is called Team America PAC? Does anyone else find that hilariously funny? Is this a secret clue that the guy's just as much a parody as he seems and is really nothing but a puppet dancing for observer amusement?

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