• A Question

    In between the blogs, my wonk magazines, my political books, and all the other mind-numbing information sources I hoover up during the day, I take breaks with GQ and Esquire , both of which I love. My girlfriend, though, was looking over my shoulder the other day, and noticing that the magazines are packed with ads from fine designers, asked a pretty damn good question: "How do they afford it?" Take Ermenegildo Zegna. Great clothes, sure, but not a household name. Not a designer that can be selling a high volume. Everything's expensive, but they're not playing with the quantities that, say, Target is. Not to mention their clothes can't be cheap to produce: I assume they use good materials, skilled tailors, etc (I could, of course, be wrong; I'm not exactly know for my designer clothing), none of which would leave them very large profit margins. So where are they getting the cash to take out multiple full ads in high-circulation magazines? Do designer shops make a whole lot more than I...
  • Which Thing is Not Like the Other Thing?

    This week, on Meet the Press , Greenspan's bedmate Andrea Mitchell offered the following observation on the Pirro/Clinton match: MS. MITCHELL: And [Pirro's] husband was nowhere in sight, of course. He is a convicted felon. Is this also going to be race where you've got two very accomplished women trying to keep their husbands off of the podium? To which Sam Rosenfeld replies : That's indeed a good question -- as we all know, the only thing more embarassing than having a convicted felon for a husband is having a popular former two-term president for one. Oh, the ignominy! He goes on to note that Pirro's website has 100 pictures, none of them with her husband. Hillary's site has 15, and nine of them feature Bill, all of which goes to show Hillary's essential ineptitude as a politician/web designer/wife/scrapbook compiler. Somebody call Ed Klein!
  • You, Sir, Are No Ronald Reagan

    From WaPo's editorial : Back in 1987, when Mr. Reagan applied his veto to what was generally known at the time as the highway and mass transit bill, he was offended by the 152 earmarks for pet projects favored by members of Congress. But on Wednesday Mr. Bush signed a transportation bill containing no fewer than 6,371 earmarks. Each one of these, as Mr. Reagan understood but Mr. Bush apparently doesn't, amounts to a conscious decision to waste taxpayers' dollars. One point of an earmark is to direct money to a project that would not receive money as a result of rational judgments based on cost-benefit analyses. Mr. Bush, who had threatened to veto wasteful spending bills, chose instead to cave in. He did so despite the fact that in addition to a record number of earmarks the transportation bill came with a price tag that he had once called unacceptable. The bill has a declared cost of $286 billion over five years plus a concealed cost of a further $9 billion; Mr. Bush had earlier...
  • Might As Well Just Scrap the Thing

    District Judge Rosemary M. Collyers just exploded the union-busting new workplace rules the Bush administration attached onto the Dept. of Homeland Security. She said they left unions bargaining on quicksand, tied to a set of contracts and agreements the Bush administration could change at any time. She said that a contract that is not mutually binding is not a contract. She said the new scheme is illegal, and the Bush administration can't just contravene settled law because it wants to. Wait, has anyone told that to the President!? (yuk, yuk, yuk) But Bush and Rove don't care whether these worker rules are thrown out, they never gave a damn about firing flexibility anyway. The genesis of the new regulations was political: Joe Lieberman thought up this popular new department, George W. Bush stood in unpopular opposition for seven months, the 2002 midterm elections loomed, Rove decided to flip their position, they realized this was the sort of killer issue that they should put...
  • Thanks to Weekend Salon Members

    I had a lot of fun, and I hope you readers liked it too. If you have ideas for how it could be improved, put 'm in comments. Otherwise, big thanks to Nick Beaudrot , Daniel Munz , Shakespeare's Sister , Neil Sinhababu , and Pepper .
  • A Question of Balance

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Neil's Ethical thoughts offer an a useful way to advocate change -- appeal to the desire for excitement and fame -- that doesn't require laying on "there are starving children in Africa" guilt. It's a wonderful argument, since liberal guilt is really unpleasant; lots of people, and I dare to say even a fair number of liberals, would rather simply avoid thinking about all the problems in the world that ought to be solved than be put in a situation where they feel guilty about them. However, whether the motivation for liberal problem-solving is excitement or guilt, the conclusion in extremis is that we should dedicate our lives' work towards relieving the suffering of others. This quickly comes into conflict with the basic desire for comfort -- it's exceedingly difficult to swallow the pay cut that often comes along wit non-profit work, politcal work, or joining the Peace Corps; even if you can take the pay cut, you're often "putting your...
  • RFK, Man of Confidence?

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Ezra (?) writes : What struck me about Shakespeare's Sister's post wasn't that she was a girl playing video games, but that she'd articulated what I miss in video games, what I miss in culture, what I miss in politics. I miss heroes, and the sort of society that wants to see them. I want an RFK* to stand up and fight injustice ... * A tortured soul if there ever was one, but not publicly. Bwuh? Robert F. "I dream things that never were, and ask why not" Kennedy wasn't publicly a tortured soul? Bobby "I have come here because our great nation is troubled" Kennedy? Bobby "There is difficulty and division in the land" Kennedy? I could go on, but eventually I will shoot all the fish in the barrel.
  • We are all Spider-Man

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf One feature of commonsense moral thought is the doing/allowing distinction. It's generally believed that it's worse to do some evil yourself than to allow another person to do the same evil, even if you have the power to stop them from doing it. I think this distinction plays a big role in shaping our social and political behavior -- for example, why we're unwilling to inflict corporal punishment on criminals, but willing to imprison them in situations where other inmates will abuse them. One of the most unfortunate ways this distinction operates in the world is by inhibiting action that would make faraway suffering people better off. Since you're not doing any actions that make the people in Sudan suffer, you're not obligated to act so as to prevent their suffering. Sure, it'd be great if you did something, but no obligation binds you. One of my favorite things about the kinds of heroes we find in fantasy is that this distinction has less of an impact on...
  • Gabba Gabba Hey CBGB Is in Trouble!

    By Pepper Given that there's a new quiz asking us to find out which 70s glam icon you are (I'm David Johansen of the New York Dolls), it's time to think about the state of legendary punk club CBGBs. CBGBs is in deep debt to its landlord. According to CBGB owner Hilly Kristal in a Spin magazine interview, CBGB and homeless nonprofit the Bowery Residents' Committee are fighting over big bucks: "They've tangled in court over $300,000 in back rent (which Kristal agreed to pay in installments in 2001), unbilled rent increases amounting to $85,000."
  • Stick to Baseball and Wall Street

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Michael Lewis, whose book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game almost upended my life, is apparently the last pro-Arnold commentator standing . You should read the article, but make sure you're not drinking any fizzy drinks when you do. Lewis is falling for the siren's call of the anti-politican; the notion that most professional pols are lesser men (how many fomer CEOs and multi-millionaire small businessmen are in the Senate?), and that just putting someone into office who's more in touch with the rest of us (why, exactly would a twenty-million-bucks-per-movie-actor fit into that category?) will both result in better governance and be more entertaining for the rest of us. Well, I suppose Arnold does make the headlines a bit more often; there aren't many other governors digging potholes so they can hold a photo-op to fill them. Meanwhile, in the Reality-Based community, the Governator is currently losing head-to-head matchups with...