Friday, December 30, 2005

Oh, to own our own little cafe...

A delightful essay on what it is to open a coffee shop--wait! Not just a coffee shop, a cozy, warm cafe that seats 25 and serves Vienna coffee and delicious French pastries:

We started out by engaging a pedigreed gentleman baker with Le Bernardin on his résumé. Hercule, as I'll call him, embodied every French stereotype in existence: He was jovial, enthusiastic, rude, snooty, manic-depressive, brilliant, and utterly unreliable. His croissants were buttery, flaky, not too big, and $1.25 wholesale. We sold them for $2 and threw away roughly 50 percent—in other words, we were making a negative quarter on each croissant. After a couple of months of this, we downgraded to a more Americanized version of the croissant (vast and pillowy). The new croissants ran 90 cents each and made us feel vaguely dirty. We sold them for the same $2. Ironically, their elephantine size meant that every time someone ordered a croissant with cheese, we had to load it up with twice as much Gruyère.

Coffee was a different story—thanks to the trail blazed by Starbucks, the world of coffee retail is now a rogue's playground of jaw-dropping markups. An espresso that required about 18 cents worth of beans (and we used very good beans) was sold for $2.50 with nary an eyebrow raised on either side of the counter. A dab of milk froth or a splash of hot water transformed the drink into a macchiato or an Americano, respectively, and raised the price to $3. The house brew too cold to be sold for $1 a cup was chilled further and reborn at $2.50 a cup as iced coffee, a drink whose appeal I do not even pretend to grasp.

But how much of it could we sell? Discarding food as a self-canceling expense at best, the coffee needed to account for all of our profit. We needed to sell roughly $500 of it a day. This kind of money is only achievable through solid foot traffic, but, of course, our cafe was too cozy and charming to pop in for a cup to go. The average coffee-to-stay customer nursed his mocha (i.e., his $5 ticket) for upward of 30 minutes. Don't get me started on people with laptops.

There was, of course, one way to make the cafe viable: It was written into the Golden Rule itself. My wife Lily and I could work there, full-time, save on the payroll, and gerrymander the rest of the budget to allow for lower sales. Guess what, dear dreamers? The psychological gap between working in a cafe because it's fun and romantic and doing the exact same thing because you have to is enormous. Within weeks, Lily and I—previously ensconced in an enviably stress-free marriage—were at each other's throats.

Luckily, their marriage was saved by a bankruptcy a few months later. Sorry to clip so much, but it's a good and fun read.

Home decor

How to decorate on the cheap by the New York Times: "An open dining-kitchen area that is free of status appliances." It also appears to be free of any appliances.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Are you happy?

Quit asking yourself that and maybe you will be! At least that's the conclusion of a couple of op-eds in the NYT's today.
The poet Theodore Roethke had some insight into the matter: "Self-contemplation is a curse / That makes an old confusion worse." As a psychologist who conducts research on self-knowledge and happiness, I think Roethke had a point, one that's supported by a growing body of controlled psychological studies.

What can we do to improve ourselves and feel happier? Numerous social psychological studies have confirmed Aristotle's observation that "We become just by the practice of just actions, self-controlled by exercising self-control, and courageous by performing acts of courage." If we are dissatisfied with some aspect of our lives, one of the best approaches is to act more like the person we want to be, rather than sitting around analyzing ourselves.

I once wanted to be beautiful, so I decided to pretend to be beautiful and walked in a manner that I thought a beautiful woman would walk. I picked up this idea from a social psychology theory I'd learned in college. It seemed to help me feel prettier.

Here's the advice from another columnist on the same theme:

So in these last days of 2005 I say to you, "Don't have a happy new year!" Have dinner with your family or walk in the park with friends. If you're so inclined, put in some good hours at the office or at your favorite charity, temple or church. Work on your jump shot or your child's model trains. With luck, you'll find happiness by the by. If not, your time won't be wasted. You may even bring a little joy to the world.

Both columns ring true to me and echo Dr. Phil's "behave you way to success" mantra. I've often found too much time on my hands as the domestic person in my family and my thoughts naturally turn inward. I regularly have to give myself a good kick in the pants to start looking outward again. This contrasts sharply with my working life when my time was so filled up that I could barely squeeze in all my chores.

Right now my free time hinges on the baby's nap. He's twenty minutes into his third hour, doubling his regular naptime because he's working off a cold. My daughter is distracted by a playdate, hence, I have more time to blog.

(Via Althouse.)

Did Bush lie?

The Chicago Tribune's verdict: "After reassessing the administration's nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege."

Their reluctance for siding with the president is palpable, but I think typical for many in their industry who do side with him. (Via Instapundit.)

Update: Edited for clarity.
Stupid sister

Here's a guy who's mad as hell at his addict sister and not gonna take it anymore. (Via Althouse.)
Dad on a crime spree

If it were your dad, would you turn him in?
Time to make the doughnuts

But who will do it now? (Via Jay Tea.)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Off for a few days...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Spying on American citizens

On warrantless searches, the president's deputy attorney general said,
The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes...and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General.

"It is important to understand," [she] continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."

Gotta problem with that? Tell it to her boss, President Clinton! That's right--that was Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, after the case of CIA spy Aldrich Ames.

Egads, not enough coffee and cookie dough in the house to save me now!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My world is completely rocked!

Via Instapundit, we find a new report on media bias from the UCLA:

Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Only Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and The Washington Times scored right of the average U.S. voter.

The most centrist outlet proved to be the "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown" and ABC's "Good Morning America" were a close second and third.

"Our estimates for these outlets, we feel, give particular credibility to our efforts, as three of the four moderators for the 2004 presidential and vice-presidential debates came from these three news outlets — Jim Lehrer, Charlie Gibson and Gwen Ifill," Groseclose said. "If these newscasters weren't centrist, staffers for one of the campaign teams would have objected and insisted on other moderators."

The fourth most centrist outlet was "Special Report With Brit Hume" on Fox News, which often is cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet. While this news program proved to be right of center, the study found ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" to be left of center. All three outlets were approximately equidistant from the center, the report found.

(Emphasis added.) Actually, I already knew the WSJ was liberal in it's news section. First of all, they run a lot of AP wire stories, but secondly, as a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, I know some of the names floating around the bylines, and whereas I rarely talked politics with any of my classmates, one could sense the liberal-leanings.

The article (press release?) states they skipped the editorial and op-ed pages for the purposes of this study; I presume they skipped the commentary section of Special Report, which skews heavily to the right, and occasionally crankily so.

Biggest surprise? Drudge Report leans left!
Merry merry joy joy

I've got nothing going on today. Not an iota of an idea to post about. Could write about this whole government-spying-on-its-citizens hullaballoo, but it might necessitate the word "Orwellian," and as anyone who follows the comments section at Dr. Helen knows, I'm sick of that word! Also, it would involve a great deal of research, probably some legal reading, and you know I don't have time for that.

So what have I time for? Well, the Christmas cards are out, or at least in the mailbox this Sunday afternoon. The bedroom is painted a lovely La Fonda Sombrero, or as we fashionless people call it, orange, and the new curtains are hung, evergreen silk dupioni. They match our comforter.

My neighbor, Shannon, and her fourteen-year-old son, just brought by Christmas cookies and gifts for the kids. Joe has sat for us a couple of times and I thought my daughter might have scared him off by being very chatty. Like two hours worth of four-year-old girl chat! He watched my kids one late morning while I went to a doctor's appointment, and he looked very tired when I returned. I give my sitters leeway to use the television, but he couldn't figure out how it worked, so he had Emma to entertain him nonstop.

He's sat for us once since then and turned us down twice, I think. I'm amused by the gifts from Joe. Shannon is clearly teaching him how to market himself. We tend to call sitters day of, which puts us at a disadvantage for securing one. Earlier this year, a new family moved in next door with a daughter in her freshman year of high school; she's become my number one sitter because she knows how to talk to adults. She talks like an adult. She apologizes when she can't accept a job, thanks me for calling and asks me to call again.

I was floored by this maturity as it lacks in my other sitters. Frankly, I wasn't aware of its existence. My other two sitters are very nice kids, but they mumble on the phone and in person. Give 'em a year or so and they'll lose that bashfulness, but I still go with Katharine when given the chance. She's from "the country," as her mom puts it--Georgetown, a town north of Austin, population 28,000. Her mom worries that Katharine might get taken advantage of here in the big city of Flower Mound, population, 60,000.

I think she'll be all right.

Anyway, Shannon's other son is in the fifth grade and recently delivered to us a tub of gourmet cookie dough that we'd purchased to help fund his class camping trip this spring. The cookies Shannon and Joe brought over look suspiciously like they came from a very similar tub of cookie dough.

You see how the Christmas season works, don't you? It's a community conspiracy to put and keep weight on you.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

White House Press Briefing Tiff

NBC's David Gregory refuses to take no for an answer, which, at some point, seems kind of unprofessional to me. Here's the part of the transcript via E&P:
Q Scott, the President told Brit Hume that he thought that Tom DeLay is not guilty, even though the prosecution is obviously ongoing. What does the President feel about Scooter Libby? Does he feel that Mr. Libby --

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. First of all, the President was asked a question and he responded to that question in the interview yesterday, and made very clear what his views were. We don't typically tend to get into discussing legal matters of that nature, but in this instance, the President chose to respond to it. Our policy regarding the Fitzgerald investigation and ongoing legal proceeding is well-known and it remains unchanged. And so I'm just not going to have anything further to say. But we've had a policy in place for a long time regarding the Fitzgerald investigation.

Q Why would that not apply to the same type of prosecution involving Congressman DeLay?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you we had a policy in place regarding this investigation, and you've heard me say before that we're not going to talk about it further while it's ongoing.

Q Well, if it's prejudging the Fitzgerald investigation, isn't it prejudging the Texas investigation with regard to Congressman DeLay?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think I've answered your question.

Q Can I follow up on that"? Is the President at all concerned that his opinion on this being expressed publicly could influence a potential jury pool, could influence public opinion on this in an improper way?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that in this instance he was just responding to a question that was asked about Congressman DeLay, about Leader DeLay, and in terms of the issue that Peter brings up, I think that we've had a policy in place, going back to 2003, and that's a White House policy.

Q But that policy has been based in part, in the leak investigation and other things, on the idea that it is simply wrong for a President to prejudge a criminal matter, particularly when it's under indictment or trial stage. Why would he --

MR. McCLELLAN: And that's one -- this is an ongoing investigation regarding possible administration officials. So I think there are some differences here.

Q There are lots of times when you don't comment on any sort of legal --

MR. McCLELLAN: There are also legal matters that we have commented on, as well. And certainly there are legal matters when it goes to Saddam Hussein.

Q So the President is inconsistent?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, we put a policy in place regarding this investigation --

Q But it's hypocritical. You have a policy for some investigations and not others, when it's a political ally who you need to get work done? [Bystander: that seems true of most politicians.]

MR. McCLELLAN: Call it presidential prerogative; he responded to that question. But the White House established a policy --

Q Doesn't it raise questions about his credibility that he's going to weigh in on some matters and not others, and we're just supposed to sit back and wait for him to decide what he wants to comment on and influence?

MR. McCLELLAN: Congressman DeLay's matter is an ongoing legal proceeding --

Q As is the Fitzgerald investigation --

MR. McCLELLAN: The Fitzgerald investigation is --

Q -- As you've told us ad nauseam from the podium.

MR. McCLELLAN: It's an ongoing investigation, as well.

Q How can you not -- how can you say there's differences between the two, and we're supposed to buy that? There's no differences. The President decided to weigh in on one, and not the other.

MR. McCLELLAN: There are differences.

Q And the public is supposed to accept the fact that he's got no comment on the conduct of senior officials of the White House, but when it's a political ally over on the Hill who's got to help him get work done, then he's happy to try to influence that legal process.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, not at all. Not at all. You can get all dramatic about it, but you know what our policy is.

Go ahead, Paula.

Q I do have a question about White House ethics guidelines --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people understand.

Q No, they don't. And the only thing that's dramatic is the inconsistency of the policy and you trying to defend it.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, the policy has been in place since 2003.

Go ahead, Paula.

Q I have a question about White House ethics guidelines which is outside the scope of the Fitzgerald investigation. I'm not talking about criminal offense. Last week, Robert Novak, in a public speech, said that reporters should be asking the President who the anonymous source is because he believes he knows. And my question is, was it ethical to change the grounds of dismissal from "anyone involved" in the disclosure of classified information, to "anyone convicted" in the disclosure of classified information? And if the President did not take action privately, is it ethical for him not to have done anything?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I've indicated, our policy hasn't changed on this matter.
What if he'd said, "It's unethical, Paula, but we decided to do it anyway," and then he ran out of the room laughing wildly? What kind of answer do reporters expect on these non-informational questions? The ethics of the administration are to be judged by the people, not the press secretary, so asking him what is or is not ethical seems only to serve the venting of the reporters' frustration at being disappointed with the reality of what it is to be a part of The White House press pool.
From WSJ reporter to Marine

Found this to be inspiring and amusing:

But living in China also shows you what a nondemocratic country can do to its citizens. I've seen protesters tackled and beaten by plainclothes police in Tiananmen Square, and I've been videotaped by government agents while I was talking to a source. I've been arrested and forced to flush my notes down a toilet to keep the police from getting them, and I've been punched in the face in a Beijing Starbucks by a government goon who was trying to keep me from investigating a Chinese company's sale of nuclear fuel to other countries.

When you live abroad long enough, you come to understand that governments that behave this way are not the exception, but the rule. They feel alien to us, but from the viewpoint of the world's population, we are the aliens, not them. That makes you think about protecting your country no matter who you are or what you're doing. What impresses you most, when you don't have them day to day, are the institutions that distinguish the U.S.: the separation of powers, a free press, the right to vote, and a culture that values civic duty and service, to name but a few.

I'm not an uncritical, rah-rah American. Living abroad has sharpened my view of what's wrong with my country, too. It's obvious that we need to reinvent ourselves in various ways, but we should also be allowed to do it from within, not according to someone else's dictates.

The next morning I found myself roaming around the belly of the USS Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier museum moored a few blocks from Times Square, looking for a Marine recruiting station and thinking I'd probably lost my marbles. The officer-selection officer wasn't impressed with my age, my Chinese language abilities or the fact that I worked for one of the great newspapers of the world. His only question was, "How's your endurance?"
Well, I can sit at my desk for 12 hours straight. Fourteen if I have a bag of Reese's.
It's a good read.
Go purple

Iraqis go to the polls and an embedded reporter wakes up:

Think about everything you’ve heard about the conditions in Iraq, the role of U.S. forces, the multi-layered complexities of the war.

Then think again.

I’m a journalist. I read the news everyday, from several sources. I have the luxury of reading stuff newspapers don’t always have room to print. I read every tidbit I could on Iraq and the war before coming.

Everything I thought I knew was wrong.
(Via Vodkapundit.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Torture, propaganda, the ACLU...phew! I'm exhausted!

How many homicides have been committed at the hands of our soldiers and after that number is reported...

On October 24, the ACLU made public an analysis of several dozen autopsy reports and related documents obtained from the Pentagon by means of a Freedom of Information Act request for records concerning foreigners detained in Afghanistan and Iraq. The deaths-in-custody of 44 such detainees were detailed in those documents, according to the ACLU's press release and accompanying explanatory chart. According to the original documents themselves--which are posted on the ACLU's website--the actual number of deaths involved appears to be only 43. But never mind about that. More to the point--the intended point being, in the words of the press release, that "U.S. operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogation"--was the contention that the Pentagon itself had labeled 21 of these 43 deaths "homicide."

That number wasn't even close to accurate. The documents show that military medical examiners attributed 19 of the 43 deaths to natural causes, 2 others to factors as yet "undetermined," called one further death an "accident," and left the "manner of death" box in 8 case files entirely blank. There were 13 official "homicides," not 21. And documents associated with at most 5 of those homicides contain even the vaguest hint of possible wrongdoing by American personnel. The other 8 appear to have been "homicides" only in the technical sense that mortuary physicians use the term--to indicate any nonaccidental death resulting from human agency, whether sinister or innocent.
...does it matter whether or not that number is accurate?

But one of the examples I suggested to Matt was the propensity of the US media to run as “news” the news releases of various interest groups with a pointed political agenda (The anti-gun lobby comes to mind)—which is the dissemination of propaganda in almost the same sense that the US military is accused of disseminating information during their psyops information campaign. The difference is, what the US military put out was largely factual, and it was done in service of fighting a war and, presumably, saving US lives by beating back negative propaganda put out by the enemy (not to mention to combat long-cultivated anti-US feeling in the region).

For its part, the ACLU was certainly guilty of engaging in an intentional anti-war propaganda incident by having knowingly releasing faulty and inflamatory data. But how do we respond to the media who ran with the ACLU’s press release as if it were verified hard news?

[ACLU link added.] Did MSM run a bunch of stories on this? It's been so long since I regularly checked the NYT's or WaPo or ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN that I'm unqualified to answer, but I'll take it for granted that they did. You know why? Because I have a media bias. That's why!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Citizen journalist

Sometimes I find a webpage up on my computer that I don't remember clicking on. Must be my toddler manipulating the mouse, trying to be like Mommy. Today he landed on an Amazon page promoting a book by NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen called What Are Journalists For?. One of the reviewers remarks,
The title of Jay Rosen's excellent new book is deceptively complex, especially in the absence of the colon embedded in most academic titles. "What are Journalists For?" asks two questions: What is the utility of journalists and what do they stand for. What are journalists for? Rosen argues, among other things, that journalists should be _for_ democracy.
It's about a movement called public or civic journalism. Huh. I may have to buy myself a birthday present!
A festivus for the rest of us!

Reasons for conservatives to be mad at the Republican Party, starting with repeal of the death tax!
(Via Instapundit.)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Breaking News

I got a press release from McClain, Leppert & Maney, P.C., the law firm representing former Enron employees trying to recover $20 million handed out in bonus packages just before Enron declared bankruptcy. The United States Bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas held in favor of the employees.

[Disclosure: my sister is an attorney there.]

Having witnessed the birth of his two children, my husband might be skeptical of this finding about redheads:
As a result, redheads can withstand up to 25 percent more pain than their blond and brunet peers do before saying "stop."
My dad has a red mustache--I wonder if he's included in this group! (Via Althouse.)

[Update: edited for clarity.]

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Go purple

[Egads--where's my editor? That'll teach me to post on the fly!] Where Wear a purple finger for freedom on Dec. 12. (Via Bill Bennett.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Yes, this is the wayI feel too sometimes:
The great empty part of the day. I imagine this is how my mom felt after lunch, when I’d gone back to school. (In my day, in faraway Rockwell Land, kids walked home for lunch then walked back.) The radio keeps you company, there are things to do, but you feel that sudden loss of purpose that comes with not being needed. Not being useful. You stare at the trees outside the window. You wipe down the sink faucet. Ah well.
Except I just surf the net.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fox news

Did Fox News bend to the will of a major shareholder? Via Roger Simon.
Story placement

The other night on Special Report, a member of the panel joked that bad economic news goes on the front page of The Washington Post; good economic news on the front page of the business section of The Washington Post. Turns out it was funny because it was true. I found this via Tim Graham, who calls it "bias by placement, or displaying your news preferences by putting stories you like on Page A-1 and putting stories you’re not as eager to promote somewhere else."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Let's hope so

W. Thomas Smith Jr.:
"The training centers are not only turning out good soldiers, but the Iraqi people are also viewing those soldiers — and the Iraqi army overall — in a different light," U.S. Army Col. Michael Cloy, the senior military adviser for the 2nd Iraqi Army (Light) Infantry Division in Mosul, tells NRO. "Iraqi civilians see the new Iraqi army as servants to the people: Not a force that will abuse them, or steal them away in the night never to be seen again."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Good night

Well, the children are fed to the best of our abilities, the kitchen is cleaned, except for the stains of coffee, fruit punch gatorade and all that the baby has eaten in the last week on the floor under the table. What could be swept away has been.

Got Bing crooning through the speakers, the wreath hung and the lights strung. We are Christmas a-go-go. The tree comes next weekend, after the birthdays. Not a lot of blogging this weekend and not a lot next week, but all for good healthy reasons. We'll be off to South Texas for a family wedding and returning Sunday, bums sore and moods, patient, I hope, after an eight-hour trip.

I'm off to join the family in the living room. The fire is lit and the Christmas books are brought down from the attic--a whole new world to explore tonight. See ya.


Dad: A snowman--yes! What else can you make out of snow?

Daughter: Uh ...a snow deer!

Cracked me up.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Higher Education

New post two down, just below "Jourdanton" because I started it yesterday, but couldn't figure out how to manipulate the time stamp.

1963 dress

I have this beautiful dress of my mother's in my closet and I'm attending a wedding next week where my daughter will be flower girl and my husband a groomsman. The dress is obviously a spring dress, but I thought since the wedding is in South Texas and the weather will probably be warm, maybe I could pull it off. Mom wore it to her sister's wedding. Since their own mom had passed away, she assumed the mother-of-the-bride spot. She was pregnant with my older brother at the time.

Not easy to breathe for me in this dress! Mom and I are about the same height, but she must have been smaller than me. Once when I was in my early twenties, weighing something like 120 pounds, I tried on a pair of her jeans, from the late 40's or early 50's, called ranch pants. There were too tight for me to wear! It was an astonishing revelation because I always thought she and I were built so similarly. It never occurred to me that she might be a size smaller, especially because both of us are about 5' 7 1/2".

Anyway, I wore this dress when I was about 21, and it fit beautifully. Alas, no longer. I must put it away for my little flower girl to wear one day. I think the color will be beautiful on her.

Another city councilman to step down.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Higher education

When I understand what she's writing about, I love Jane Galt, who I think is really named Meagan McCardle because that's what Glenn Reynolds calls her, though I've never seen it clarified anywhere.

She asks,
Why does it matter whether education is functionally useful, or merely a signalling mechanism that tells employers you're a good risk? Because if education actually increases people's skills, then society can increase economic productivity by sending more people to college--at least if we assume that there are people not currently attending college who have the cognitive gifts to benefit from higher education.
I guess we could send more people to college if education is functionally useful, but then would society pay for business school, but not liberal arts schools? My liberal arts education doesn't seem to have been at all useful for me out in the non-educational working world.

But then how much education does it take to spritz people in malls with perfume during the holidays. Okay, it was never that bad, though back in my airline days, we used to joke it was almost that bad.

What did an English major a major in English do for Jane?
to be honest, what an undergraduate English major did was "teach me to regurgitate the political opinions of my professors in essays ostensibly about literature". This is not a skill that I have been called upon to use since in either my personal or professional lives. I learned to think critically in business school, five years later, and only after I'd already acquired substantial logical problem-solving ability through troubleshooting computer networks for years.
Grad school--In my case I wish those Stafford loans had come with a warning in bold letters. WARNING: MAY CAUSE DOUBT IN SELF, OTHER STUDENTS AND WORLD.

Check out the post. Her commenters make some pretty educated remarks themselves.

I'm too busy to sit down and watch, let alone too tight to purchase, these Wal-mart documentaries talked about in the blogosphere. Why Wal*Mart Works and why that makes some people C-R-A-Z-Y! (2005) and it's nemesis Wal-mart - The High Cost of Low Price (2005). But that doesn't mean I'm not going to weigh in!

Via Byron York Democratic Leadership Council's Ed Kilgore who writes,
In the southern small-town, rural and exurban communities I know best, and among the low-to-moderate income "working family" voters Democrats most need to re-attract, Wal-Mart is considered pretty damn near sacrosanct. And if Democrats decide to tell these voters they can't be good progressives and shop at Wal-Mart, we will lose these people for a long, long time.

Maybe it's different in...other parts of the country, but probably not too widely. And I defy you to find a credible political strategist in states with a big Wal-Mart presence who will tell you otherwise.

If you think we've been damaged as a party by culturally conservative working-class perceptions of us as people who want to take their guns away, you ain't seen nothing yet if we become perceived as the party that wants to take Wal-Mart away. Indeed, it's the one thing we could do, other than espousing actual racism, that might finally give Republicans a breakthrough among minority voters, who heavily shop at Wal-Mart where the option's available.
I'd say that's about right. When my brother and I traveled the states back in the nineties, in his '77 rusted-out Datsun, we never passed a Wal-mart, stopped at everyone. It's a good, familiar spot for the weary traveler to find cheap needed items.

Now an old, middle-aged mom, I choose Target over Wal-mart given the opportunity, mostly for the aesthetic quality that a reader to Instapundit points out. Their aisles are much narrower and jammed full compared to Target. I go to Wal-mart eager to leave before I've purchased what I came for, but I leave Target, after having purchased things I didn't come for.

But when I'm visiting relatives in the more rural sections of Texas, baby Wal-mart is the place to go! There is a smaller grocery store in Jourdanton, but my husband's aunt recently bought some bad meat there and has switched to the only competition in town--Wal-mart. After church on a Sunday--that seems to be a busy time for them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Out on the playground
Look at what I started

Marc Cooper clarifies himself:

Readers of this blog know that I’ve been pretty tough on National Review’s little Jonah Goldberg, the intellectual fly-weight the L.A. Times has acquired as an affirmative action hire to fill-its "right-wing pundit" quota.

It seems I have hurt his feelings and he was pouting about it today over on NRO’s Corner (scroll down to see his item). Jonah was offended, in part, by my reference to him as a "shout-show clown."

He now corrects me, writing without a trace of irony: "I haven’t been on a "shout show" in years and I turn them down all the time."

My apologies. Henceforth I will more accurately refer to him as a "former shout-show clown."

Mr. Goldberg also wishes to know why I would brush him off as "illiterate" and "ahistorical" just because he wrote an op-ed piece arguing that Bush is little different than FDR as the latter also lied — to get us into WWII.

I suppose here I must begrudingly make another correction, or at least a clarification. It was not merely on the basis of that one piece that I questioned Jonah’s brain-power. What I had in mind was his most recent book. It’s an intellectually cartoonish tome titled…are you ready?…

"Liberal Fascism : The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton"

The publisher describes this piece of work in the following way:

Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg shows that the original fascists were really on the Left and that liberals, from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton, have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism.

So, yes, Jonah. Tut tut. Describing someone who argues that Wilson, FDR and Hillary Clinton are the real heirs to Hitler and Mussolini as "illiterate" and "ahistorical" is a tad unfair. Reconsidering, I think "just plain stupid" would do. No?

An extraordinarily childish tone of voice from Cooper. Too bad. Funny thing is in an exchange in the comments section, he's much more reasonable:

You know Im going to agree that the Right has no monopoly on whack-jobs and there are certainly a number of them at HuffPo.

As to Jonah.. yes he was trying to be nice. And I admit I wasn’t. But those are the ground rules of this game… you stick ur neck out as a public commentator and all is fair.

Jonah seems like an affable and even-tempered fellow (even I am in real life). But, really, his book is beyond the pale Woody. If he wants to rag on liberals, and seriously or even mirthfully deconstruct them, that’s fine — more power to him. But to posit that FDR, who crushed the Nazis, is actually himself an heir to the thinking of the Third Reich, or that Hillary Clinton descends from Mussolini, well..then…he really can;t be hurt when people call him stupid. Because that stuff is REALLY stupid. I dont even think he believes that crap. He just knew, or his mommy the literary agent guessed, that this book would be a great gimmick and a bestseller among the Red Meat Right and he plain cynically did it for the money knowing full well he was full of crap.

I like the Cooper of the comments section better than the Cooper in the original post; I find him more persuasive. I haven't read Goldberg's book, so it's tough to comment, but yeah--conservatives cry out when liberals compare Bush to Hitler; I should think liberals would do the same in the converse. Maybe I'll read the book.

Eh--maybe not.

PS I'm annoyed by Cooper's use of bold in his posts.

Althouse has not given up blogging, my computer had given up refreshing itself. Stuck in cache, I guess. Now if only I could get stuck with some cash...ah, but that's another post-holiday post.