Thursday, June 06, 2002

The Poor Man seems to have attracted a little attention with his point-counterpoint comparison of the position of bloggers Steve den Beste and Glenn Reynolds on global warming (it's not real) with that of the Bush administration and noted enviro-skeptic Bjorn Lomborg (it is).

Let's try it.

Point (den Beste): "One thing that many in the US and over seas have found maddening about this administration is its frankness."

Counterpoint: New Republic cover story: "Much of the time [press secretary Ari] Fleischer does not engage with the logic of a question at all. He simply denies its premises--or refuses to answer it on the grounds that it conflicts with a Byzantine set of rules governing what questions he deems appropriate. Fleischer has broken new ground in the dark art of flackdom: Rather than respond tendentiously to questions, he negates them altogether."

Further counterpoint: The administration's endless flipflopping on the value of negotiations with the Palestinians. You could argue (as den Beste has) that this is part of some elaborate "rope-a-dope" scheme to discredit Arafat --- though I personally find that argument ludicrous. But call it Metternich or call it Larry, Moe and Curly, you can't call it frank.

Point (Robert Musil): For people who are already wealthy, a mere $500,000 a year extra (the compensation of the Enron board) would not tempt them to malfeasance; why would anyone that rich risk jail time for a little more cash?

Counterpoint: The arrest of L. Dennis Kozlowski, a former executive of Tyco (a firm itself under investigation for shady accounting practices) for an elaborate scheme to evade the sales tax on paintings by Monet, Renoir, and others which he bought for more than $15 million; the scheme involved shipping empty boxes to Tyco headquarters. Kozlowski's other assets include the $18 million apartment that housed the paintings, and shares in two professional sports teams.

Further counterpoint: Nora Ephron's experience on a corporate board: one on the board, not one person --- not even the "qualified" ones who could read balance sheets --- had a clue the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. And when they heard, when the president of the company told them?about an hour into an otherwise excruciatingly boring board meeting?that the company was about to go bankrupt, and he'd known about it for several weeks and hadn't bothered to pick up the telephone and call any of them, they went nuts. And then they all went back to their offices and let the investment bankers and lawyers clean up the mess.

Easy and fun...


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