Archive

  • The American Pie President

    Nancy Nall takes the point I was circuitously making in my metaphor-heavy post (hey -- sometimes you just feel like using some imagery!) last night and shortens it into a two paragraph indictment. Well done! And her question stands: why would Bush's handlers, on the day when new Orleans was experiencing perhaps the greatest tragedy in American history, let him be photographed goofing around with a guitar? Why would they let him out at all? If he needed to leave his Ranch Set, they should've forced him to go to a Church Set (it's right across the lot, just take a left when you reach Karl Rove's trailer). Very weird. Unless Bush's handlers are themselves being handled. Digby's made this point before, but more and more, I'm think it's right. Second term Bush sees himself as a political war god. He is invincible. A senior. Class president. He already got accepted to college (thanks, dad!). He's the big man on campus. Nobody's going to expel him. Hell, nobody's going to discipline him! He...
  • Stampede

    This is the state of fear Iraqis live in now : Rumors of a suicide bomber helped set off a stampede Wednesday among tens of thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims on a Tigris River bridge, killing at least 637 people as panicked worshipers hurled themselves off the bridge or trampled others underfoot, Iraqi authorities and survivors said. [...] "The people when they were at the bridge, more than one person started yelling, and saying, 'The bridge will fall down, the bridge will explode,' " said Khalid Fadhil, a goldsmith who witnessed the stampede. "So the people started running in panic, pushing each other, trying to run away. Some of the people fell down, and the people stepped on them. The others threw themselves off the bridge, into the river."
  • Government By Babes

    The LA Times throws a roundhouse of an editorial at John Bolton's first weeks fucking up the UN on the job. The consensus? Getting things done means gumming things up. The way to reduce bureaucracy is to paralyze it in proposed amendments. The way to encourage reform is to derail the process. Now if that don't just tug on your mustache hairs! But Bolton's small fries, always has been. Appointing that walrus Ambassador to the United Nations was the Bush administration symbolically ascending to the top of Mt. International Community and pushing a shopping cart full of crap down it. What falls out is what they put in. Blaming Bolton is like condemning the shopping cart. It was the kids who loaded it up with arrogance, hypocrisy, self-contradiction, incompetence, ineffectiveness, and ignorance before sending it careening down the incline. They deserve the blame. But will they get it? No. They never do. The Bush administration is the Enron of political organizations. A teetering pile of...
  • Another One Rides the Bus

    Kevin gets into the Great Gas Tax Debate with a very convincing defense of CAFE. It's got graphs and everything! Go read.
  • GQ Filler

    Just got the latest issue of GQ . 436 pages of ads. Content doesn't begin -- begin! -- until page 120, with the letter from the editor. Nowhere in that letter does the editor apologize for the magazine's decision to give up on writing and go with a scruffy-hunky-model-in-strange-lighting format. And we don't just have ads -- there are folds out, pull-out, leaflets, different paper stocks, and all manner of trickery ensuring you can't simply turn pages until you find a byline. The magazine has to be deboned on the fly. And that, of course, fucks up the binding, so all pages, ads and the few not ads, begins falling off. Bastards.
  • Three Objections

    Matt's got a TAP column today laying out his objections to CAFE standards. Readers will be unsurprised to know I find it unconvincing. But who knows -- I may be wrong. So here are three objections for the gas tax, and maybe if advocated could answer there, I could better understand their case:
  • Forced March of the Penguins

    Via John Cole , George Will gets this just right. "March of the Penguins" raises this question: If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins? The movie documents the 70-mile march of thousands of Antarctic penguins from the sea to an icy breeding place barren of nutrition. These perhaps intelligently but certainly oddly designed birds march because they cannot fly. They cannot even march well, being most at home in the sea[...] The penguins' hardiness is remarkable, as is the intricate choreography of the march, the breeding and the nurturing. But the movie, vigorously anthropomorphizing the birds, invites us to find all this inexplicably amazing, even heroic. But the penguins are made for that behavior in that place. What made them? Adaptive evolution. They have been "designed" for all that rigor — meaning they have been shaped by adapting to many millennia of nature's harshness. "Tedious" isn't the right word for the...
  • Fear It

    Your world is about to get sleeker . Apple is bringing out an ipod cell phone. Someday, someone will write a history of mobile devices that explains why teeny-tiny cameras that focus worse than a midget after a bender were a more logical accompaniment for phones than music players, which many of us carry in our pockets anyway. And when that book is written, next week's unveiling of Apple's later market-mover will be lionized as the day sense returned to cell phone manufacturing. Unfortunately, it will also be known as the day we all switched to Cingular, even though their service totally sucks. But I guess you take the good with the bad. If my phone is going to reduced to a useless rectangle in my pocket, it may as well look like a present from the martians and hold my entire music library.
  • I Have Failed to Cure This Problem I Have Made Up

    Tierney knows not of what he speaks . Although, now that I think about it, in posts that start with the word "Tierney", the rest of that sentence is generally assumed. So never mind it. In any case, The Times ' token libertarian (and how come no major papers need a token green on staff? Don't they reliably attract more votes than libertarians?) has aimed his non sequiturs at hybrid cars and the collision, as you would expect, claimed coherency as collateral damage. Tierney apparently travelled to LA and rented a Prius so he could drive in our carpool lanes and write about how superior he felt. Unfortunately, that gig only works when your audience is in New York. As any Angeleno will tell you, our carpool lanes may as well not exist. Fairly often, they're worse than the other lanes (because movement in and out is restricted save for certain, small junctions). When traffic is clear -- it happened for about 10 minutes last October -- the carpool lane is, you guessed it, slower than the...
  • Gas Tax vs. Cafe Standards

    There's been a lot of CAFE bashing lately, and much of it, I fear, is a bit misguided. Brad Plumer (who I don't mean to single out, he's just the most recent) joins in with a post blasting CAFE in favor of a gas tax, maybe with some means-tested rebates to ease up on the regressivity of it. A few things: • First, gas taxes are a very direct way of influencing fuel consumption, but it's not clear that, at attainable rates, they actually do influence fuel consumption. Raising the tax by the small, incremental amounts that could (and by could, I mean in a hypothetical world where this was somehow a viable policy option) pass would likely do little to stem consumption. That's because, as it turns out, gas hasn't even been near the top price folks are willing to pay. Most simply bear the burden, preferring to pay more rather than disrupt their lifestyle. The place gas taxes make a difference is, in the end, among the poor, but if we put in rebates like Brad is suggesting, it won't affect...

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