Archive

  • Caesar's Bath

    The day before he began blogging here, Neil tagged me with the Caesar's Bath meme. Fun. This one makes you name five things everyone else thinks are great but you just think are kinda, well, nice enough. Plus, I've got a nice, controversial last one that you'll all flay me alive for. Off we go: The New Yorker: Really, what's the fuss? I recognize that the writing is often inspired, but the topic choice rarely is, meaning I'm only occasionally interested in whatever the magazine has decided to spend that week's 40,000 words on. The latest issue wastes half its time reestablishing John McCain's credentials as a lovable, cuddly outsider whose tough as nails when the situation warrants and has the genetic makeup to live until 170 and the rest inveighing against the scientific bankruptcy of Intelligent Design. Fine articles both, I guess, but I could have absorbed the same information in less time elsewhere, and indeed, I did so years ago. I guess that's my problem with the New Yorker ,...
  • Boosting the Brand

    I've been wondering why we don't see more political ads aimed at boosting parties as a whole, rather than particular candidates. Given that many voters will walk into voting booths with no idea who the downticket candidates are, spending money on improving the Democratic brand might win more votes than giving the cash to individual candidates. And there are lots of advantages that the Democratic Party as a whole is in position to claim. I've mentioned the deficit reduction stuff , but I'm also wondering if there's a nice way to sell parts of our anti-terrorism plan on TV. I'm not sure what the prospects for catchy jingles are here, but I'd like to see what some smart people would come up with. Maybe MoveOn could do another contest like the one where they came up with that great deficit ad . The media covers political ad buys heavily enough that even if we buy only a few spots in select markets, our message will probably reverberate for a while. -- Neil the Werewolf
  • Fast

    I see that Amanda Marcotte has a box of tissues for Robby Gordon, the Indy car driver who complained about Danica Patrick's weight advantage. All I've got for Robby is this link . -- Neil the Werewolf
  • What Rights There Are

    On my own blog, I never got around to commenting on the post where Ezra argued against the libertarian who said: Let's talk about health care for a minute. Health care is certainly a need, but it is not a right. And all the high sounding rhetoric in the world that says otherwise is baloney. Rights don't involve, involuntarily, the assets of others. Any 'right' to health care would make exactly that sort of demand on the assets of health care workers. Don't let libertarians get away with this. It's really hard to defend a notion of rights that doesn't involve, involuntarily, the assets of others. Consider the right to vote. For you to exercise this right, there need to be voting machines and ballots and people hired to count the ballots. Keeping a poor person from voting because he didn't have money to contribute to these things would still violate his right to vote. For his rights to be respected, others' assets would have to be deployed. Or consider criminal justice. For property...
  • Humanity

    Watch Tacitus equivocate : it's not convenience, but humanity that is the core question. Is the fetus, embyro, blastula, et al., human? There are only three possible answers: provably not, provably so, or possibly. We can discard the first, since even pro-abortion, anti-life types implicitly concede the humanity of the fertilized egg and beyond by dint of their position on stem cells, the purported utility of which is premised entirely upon their humanity. Tacitus uses the word "humanity" to mean two different things. In the first sense, the sense in which humanity is indeed important, having humanity is having a certain moral standing and deserving moral concern from others in something like the way that adult, living human beings do. In the second sense, having humanity or "being human" is simply a matter of falling into a particular biological category, as stem cells do. The two concepts are wholly distinct. Galadriel, Lt. Worf, and Chewbacca have humanity in the first sense but...
  • Memorial Day

    For all of the men and women who fought for the people of America, not just the soldiers in the trenches and battlefields who fought the foreign enemies of our people, but the union members who faced the Pinkertons, the marchers who faced the police and their dogs, and each person with the courage to speak out for the people: Thank you for your courage and sacrifices. I remember you, and will do my best to honor you with works and words. For the man who sacrificed a lifetime of peaceful nights for his service in a dirty war that few of us even know took place, and then spent the rest of his life serving our children: Thank you for your sacrifices and the lessons that you taught. May you at long last have the peace that you deserved. I remember you, and will do my best to honor you with works and words. For the young man who is just beginning his service to the people of America, even while he knows that he can not trust the leaders to which he has sworn obedience: I thank you for your...
  • Taking One For The Team

    Business Week steps forward with the obligatory article on how United Auto Worker intransigence is worsening Detroit's woes. But midway through the piece, a passage flashes by that explains the difference between yesteryear's take-one-for-the-team unions and today's seemingly immovable objects. The difference? At one point, there was, in fact, a team: When Chrysler wrung mid-contract cutbacks from the UAW in 1981, the company was strapped. Chrysler (DCX ) canceled its dividend, top execs took a 10% pay cut, and then-Chairman Lee A. Iacocca worked for a dollar that year. Today, both GM and Ford still pay a dividend, and GM CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. got a $2.5 million bonus for 2004 -- on top of his $2.2 million in salary. Both companies also have huge cash hoards -- $20 billion at GM and $23 billion at Ford. Until the companies are close to bankruptcy, union leaders see no reason to give up benefits. What Wagoner did to deserve that bonus is far beyond my limited comprehension (helped...
  • It's Just Hard Work

    David Sirota has been running a series of posts on the Senatorial bid of Rep. Bernie Sanders , (Democratic Socialist - Vermont). As I read it, Bernie Sanders has two lessons to teach the Democratic Party. First, that one can be an economic populist without the negative out-group Dixiecrat pandering to prejudice that flatters itself as "cultural conservatism". And before all of the "centrists" and Republicans out there start parroting the Club For Growth talking points about how Vermont is just another ultraliberal East Coast Volvo-latte-hippie dystopia and shouldn't really count, let's do some math.
  • Free Trade Here Now!

    A lot of people on the left are unhappy with American trade policy. They think corporations are profiting by keeping the Third World in poverty. They're right about this, but not exactly in the way that many of them think. As far as policy in the First World is concerned, it's our protectionism, not free trade, which impoverishes poor nations. That's why venerable relief organizations like Oxfam are pushing for America to permit more imports of foreign goods. (In poor countries, the story is different -- the relief organizations tend to support poor countries in protecting nascent industries and blocking imports.)
  • The Return of Brooks

    David Brooks's column today is the best I've seen him write since signing on with the Times . This is what he used to be like in The Atlantic -- playful, thought-provoking, idiosyncratic. Turned out he couldn't do that on a biweekly basis, so he gratefully slumped into the waiting arms of talking points and hackery, but somewhere, deep inside reasonable and non-threatening exterior, lurks the unique cultural critic everybody used to enjoy. Ezra

Pages