Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen

Recent posts from our readers forum.
Aug. 16 2000 11:30 PM

Smoke Screen

Subject: What Woodward and Bernstein Ignored

Re:
" Culturebox: Harper's Renata Adler Spectacle"

From:
Conrad Goehausen

Date:
Thu Aug 10  1:20 p.m. PST

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The New York Times has the time and money to publish eight articles attacking Adler, but they can't actually investigate the underlying issue? The issue isn't a petty one. It goes way beyond Judge John J. Sirica's personal reputation. If Sirica was in fact, as Adler has suggested, a secretly corrupt politician aligned to the mob and underground politics, his actions in the Watergate case raise some very interesting questions, such as what forces were actually behind Sirica's unprecedented sentences against those third-rate burglars which forced the story out into the open? Was he really just a righteous judge acting in the interests of "the people," or was there an underlying agenda that Sirica was simply the overt agent of?

I have no sympathy for Richard Nixon or the Republicans, but I do have an interest in the truth behind the newspaper headlines. The notion that there may have been layers of manipulation on both sides of the Watergate scandal that we don't know about, and that the Times and the WashingtonPost didn't grasp, makes for a truly interesting story. True, Adler's charges about Sirica are speculative, but they are not baseless at all, and actually appear to be the most obvious explanation for the facts at hand in Sirica's book.

[For an unedited version of this post, or to reply, click here.]

Subject: Target's Democratization of Shopping



Re:
" Moneybox: Ad Report Card—Target"



From:
Dedalus



Date:
Tue Aug 8  9:48 a.m. PST

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Combined with the "upscale-for-the-down-to-earth" angle that was mentioned, there's another engine at work in Target's ads: the synthesis of verbal and visual brand analogies. It reinforces the idea of one-stop shopping, and thus is essentially democratic. Meaning: you might be really hip wearing those flood pants, but yah still gotta wash 'em, right? You're sexy and thin enough for that bikini, but don't forget to Tum ...Tum-Tum-Tum your way out of that bloating, so you can fit into it. The aspects of exclusivity, of "hipness" are merged with the quotidian. If everyone is together in eating Tums and washing with Tide, then we can all look good enough and be sensible enough to buy inexpensive bikinis and flood pants in one place, and not have to spend more money driving across town to buy your Tums in privacy.

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Subject: Gimmicks Can't Beat Willpower



Re:
" Shopping: Kicking Butts"



From:
Brian



Date:
Tue Aug 8  4:48 p.m. PST

The article is interesting but unfortunately it reinforces what I consider to be a number of sad stereotypes and poor excuses. Right out of the box let me say that I have smoked Camel filters for about fifteen years, like the author. The first thing wrong with the smoker in question is that he is reaching for all the gimmicks. This tells me one thing: he's already decided he can't really quit on his own. That single failing of willpower is going to doom him. Even if he quits now, with patch, gum, or whatever aid, a few months from now something will stress him out, he will get in a fight with his girlfriend, whatever, and he will be back on the smokes.

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I think one of the things that makes it paradoxically much more difficult for smokers to quit is that they are told over and over again how hard it will be. It almost amounts to brainwashing, and it works. Many smokers are convinced they'll fail the moment they try quitting.

[For an unedited version of this post, or to reply, click here.]

Subject: Golden Parachutes—White Collar Extortion



Re:
" The Book Club: The White Sharks"



From:
Dilan Esper



Date:
Tue Aug 8  2:21 p.m. PST

Nell Minow's defense, in principle, of "golden parachutes" (that big payments to departing executives are necessary to give them an incentive to fairly evaluate the effect of a proposed merger on the company, rather than declining an efficient merger in order to save the executives' own hides), ignores the moral dimension of the issue. "Golden parachutes" constitute, in essence, bribing executives to ensure that they comply with the law and discharge their fiduciary duties to shareholders. These payments raise issues of both ethics and distributive justice.

First, the executive has an ethical duty (as well as a legal one) to protect the interests of the shareholders whom he or she works for, whether or not the executive is bribed to do so. The shareholders are basically the victims of extortion—they must pay the executives to do what they are already legally and morally required to do, else the executives will not discharge their duties. Morally, there is no difference between such a payment and "protection money" charged by the local gangster.

Second, it is a gross violation of the principle of equality when laws aimed at theft by the rich are enforced through a payment to the would-be thief in exchange for compliance with the law, while compliance with laws aimed at theft by the middle and lower classes is enforced with the threat of jail time. Do we pay pickpockets not to steal? So why are the rich different from the rest of us?

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