Archive

  • THE PERILS OF...

    THE PERILS OF READING WHEN TIRED. Yesterday, I wrote that Arnold Kling 's book failed to define the terms "very poor" and "very sick." Today, he writes that "In the simulation of my proposals in the chapter on matching funding to needs, I define poor as below the poverty line and I define very sick as having annual expenses over $5000 for the non-elderly and over $20,000 for the elderly. " He's right -- I'd missed it on my first read-through. Mea culpa. --Ezra Klein
  • IT AIN'T ABOUT...

    IT AIN'T ABOUT HARRIS. I'm pretty sympathetic to the point Jon Chait raises in his terrific piece on Katherine Harris : Now that the GOP spin on Harris is replete with admissions that she's a few crayons short of a full box, shouldn't that force them to reconsider the legitimacy of her decisions during the 2000 recount? In other words, if Harris is nuts, then why trust that in 2000 she was sane. Maybe Bush did lose. The problem is Jon seems to counteract his own thesis in the article. As he writes, Harris was ignorant of election law and completely incapable of making these decisions. So the GOP sent in a ringer: Republicans close to Bush dispatched J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, a veteran Florida Republican lawyer well-versed in election law, to serve as Harris's close adviser. From that point on, decisions became more decisive and uniformly pro-Bush. When asked by the Post if he was coordinating his decisions with the Bush campaign, Stipanovich tellingly refused to offer a denial. Harris...
  • REALITY TV AND UNION-BUSTING.

    REALITY TV AND UNION-BUSTING. For years now, I've been telling anyone who'll listen that reality television isn't just bad aesthetics -- it's union-busting. Initially, the idea was simply to come up with programming that didn't involve unionized writers because it actually didn't involve writers , thereby allowing the networks to better-immunize themselves against the threat of a strike. More recently, it's reached absurd heights where you have "reality" shows that actually do employ writers, just not unionized ones covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Campus Progress has a good article up about how this is playing out behind the scenes of America's Next Top Model . Let me also add that while America's entertainment unions don't involve especially large numbers of people and their actions don�t have especially dramatic implications for the American economy as a whole, they do have a certain significance. Specifically, the success of the Writer's Guild of America, the Screen...
  • WHERE THE PATIENTS HAVE TAKEN OVER.

    WHERE THE PATIENTS HAVE TAKEN OVER. Now, it is important to remember here that Sean Hannity has already proved himself incapable of experiencing combat with an opponent any more vigorous than Alan Colmes . So we should probably be grateful that Sean has found a cause for which he�s willing to lay down his life. In a more sensible media universe, of course, anyone who said something this preternaturally idiotic into an open microphone -- Kyra Phillips made far more sense accidentally earlier in the week -- would be patted gently on the head, handed a complimentary company pen, and sent off toward the commissary with the rest of the tour group from the nervous hospital. Is there nobody at FOX who looks at the people who say things like this and wonders, "How in God's name did I end up in this monkey house?"? --Charles P. Pierce
  • FRODO'S FATE.

    FRODO'S FATE. Last week, philosophy doctoral student and ethical werewolf Neil Sinhababu argued against the conception of personhood and moral status advocated by Ramesh Ponnuru in his book The Party of Death . Neil concluded that to adopt Ponnuru's outlook would be "to shrug at the enslavement of hobbits, the slaughter of kittens, and the destruction of all life beyond earth." Now Ponnuru has responded with an article of his own (he says Frodo 's safe), and Neil has responded to Ponnuru in turn. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • GLOBAL WARMING: THE GOOD NEWS.

    GLOBAL WARMING: THE GOOD NEWS. I wrote earlier this week about the clever name change that persuaded lots of people to open farms on the Great American Desert Plains. The greatest climate-nomenclature scam of all time, however, was run by Erik the Red , who named the ice-bound island he discovered "Greenland." At the time, the world climate was warmer than it is today, and Greenland, though very cold, did actually support some marginal agricultural production and dairy farming. Consequently, he got a bunch of Vikings to move out there and build a settlement. A few hundred years later, it got colder and all the Norse settlers wound up dead. Nowadays, though, thanks to the munificence of fossil fuel consumption, the world is heating up again. And, according to Der Spiegel , it's getting warm enough to farm Greenland once again . Sadly, way more people live in the destined-for-devastation portions of the world than in the looking-forward-to-less-permafrost portions of the world. It's...
  • CLEAN, GREEN, AND...

    CLEAN, GREEN, AND POPULAR. Let's just take a moment to enjoy this description of Big Business� reaction to this major piece of legislation in the glorious Golden State: Business interests, especially oil companies, were irate and said they felt abandoned by the Republican governor, who had pledged to work for a bill they could support. They accused Schwarzenegger and Democrats of cobbling together behind closed doors a haphazard bill that could create unintended economic chaos. Ahhh. What a difference a few years makes. Remember when it was Cheney and the Big Business interests working behind closed doors to cobble together an energy bill that padded their pockets and accelerated our ecological decline? Yeah, me too. Anyway, this a Schwarzenegger film, top to bottom. Conscious of the perils of running for reelection in California, he's playing up the issue area where his progressive impulses appear genuine: environmentalism. In recent weeks, he's sought a compact with Tony Blair on...
  • POLITICS AS POLITICS.

    POLITICS AS POLITICS. Have I ever mentioned that I hate baby boomers? Sometimes I think this is irrational on my part. Then along comes Andrew Rosenthal 's infuriating contribution to today's New York Times editorial page. In essence, he went to hear Crosby , Stills , and Nash play, started thinking about the old Crosby, Stills, and Nash shows he's seen, waxes nostalgic about the sixties, and demands to know why the kids these days aren't as awesome in terms of mounting an anti-war movement as the kids were back in his day. Well, what's happened is that a broad coalition of boomers who've managed to grow up, along with the vast swathes of the American public either too old or too young to have been at Woodstock, are trying to avoid the catastrophic mistakes made by the anti-war movement in the late 1960s. Specifically, we're trying to not link the war question up with a broad countercultural movement that managed to become less popular than the war itself. Specifically, rather than...
  • I LOVE IT...

    I LOVE IT WHEN YOU POLL ME. There are some interesting results in the new AP/Ipsos poll (PDF). Only a bit over 40 percent of Americans worry about "becoming a victim of terrorism," and the vast majority say they do so only "occasionally" (hell, living in D.C., I'd fit into that category too). That's compared to 56 percent who simply don't fret over the prospect. And only 25 percent think D.C. and New York are more dangerous vacation destinations than before 9-11, while 14 percent think they're safer. Fifty-nine percent of Americans approve of the way Bush has handled terrorism, a stat that makes me think he's not been as successful at connecting Iraq to terror as he had originally hoped. Indeed, when an interviewer asked him last week what Iraq had to do with 9-11, he said "nothing," an admission by the administration that Iraq is now so unpopular that linking the two would poison public feelings on Bush's terrorism chops, not lighten attitudes towards Iraq. All that said, Democrats...
  • THE TWO AMERICAS.

    THE TWO AMERICAS. Charles Barkley , all-time great undersized power forward and potential politician, takes on America's inequality problem: "America is divided by economics. It's the rich against the poor. And the gap is widening. We've got to find a way to uplift poor people. It shouldn't be the haves vs. the have-nots." Sounds good to me. It always seems a little goofy, but at the end of the day I think it makes sense to try and recruit charismatic celebrities to run for office. Barkley on religion ("Religious people in general are so discriminatory against other people, and that really disturbs me") probably isn't going to sell very well at the polls, though I appreciate the sentiment he's trying to express. --Matthew Yglesias

Pages