Archive

  • Pro-Bucks

    Unlike Brad Plumer, I'm going to evince no shame in declaring myself objectively pro-Starbucks -- I love the place. And you know what? I don't even drink coffee. Yep -- shout it from the mountain, this decaffeinated blogger thinks independents are overrated and everyone should enjoy a local emanation of the Seattle-based giant. Starbucks offers all workers, whether full or part-time, paid vacation and sick leave, stock options, a 401(k) plan, and health benefits. The health plan is available with a mere 20-hours a week -- most places demand 40 -- and the company pays 75% of the costs, more than the federal government pays in its plans. Domestic partners are included in the coverage, and in fact were allowed in a year before unmarried heterosexual partners were brought into the fold. The plan also includes dental, vision, and mental care. My friends who work there love the job and consider themselves overpaid. My friends who work at independent shops generally dislike their work and...
  • Dean Don't Speak

    Speaking of Dean -- and freaks who read the blog from the bottom-up will know I am -- anyone else a bit surprised at the Chairman's decision to treat the press like he's a groundhog and they're his shadow? The rationale for making him chair rested pretty heavily on his facility in front of the cameras, but the reality of his chairmanship has been a continuing race away from the glare. So while I'm glad he's doing the grassroots thing and encouraged by his focus on local press, which is basically the only kind he's talking to, I fear this is less strategy than phobia. Folks who rode the Dean train the whole way through its slow-motion explosion have told me how the guv'nor's mistrust and paranoia of the national press rapidly expanded as the campaign fell. Dean, for his part, never liked the press, but at least he tolerated them. I'm a bit concerned that his past experiences have -- rightly! -- soured him on media reliability and fairness, so he's decided to circumvent them. But that...
  • Testify!

    Brad Plumer's post comparing religiously-motivated candidates with candidates attempting to appear religiously-motivated is all sorts of good, read it. But it touches on a personal crusade of mine, that "religious" is nothing more than a heuristic for moral. For Dean to strut on stage and begin talking about the Sadducees is a bit insane -- does he really think red-state voters are just waiting for him to reference an obscure Jewish sect that sought to restore the dominance of the High Priest? Worse, Dean's doesn't need religion, Kerry does. That's because we're not actually talking about religion here, we're talking about conviction. I'm not sure when we conflated the two, probably somewhere around the moment we cross-tabbed George Bush's poll numbers on conviction and religious faith. In any case, it's straight silly to believe that there's some horde of voters checking off each mention of Jesus on some Church-provided scorecard. It's just not happening. What is happening is that...
  • The End of DeLay

    And the Bugman's Shakespearian fall continues. Now it's the Wall Street Journal unsheathing the knives. The Wall Street Journal!
  • Now He Tells Us

    Well, kids, it has once again been real, but it's time for me to go. As always, your comments were thoroughly enlightening and a blast to read. Thanks for putting up with me. Here's hoping Ezra rocked some ass in that pillow fight deal he had going on. They have things like that here in NYC, except instead of pillows, we use hookers. Anyhow, since you've all been so indulgent of my every rhetorical whim, here's one more. I've written a short, one-act play, and I'd like to share it with you. I entitle it "Now, He Tells Us!" Make some popcorn, grab a loved one, and enjoy: Now, He Tells Us! A Short, One-Act Play By Daniel A. Munz Me: Paul, I have to say, I was a little dismayed by your appointment to head the World Bank. Paul: Really? Well, fuck you . Me: Right, of course. But there is one thing that makes me optimistic about your appointment. Paul: [Silence. Licks comb with anticipation.] Me: Wow, that’s weird. Anyway, what’s encouraging to me is that your passion for democratization...
  • Honesty Is Job One

    Dan Drezner takes issue with Richard Clarke’s NYT imes piece on Iran . Says the Drez: One would think that this would be the right moment for Clarke, a genuine expert on this question, to introduce his own thoughts on the matter. Instead, we get a “national dialogue” cop-out. That’s a close second behind “mobilize political willpower” on the list of Grand and Meaningless Policy Proposals. Before March 2003, I would have been with Drezner on this one. But whatever you think of Iraq, it has shown the Bush White House to be more hostile towards honest national dialogue than any modern wartime leader. Facts were fudged , the most reasonable critics were called unpatriotic , reality was ignored , and accountability was dispensed with completely . This was all allowed to happen, of course, because the American people were persuaded that Iraq/Al-Qaeda/terrorism/totalitarianism presented a life-ending, all-consuming, gut-busting, screaming threat to every American and their 2.3...
  • Hold Ourselves Accountable

    This is discouraging : Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army. Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations. I can't believe I have to make this point anymore, but: If we're going to go around spreading democracy, and accountability is a vital part of democracy, could we at least pretend to have some interest in accountability? As I think about this, I'm reminded of something Bill Clinton once said about debt releif: No one talks about it, because no one will lose an election...
  • Faith, Not God

    Andrew Sullivan's unsurprisingly saccharine piece about the Ashley Smith case symbolizes everything I love and hate about religion. Sullivan gets a big part of it right. Ashley Smith's story is astounding, both for her courage, and the fact that her courage didn't result in her lying dead in an alleyway. And even I, a fairly devout agnostic (Happy Easter!), am deeply moved by the extent to which Smith's faith played a role in producing her courage. But what kills me about the whole thing is that for many who embrace Smith's story, her courage becomes completely peripheral to the goodness of god. TNR's Lee Siegel observed that the story basically turned CNN into an extended Sunday mass: Reverend Frank Page, who presented himself as Ashley Smith's pastor and spiritual adviser and was going forth and multiplying himself on every news show in creation, told a linguistically bold Soledad O'Brien ("...do you think it's sort of a greater power at work in this sort of thing?") that Smith's...
  • Moderation For Real

    NYPress’ Matt Taibbi gets it just about right re: the “National Security Democrats”: The Democratic party leadership’s persistent and bizarre campaign of self-condemnation and Republican bootlicking is one of those things that, on its face, makes very little logical sense. It makes cultural sense; we have come to expect that the cultural figures we call the Democrats will respond to electoral failure first by sniveling and finger-pointing, and then by puffing up their chests and telling their dates they know how to handle themselves in a bar fight. From the Republicans we expect just the opposite; beaten at the polls, they immediately start cozying up to snake-handlers and gun freaks and denouncing school lunches as socialism. It is impossible to imagine a Newt Gingrich responding, say, to LBJ’ s Great Society by concocting its own expensive plan to feed the poor black man—but we fully expect that a Democrat who loses an election will suddenly start to reconsider his opposition to...
  • Cheney in 08? Nah...

    I'm going to have to go all downer on Matt and Jon Chait -- Cheney isn't going to find himself being pushed into the Oval Office. Chait thinks it'll happen because the Party doesn't want an ideologically soft successor to Bush and they know Cheney sacrifices virgins in Ronald Reagan's name. Matt thinks it's because the absence of an obvious successor and the proliferation of credible candidates will make Bush a lame duck well, now. But all that's presupposing an enormous lack of cynicism onto the Republican party. As Matt argued to Chait, to term Bush's agenda an ideology is an affront to ideologies everywhere, there's nothing recognizable to push into the future save maybe tax cuts and a willingness to take credit for positive developments abroad. But Matt's wrong as well -- no one's uniting around Cheney. Even if Bush were to publicly anoint him, pouring oil atop his bald VP on the floor of Congress (I hear John Ashcroft recommends Crisco fir impromptu anointing), Bush's lame...

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