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Consumer Power and the Promise of Negative Branding

By now it’s pretty clear that Republicans are out to steal your lunch money. If they take back the House, it will be two years of committee hearings for Hunter Biden and two more years of festering stasis for the rest of us. So we need ideas, fast. I am one of many who believe at least part of the answer lies in the business world. Corporate America needs to step up. Large corporations have significant financial leverage over Republicans at every level — federal, state, local — and we need them to use that leverage to get us out of this mess, not just for our sakes, but for their own as well. It is inexcusable that hundreds of mega-companies continue to contribute to the campaigns of Republican congressmen who openly denied the 2020 election results. These companies continue, in other words, to finance treason. This is appalling on any number of levels, but let’s start with whether they’re getting their money’s worth. The Republican agenda they underwrite is so corrupt, so co
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Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch

Dear Rupert  (or Lachlan, or whoever’s in charge of FOX these days) : Please help us understand the upside of undermining vaccines. What’s in it for you? What do you gain by giving your viewers information so bad, it literally kills them? Where’s the profit in overloading the entire healthcare system to the point of catastrophic failure? Who benefits from that? Are your advertisers on board with this? Are Ford, Progressive, Bayer, ADT, Sandals — to name but a few — really that eager to kill off their customers? To be sure, they’ve all sheepishly looked the other way while your avatars — Tucker, Sean, Laura — spread their venom through the population. We know they all love reaching the FOX audience — Ford no doubt sells millions of F150s to Trump voters — but how much do they enjoy the aggressive propagation of malignant fictions, aimed at gullible rubes? Especially when those fictions keep their workers out sick and their supply chains in chaos. Which of your

The Trouble with Old White Guys

  In the spirit of the holidays, I’m re-gifting a piece I wrote in late November of the blighted year 2020. Post-election, pre-vaccine, it has nothing to do with the holidays, or even with good spirits. Nor is it especially topical. I’m recycling it mostly because I still like it. It still feels more-or-less true. It isn’t too dated. And I know some of my newer readers haven’t read it. For those of you who have — you know who you are — I invite you to take a second look. No pressure. I had a zoom call the other day with an old friend I’d neither seen nor communicated with in about five years. We schmoozed and caught up and trashed Republicans and shared our amazement over this whole pandemic thing, and then he said something I had to think about: “It’s not a bad time to be old.” Hmm. To be sure, it’s a great time to not struggle in the job market. It’s an excellent time to not worry where your next meal is coming from. It’s a sensational time to not be raising

What’s it Like Out on That Limb, Liz?

Let me start by saying that Liz Cheney is not my favorite person. Heir to Dick Cheney, one of the foulest public figures of the last century, she was born on the wrong side of every issue. Only rarely has she strayed from the toxic values of her father. She voted with Trump 93 percent of the time. Including the $2 trillion tax boondoggle of 2017, which no doubt added a few million to her own estate, and several multiples of that to her daddy’s. That said, one can’t help but begrudgingly look on, with some tiny bit of admiration, at the limb she has intentionally — and with eyes wide open —slithered out on. Unlike the Democrats on the Jan 6 committee — who are only trying to save democracy — Cheney has arguably a more difficult job. She seems to have taken it upon herself to be the one to take down Donald Trump. Or barring that, to exorcise him from the Republican party. Both are tall orders, and to make them happen, she has to work closely with Democrats, whom she despises. And

A Cancer on the Body Politic

We’re approaching what some are calling a “break-glass moment.” Democrats, and the democracy they’re named for, cannot afford the loss of either the 2022 or the 2024 elections. And there’s an excellent chance both will be stolen. The situation grows more poisonous by the day, and we don’t seem to be getting the urgency we need from people with skin in the game. Especially the press, who remain committed to the “both sides are equally bad” narrative. While that narrative is effective at attracting clicks — and advertising dollars — it has also given Republicans cover to indulge their basest instincts, and to launch coup-like operations on institutions that can’t take much more stress. I have lived long enough to witness the long, inexorable degradation of the Republican party. It is no longer a party in the sense we want that word to mean. It has become, rather, a tumor that has already metastasized, and now threatens our very existence as a nation. I do not use that metaphor ligh

Life After Roe is All Question Marks

We now must assume that Roe v. Wade is a goner. It will go down as a massive casualty of a heinous abuse of power, and far from the last such abuse we’ll see in the near future. I don’t see anything standing in the way of a complete overturning, legal precedent be damned. Yes, it’s absurd. Yes, it’s about power for power’s sake. Yes, three quarters of the country is already enraged at such barbarity — though it’s not clear if that matters. But what will a world without Roe actually look like? Beyond the arcane discussions of trimesters and fetal viability, beyond the lurid imagery of handmaids’ tales and rusty coat hangers, what will this actually mean in practical terms? Even with all the media and press attention the issue is now commanding, I’ve seen almost nothing that addresses this. So as I’ve done previously ( here and here ), I’ll feel free to speculate. I might even repeat myself. Keep in mind that overturning Roe won’t make abortion illegal. That will be up to each i

“Every now and then the country goes a little wrong”

What a wonder is a gun What a versatile invention First of all, when you’ve a gun Everybody pays attention When you think what must be done When you think what it can do: Remove a scoundrel, Unite a party, Preserve the union, Promote the sales of my book, Insure my future, My niche in history, And then the world will see That I am not a man to overlook —    Stephen Sondheim, Assassins (1990)   No, these words weren’t written for Kyle Rittenhouse. Or the Proud Boys. Or the Oath Keepers. They were written thirty years ago, to be sung onstage by an actor playing Charles Guiteau, the guy who shot and killed President James Garfield in 1881. Stephen Sondheim has left us, and it doesn’t seem fair. Given all the public figures we can happily do without, we might have been spared losing someone so irreplaceable. In a year filled with bad news, this is in a special category, leaving as it does a gaping hole in the culture.