Archive

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Wal-Mart's Fine

    That Nathan Newman sure knows how to drive home a point : Prosecutors announced they were dropping all criminal charges against Wal-Mart for its use of contractors employing undocumented workers in exchange for paying an $11 million fine, a hefty sounding amount but a pittance for a company with $288.2 billion in sales last year. Let's put it this way-- this is an equivalent financial hit to an average person making $50,000 per year being hit with a $1.90 fine for illegal activity. Wow. I mean, really, Wow. I don't make enough in income to even be taxed, but I spent too long getting books from my room today and got a $40 parking ticket. Let's say, for argument's sake, that I make 20,000 a year. My parking ticket comes to .2% of my imaginary income. Not a whole lot, but remember, all I did was dawdle a bit while my car was in a loading zone. Wal-Mart, having employed illegal workers at wages barely above indentured servitude, was hit with a fine equalling .0038% of their income...
  • Speak Loudly and Carry a Big Camera

    The huge fuss the GOP is making over Terry Schiavo would be understandable, if not respectable, if they could marshal some poll numbers that showed, like on gay marriage, that the issue was a political winner for them. But it's not . 65% of Americans think Schiavo's husband should have the final say on her care, and 87% would not want to be kept alive in her condition. 87%! So in case you were wondering, this isn't cynical, lowest-common-denominator politics being played by the right. This is, instead, more proof that a small band of nuts has the party by the balls, and the leadership is happy to embark on the most insane and quixotic of quests in order to please them. Why the Democrats aren't fanning out into the media repeating the simple refrain that this is none of the government's goddamn business I'll never know. And why they're allowing the GOP to pass legislation making a state court decision eligible for review by a federal court is even stranger, this is exactly the sort of...
  • Stick With Your Intuition

    If I were Joe Lieberman and highly-respected economist Paul Krugman was criticizing me on misrepresenting a fiscal matter, I think I'd assume his exhaustive understanding of the issue trumped my experience as AG of Connecticut and leave the matter there -- who reads and remembers Paul Krugman anyway? But I am not Joe Lieberman and the guy who is Joe Lieberman clearly believes different tactics are in order. So he wrote in to the New York Times to explain why he was right and Krugman wrong. And that was where it stood until highly respected economist Brad DeLong took up the issue and explained to Lieberman exactly where he was wrong and why his statements made no sense.
  • Gunner's Palace

    Saw Gunner's Palace last night. Like others already have, I recommend you check it out immediately. The film brilliantly succeeds in showing the routinization of life in a war zone, taking pains to neither demonize nor canonize the fresh-faced kids who serve as the stars. Unlike many documentaries, there is no plot, the editors have created no characters and they've taken pains to deny us a satisfying story arc. There's no CG added to create cool visuals, and there are no attempts to tie the movie into a larger political context. It's simply the camera's record of day after day after day in Iraq. Some are good, some are worse. Sometimes the troops show striking patience and compassion, sometimes they throw their quarry on the ground and demand they "shut the fuck up". Sometimes patrols are no more eventful than a stroll to the supermarket, and sometimes mobs form to pelt them with rocks. The soldiers spend a lot of time rapping, playing guitar, play games on the computer, trying to...
  • Schiavo Considered

    Terry Schiavo, if I understand her condition, is an essentially brain dead woman who has languished in a coma for a decade, who shows little to no hope of ever rediscovering consciousness, and who, even if she did snap to attention, would be so desperately brain damaged that she could never function. Her cerebral cortex is gone , replaced by spinal fluid. The main debate about her condition is whether there are a few living tissues left, or whether there are none; in either case, there's nothing near what is required for any level of higher cognitive function. Her condition, short of an act of God, is irreparable, her mental command center gone. And yet, she's been kept alive for 10 years, running through a variety of hospitals and tests and assisted living mechanisms, absorbing an enormous amount of money in what is truly a hopeless cause. So, in the same week that most Republicans voted for Medicaid cuts that would destroy health care for tens of thousands who could use and benefit...
  • Troubles in Sugar Land

    Jesse Lee, writing at the Stakeholder , makes an important point: It's hard to say how many headlines away that day is, but as we've said before, something has certainly shifted. The past week has seen literally a half dozen separate stories written on doubts within the GOP Conference about DeLay. That never happens. And DeLay's bizarre news conference and recent meetings to "assuage" his rank & file are also unusual, and smell of desperation. It's really true. Ten days ago, the DeLay scandals were in the same category as Plame, and the intimidated Medicare actuary, and the 50 other small-bore scandals liberals hoped would undermine the House of Bush but which never seemed find the foundations. At some point in the last week, however, the DeLay's violations, either through new evidence or critical mass of news stories, experienced a phase shift, and now the editorialists are slamming him, the cable shows are dissecting him, the Democrats are planning against him, on and on. That...
  • Legal Questions

    Over at The Corner, John J Miller asks : If somebody put a pistol to Schiavo's head and pulled the trigger--you know, to give the "dying process" a little nudge--would the shooter be guilty of murder under Florida law? If a conservative pundit thought he was being clever but instead made an analogy so flawed that an unwary blogger fell through the logic holes and sprained his brain, can he be sued for criminal negligence?
  • Lessons I Learned Last Night

    Actually, it wasn't last night. Last night was probably my fifth Spearhead show. But if you've not seen them live, you really, really, should. For reasons I don't understand, blogospheric music recommendations are sole property of the Indy Music Alliance, and so all we're ever told is "go see Arcade Fire" or "Death Cab for Cutie is great". Now, I like AF and Death Cab just fine, but none of these skinny white boys with guitars can hold a candle to the six-foot-six force of nature that is Michael Franti. His shows are just mind-blowing. From beat-boxers to Louis Armstrong impersonations to covers to music that has left friends of mine in tears -- no joke -- it doesn't get any better. Ever. What's that you say? You don't know Spearhead? Surely you jest! Well, for you poor souls out there, you can download some of their songs here ("Everybody Loves Music" and "Oh My God" are particularly good choices), or, in less legal venues (actually, iTunes carries them too), you should check out "...
  • Maybe They'll Conduct a Public Exorcism!

    Aren't conservatives supposed to be for, you know, limited government and congressional restraint and states' rights and stuff? Yeah? So tell me how they can possibly justify following up their subpoenas to Major League Baseball with yet more subpoenas stopping doctors from pulling Terry Schiavo's feeding tube and forcing her and her husband to testify before a committee. As Kevin says : It's not just that this is an obvious abuse of congressional power, since subpoenas are designed to compel testimony and Terri Schiavo is obviously not going to testify about anything. What's really nauseating is the almost slavering Republican eagerness to treat Schiavo as a common media spectacle. What are they going to do? Wheel her into a committee room under the klieg lights so the whole country can gape in wonderment at a comatose woman? Why not just set up a circus freak show on Capitol Hill and be done with it? It's weird because I remember their guiding philosophy even as they seem to have...
  • Kaddish for Kennan

    Centenarian George F. Kennan has died. Historically astute readers will know his as the author of the "containment" doctrine, which essentially guided our foreign policy through the Cold War. What most won't know, what I didn't know, is that Kennan felt his strategy significantly overapplied. As he conceived of it, containment was meant to protect a few spots of great national interest, not become a global policy to plug socialism wherever it uncorked. If we'd followed him, then, there would have been no Vietnam, no Bay of Pigs, fewer national embarrassments. It's all quite interesting. So read the LA Times' excellent obituary , it's a history lesson unto itself.

Pages