Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Most of these critics have in mind some idealized image of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. To wit, "a good, merry winter celebration with the tree, the turkey, and the presents, customs mostly borrowed from pagan traditions." Compare Bill McKibben's description: "Christmas is a school for consumerism—in it we learn to equate delight with materialism. We celebrate the birth of One who told us to give everything to the poor by giving each other motorized tie racks.” This reflects a certain cynicism, but at least it is not blind to the way in which Christmas is super-saturated with the imperative to buy, buy, buy. The point is put with neutral understatement on Wikipedia's page on Christmas: "Christmas has become a major event for many retailers."
Against this frenzy of consumerism Festivus was born according to the Seinfeld episode:
- Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
- Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
- Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
—Rod Blagojevich, 12/19/08
The legal right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty does not apply outside the courtroom. Let me repeat that: if you are not the judge or the jury in Blagojevich's criminal case, the presumption of innocence doctrine is irrelevant and has no bearing on what you say or think. Outside the courtroom, you are allowed to make judgments about the guilt or innocence of the accused, and to profess your views any way you like, make signs, go on television, whatever. The presumption of innocence, as Dick Cavett reminds us, "has nothing whatever to do with you and me. We can talk, write, broadcast and even put up a billboard (if so foolish) stating that the accused is the one who did it. It has to do with our system. If you find yourself accused of a crime, you do not have to prove your innocence. The burden is on the other side. The prosecution has to prove your guilt. That’s about it. And it is not even a rule of law. It is a rule of evidence, relevant only to the judge and the jury."
—Make one-half of VEBA payments in the form of stock.
—Eliminate the jobs bank.
—Work rules that are competitive with transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.
—Wages that are competitive with those of transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Nicholas Kristof takes account of the scene in these words:
And frankly it is discouraging to see the way the system so often elevates particular families into politics, generation after generation, because of their names, bank accounts and Rolodexes. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are self-made exceptions, but we now have a president who rose in part because of who his father was, and there are many such cases. After all, Beau Biden seems poised to succeed Joe Biden in the senate from Delaware, once his military service is completed. Ken Salazar’s senate seat from Colorado may be filled by his brother John. And here in New York State, we have a governor who is a second-generation politician who is choosing a senator from among such front-runners as a woman who is the daughter of a former president and a man who is the son of a former governor.Here's a Letter to the Editor worth noting from a reader of the NYT on the subject:
To the Editor:
It is amusing that Andrew M. Cuomo, who owes his whole career to his dad, may not get the Senate seat of Hillary Rodham Clinton (who owes her whole career to her husband) because David A. Paterson (who owes his whole career to his dad) may give it to Caroline Kennedy (who owes her whole career to her dad).
You would think a state as large as New York could find someone who deserves something on his or her own.
Westfield, N.J., Dec. 16, 2008
Update: I might have spoken too quickly. Apparently Vilsack is on record as opposing tariffs imposed on Brazilian sugar based ethanol which is much more efficient than corn based ethanol. I still think this nomination is less than optimal but maybe it is not as bad as I initially thought.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Case in point: his interview with Candy Crowley which aired on CNN today. He said:
"You know, the military looks at the president and wonder whether or not the president's going to make decisions based upon victory. Or, whether or not the president would be making decisions based upon its political skin. And if you ever make decisions based upon your political skin where troops are in harms way, you as commander-in-chief will have a lot of problems keeping the respect of the military."
Frank Rich isn't the only one who knows that this is a total lie - many in the military know this as well. Rich writes:
It was all too predictable that even when the administration was forced into rebuilding Iraq, it would time every pivot point, from the creation of a constitution to the scheduling of elections, to deadlines dictated by Rove's political goals at home (whether a State of the Union speech or a domestic election), rather than to the patience-requiring realities of forging a post-Saddam government. That cynical priority was what had dictated the timing of the rollout of the product in the first place: it wasn't a mushroom cloud that was imminent as the White House pressed for a congressional resolution in the fall of 2002, it was the midterms....Shouldn't it have raised alarms that a war was being rushed on an arbitrary and reckless timetable that was in sync with an American election campaign? (222)
Journalist Crowley: have you not learned anything about the ways of this White House? Shame on you for letting the President's remark pass without question as though it were true.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Later on November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that his decision about the open Senate seat will be based on three criteria in the following order of importance: “our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon on that. Legal. Personal. Political.”Not mentioned by Blagojevich is the criterion of merit or ability for holding the open Senate seat, nor is there any regard for what would be beneficial for Illinois, or anybody outside his own family. He seeks only men and women of wealth with the right connections who will help him bring honor and benefit to his own family. The main cause of this corruption is the ambition of Blagojevich to get himself put in higher offices or in a position to make a lot of money after he leaves office, and to do either one of these things he desperately needs to avoid impeachment as governor, which would take away his reputation. But now that his foolish ambition is out in the open, he'll have great difficulty forging an alliance with anyone.
For a brief "readers guide" to the criminal complaint, go here.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
The downturn offers some insight into the forces behind the recycling boom of recent years. Environmentally conscious consumers have been able to pat themselves on the back and feel good about sorting their recycling and putting it on the curb. But most recycling programs have been driven as much by raw economics as by activism.
Cities and their contractors made recycling easy in part because there was money to be made. Businesses, too — like grocery chains and other retailers — have profited by recycling thousands of tons of materials like cardboard each month.
But the drop in prices has made the profits shrink, or even disappear, undermining one rationale for recycling programs and their costly infrastructure.
“Before, you could be green by being greedy,” said Jim Wilcox, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. “Now you’ve really got to rely more on your notions of civic participation.”