6.30.2005

Clover Club

This is a sweet drink, and a bit of an effete drink, but after work of a summer's day you might find it to be a neat drink.

6.28.2005

Schwarzenegger bullshit watch (16)

From the SF Chronicle I'm skipping the to-be-sures and on-the-other-hands, as is my right as a smartass.


Draped in a colorful tribal blanket and speaking in an ornate Sacramento auditorium, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced deals with five California casino-owning Indian tribes last summer that he said would bring the state $150 million to $200 million annually.

It was a triumphant moment for the image-conscious governor, who portrayed the new pacts as a campaign promise kept and one more step toward plugging the state's budget deficit.

This month, however, administration officials acknowledged that the state's take has been far less than advertised -- about $18 million, or only 9 to 12 percent of what had been projected. The higher numbers the governor touted were based on assumptions that turned out to be way off target.

For Schwarzenegger, platforms and pledges are splashy and bold, but reality doesn't always match the rhetoric. Schwarzenegger has often announced lofty goals only to dramatically scale back or abandon agendas.

...

[C]ritics say the governor's overly optimistic rhetoric and desire to make a splash have led to the kind of broken promises and unreliable numbers that permanently damage a politician's credibility....Consider some of Schwarzenegger's bolder proposals, and the outcomes so far:

-- Candidate Schwarzenegger, touting his environmentally friendly agenda, wanted to equip half of all new homes built in California with solar power by this year. Instead the governor is sponsoring legislation that calls for 1 million homes and buildings to be powered by the sun -- by 2018.

-- Saying he wanted to take the influence of money out of governing, Schwarzenegger proposed that politicians, himself included, not be able to raise campaign contributions while the state budget is being crafted and voted on. But he has put little of his clout into pushing for legislation to impose fund-raising blackout periods, and he has been a torrid fund-raiser, collecting more than $42 million since winning election.

-- Schwarzenegger made public last summer the 2,500-page California Performance Review, which he said would reinvent government and save taxpayers billions. But most of the proposals to redo state agencies have not been enacted, and one money-saving idea that has -- the state hired a private company to help increase efficiencies in purchasing goods for state departments -- has only saved $4.9 million, not the $96 million it promised.


All this is the Ghost of Bullshit Past. The Ghost of Bullshit Yet To Come visits this fall.

Triste tropes

This can make one feel very small about one's choice of career. (Via Morning News.)

6.27.2005

What Billmon said.

I have been saying this for a long time too. I always think of the person in suburban Atlanta who the Times is trying to get to walk down the end of the driveway every morning:

"Editorial independence (i.e. the freedom to tell the reader or viewer what you think they need to know, rather than what you think they want to hear) has always been a rather strange artifact in a competitive, capitalist industry like journalism. It existed at certain times in certain places, I guess, because certain publishers had the market power (or the idealism; take your pick) to indulge the professional aspirations of the ink-stained wretches in their employ.

But that time is over now, even for the Queen of Times Square. Consumer sovereignty has triumphed. The customer is always right -- not just any customer, but that marginal red-state reader who might think about subscribing to the Times if it wasn't so fucking liberal. And if the customer is always right, then the New York Times is going to make damned sure it's right, too."


When the liberals can put out a tabloid again then maybe things will even up.

6.24.2005

Occasionally

One can't help thinking that the whole problem with this country is that it was founded by people who read Addison and Pope but now populated by people who read Mitch Albom.

6.22.2005

Bleg, or Play America First

In the decadent coastal enclave where I live, specifically on the block of decadent coastal enclave where I live, we're having a Fourth of July party. I thought I'd contribute a little mix of songs about American city or state names, or ones that have them in the title. Like "Dirty Water," or, "Midnight Train to Georgia," or "Dancing In The Streets."

Any suggestions?

Don't bullshit a bullshitter

There's been a lot of Schwarzenskepticism (see here and here and here, for examples). I'm just going on record as not buying it, though I wouldn't mind if it were so. The really good bullshitters make you buy even though you know it's bullshit.

Annals of capitalism

Wall Street Journal, page one:

"The gap between poor and rich in the U.S. has widened over the past 30 years. But people born to modest circumstances are no more likely to rise above their parents' station. The divergent fates of Mr. Hall and his stepson -- and others in this blue-collar city -- illustrate why it can be hard to move up.

Industrial jobs that offered steady escalators of advancement for workers, even if they were only high-school graduates, are vanishing in America. In their place are service-economy jobs with fewer ways up. Unions are scarcer and temporary work more common. In newer service jobs that have come to dominate the U.S. economy, a college diploma is increasingly the prerequisite to a good wage. While increased access to college has been a powerful force for mobility, the share of workers with college degrees remains a minority. Moreover, getting a degree is closely correlated with having parents who themselves went to college."


Wall Street Journal, page one:

Senators are nearing a compromise that would permanently wipe out estate taxes for all but the very wealthiest Americans.

6.20.2005

Something I believe

Orwell ("Road to Wigan Pier") via DeLong:

"Of course the post-war development of cheap luxuries has been a very fortunate thing for our rulers. It is quite likely that fish-and-chips, art-silk stockings, tinned salmon, cut-price chocolate (five two-ounce bars for sixpence), the movies, the radio, strong tea, and the Football Pools have between them averted revolution. Therefore we are some-times told that the whole thing is an astute manoeuvre by the governing class -- sort of 'bread and circuses' business -- to hold the unemployed down. What I have seen of our governing class does not convince me that they have that much intelligence. The thing has happened, but by an un-conscious process -- the quite natural interaction between the manufacturer's need for a market and the need of half-starved people for cheap palliatives..."

Really, for most people, politics is only worth talking about after you've talked about everything else. (I'm like that; I love reading about politics, but hate talking about it.) Now that there is more of everything else in the world, the chances that people will talk about politics and get riled up dwindles.

It's clear, therefore, that we in the entertainment industry have done our part to keep things nice and quiet for rightwing fatcats. And for this service, your money is thanks enough.

6.18.2005

schwarzenegger bullshit watch (15)

Bear in mind, this is the LA Weekly covering his address at Santa Monica College:

" Could the governor stand before a gallery of students and faculty at a humble and underfunded community college and, with a straight face, argue that his initiatives delaying tenure for school teachers and blocking public employee unions from making political contributions -- while he sucks in millions from the Chamber of Commerce -- are going to save Kollyfornia? Maybe it was smarter to avoid the whole subject.

.. A good third of the audience were thumbs-down on Schwarzenegger and as soon as he took the podium, a number of protest signs and banners mushroomed among the raucous audience and the massive heckling ran the course of his address.
To be fair, it seemed that the overwhelming majority of the students would have preferred to doze through the govs speech and not help disrupt their own hard-won graduation. The protesters were primarily outsiders. Some sympathy, then, must go to the graduates who had their ceremony spoiled. They merely got caught in the crossfire of the bloody political war touched off by the governor ordering a special election designed mostly to save his own hide.

Instinct, however, tells me that that rough ride the governor got at SMC is but a small taste of the shellacking he'll get...If Schwarzenegger goes ahead and makes this a war between himself and Big Business on the one size, and the entire national labor movement on the other, it wont be his Iraq, as possible re-election challenger Phil Angelides has suggested -- but rather more like Vietnam.


Wouldn't it be pretty to think so. Instinct, along with the experience of my entire adult life, tells me that it's hard to reverse the greater-than sign that hovers next to "TV personality + big business". In other words, the people, united, have their work cut out for them.

6.16.2005

Wolcott name-check

In his Joan Didion take-down, Wolcottname-checks Renata Adler:

"She's [Didion] maddeningly vague and her language has lost whatever precision it had; worse, her autopsies have none of the structure and momentum that say Renata Adler brings to the form. (Legally trained, Adler knows how to argue a case.)"

When was the last time you saw anything by Renata Adler? (Though I always liked her, my memories of her writing are those of a lad's). Still, I remember coming across a great quote of hers: "Sanity is the most profound moral option of our time."

Never more so than now, dears.

6.15.2005

sudden thought

Could the rise of the evangelism somehow be tied to all the John 3:16 signs you used to see at ballgames?

6.11.2005

Random scrap

For some reason I was reminded of this quote, from Walker Percy:

"Peace is only better than war if peace is not hell, too. War being hell makes sense"

6.08.2005

New job

I was away, as you may have guessed, soaking it up East Coast-style. Summary:

1. "Putnam Country Spelling Bee": great.
2. "Spamalot": one of the few times when you can literally say, "That joke was funny the first hundred times I saw it." But the new material is pretty funny, there just should be more of it.
3. Iced coffee: Somehow better on the East Coast, I dunno.
4: Statue of Liberty: has a huge second gift shop on the island. Somehow this offends me even more than the beyond-airport-quality search you need to get on the boat; you can see the reason behind it, after all, and the cheap irony is a little anesthetizing. The extra hawking is hard to take, though.

Now I'm on a new show; it's an interesting part of this TV business, the starting of an enterprise completely from scratch. And in the room there's a feeling-out process -- each writer wondering what role he or she plays in the ecology of the room. Moreover we know that the real test won't come till the actors come in, weeks from now, and then there'll be the pressure and the late nights. I guess this is like basic training, now, only in basic training agents aren't sending you muffin baskets.

All this is a long way of apologizing for light posting. I'd like to post, really, but the ship needs to right itself.

6.06.2005

Schwarzenegger bullshit watch (14)

My man Michael Hiltzik breaks it down for you:

Democrats Are Seeking Reshuffle in Tax Game :

"Today's crusaders against a hike in the top tax brackets show great solicitude for California's richest residents. The Schwarzenegger line, as it was once outlined for me by his finance director, Tom Campbell, is that these are the people who make decisions about where to build factories, and if they're provoked to leave the state, we're through.

Is this a plausible concern? The average state tax bill of Californians earning between $500,000 and $5 million annually was $85,000 in 2002; if the top rate for all of them were raised to 11%, their average additional tax would come to about $15,000. (I am leaving out the 2,500 taxpayers who reported even larger incomes, because they would push the average misleadingly high.)

It's fair to note that these taxpayers have reaped the lion's share of the Bush tax cuts, which are worth an average $68,000 a year to them, and that their additional state taxes would be deductible on their federal returns.

One oft-overlooked point in the tax debate is the salutary effect on the body politic of spreading sacrifice widely. Schwarzenegger's budgets haven't spread it at all, but piled it on the middle class and the poor. Parents of schoolchildren are dipping into their own pockets to pay for the programs their districts have been forced to eliminate; home healthcare workers are being cut back to minimum wage, which isn't good for them or their clientele; motorists are driving on crumbling highways. These sacrifices might be somewhat easier for them to bear if they didn't see an impregnable wall being erected around the 1% of state taxpayers who report incomes higher than a half-million dollars.

Will these wealthy taxpayers treat a modest tax increase as the last straw, and relocate en masse to the deserts of Nevada? That sounds like a bluff, and I think we should call it."


Word. Why are the business columnists further to the left (i.e. center-right) than the editorial columnists?

6.02.2005

A fellow dreamer

Yglesias in TAPPED:

"I have some less wildly unrealistic (but still pretty damn unrealistic) political reforms I'd like to push (multiple-member constituencies for House elections, unicameral state legislatures, etc.) so perhaps it's best not to waste too much time on this topic."

Unicameral state legislatures are a dream of mine too, for the following reasons:

1. Bicameral legislatures have no reason to exist on the state level.

2. It would eliminate one level of elected offical you know you should know, but don't.

3. By putting more pressure on the one house of the state legislature, perhaps it would also focus attention thereon.

But, alas, this, like the mandatory teaching of Latin in the public schools, will never catch on.