As a young girl from Anoka, I was shocked at the level of security in Israel. We worked on the kibbutz from 4 am to noon. We were always accompanied by soldiers with machine guns. While we were working, the soldiers were walking around looking for land mines. I really learned a lot in Israel.
Am I the only one who finds that kind of… unsettling?
Very good, long story in this week’s NYT Magazine about the decline of manufacturing in the US. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there about lithium-ion batteries and the future of the electric car business, but the biggest takeaway for me is that because “industrial policy” is a dirty word, we now have an economy structured around industries like software and finance that don’t employ nearly as many people as manufacturing, so that even if GDP does start growing, it won’t translate into nearly as many jobs as it should.
It’s kind of like basing a stimulus plan on tax cuts for the rich, in other words. Or basing an election campaign on appealing to independent voters instead of the base.
1 commentAugust 29th, 2011 at 07:40amPosted by Eli
Looking for another way to give desperate people false hope and pretend to solve the problem while actually just benefiting corporations? I know! Let’s let people on unemployment work for free and call it “training”!
Ezra Klein explains that Obama couldn’t possibly have done a better job, what with his miniscule majorities in both houses of Congress and all. I particularly like the part where he suggests that Obama would have been less popular and the 2010 bloodbath would have been worse if Obama had passed an effective stimulus and generally done more to live up to his campaign promises.
Because the American people just hate strong politicians who get results, especially when they don’t act like corporate tools. That’s why FDR was only able to get elected 4 times. Well, that and dying.
Apparently the teabaggers are basically just rebranded Republican theocrats. If they’re political independents, it’s only because the Republican Party isn’t sufficiently suffused with right-wing religious fanaticism.
But the joke’s on them, because now they’re even less popular than the religious right, and even atheists and Muslims. Why, they’re even less popular than Obama’s record on the economy, and that’s saying something.
The Tea Party really is the best hope Obama and the Democrats have next year – that they nominate more unelectable crazies like Sharron Angle, Linda McMahon and Christine O’Donnell, and that voters turn against the teabaggers that they elected last year. Lesser of two evils is pretty much all they have going for them next year, so they’re going to have to be pretty damn lesser to overcome the enthusiasm gap (who could have predicted that the party that strokes its base would get better turnout than the party that kicks theirs?).
1 commentAugust 18th, 2011 at 08:08amPosted by Eli
Of course, there’s absolutely no possibility that they might have legitimate grievances, or that most of “the top” that they’re so “focused on tearing down” has been motivated by nothing more than selfishness and greed, and has been buying politicians for years to avoid participating in any of the “shared sacrifice” being heaped on the poor, the working class, the sick, and the old.
Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures “with no apparent esthetic value” is within Long Beach Police Department policy.
McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery.
“If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery,” says McDonnell, “it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.” McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.
McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.”
Wow. I have been run off by cops and security guards before, and even told that I was not allowed to take photos of the PPG buildings above eye level(!), but detainment? For taking pictures with no “apparent esthetic value”? That describes roughly 90% of every picture I’ve ever taken. In fact, the photo that got Wolff detained looks uncannily like it could be one of mine.
Remember, when they outlaw cameras, only outlaws will have cameras. Or something.
1 commentAugust 15th, 2011 at 08:01amPosted by Eli
The NYT recently revived Obama’s old quote from early in his presidency that he would rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president, in the context of talking about what he has to do to turn his presidency around before he’s up for re-election. But really, that only makes sense if you buy the premise that he hasn’t been a good president, which can only be properly evaluated if you know what his goals are.
There is room for agreement between the two views, however: Regardless of whether Obama is a successful Republican or an unsuccessful Democrat, he has been an absolutely miserable politician who has demoralized his own base, alienated independents, and done nothing to win over Republicans. (Well, actually, he’s done quite a lot to win over Republicans, but none of it has worked.) And the economy and employment situation is still terrible, although I suppose that could also be considered a matter of perspective – the wealthy are still doing fine, if not better, but the overwhelming majority of the electorate are not feeling very secure.
So is Obama a good president or a mediocre one? I think the answer mainly depends on how much money you have. Is he a one-term president or a two-term one? I think the answer mainly depends on how crazy the Republican nominee is.
1 commentAugust 11th, 2011 at 07:42amPosted by Eli
Representative Joe Courtney, Democrat of Connecticut, said he had “read and reread the S. & P. report” several times since it was issued Friday night, and he said it could spur action by Congress. If the 12 members of the committee, to be appointed by Aug. 16 by Congressional leaders of the two parties, could agree on a deficit-reduction package, and if Congress approved it, Mr. Courtney said, “that would surprise a lot of skeptics” and could disprove the company’s criticism of the United States political system.
Representative Blake Farenthold, a freshman Republican from Texas, said the S.&P. report could have a beneficial effect. “Anything that encourages the new committee to get the job done and get us back on a rational fiscal path is a good thing,” Mr. Farenthold said.
Another freshman Republican, Representative Steve Southerland II of Florida, said the credit report created “a sense of urgency for the two parties to come together.” The possibility of a further downgrade “scares me,” Mr. Southerland said.
Go team! Let’s show S&P who’s boss! By doing everything they tell us to!
And really, who can blame them? Both parties got their shot at running the government, and both parties failed miserably because they cared more about their corporate and wealthy donors than the people they were elected to serve.
There is definitely room for a third party (although it would really be more like a second party at this point), but not if it’s just a corporate “centrist” party positioned between the other two corporate parties. The only kind of third party that’s going to gain any traction would be a populist one that promises to represent ordinary people instead of corporations and the wealthy.
I agree with a lot of this Peter Daou post, especially about how the right has effectively stepped into and taken advantage of this country’s information and education vacuum, and how the left is hobbled by the lack of any kind of common cause between the progressive movement and the Democratic Party. But I’m not so sure I buy his diagnosis of the root cause:
On the other side you have the Democratic establishment, political leaders, pollsters and strategists who, by and large, are poll addicts, chronically incapable of taking principled stands, obsessed with appealing to independent voters, hostile to progressive advocates, often just as captive to moneyed interests as their Republican counterparts. Mind-bogglingly, it was the White House and Democratic leadership that worked with BP to ‘disappear’ the Gulf spill, for fear it would harm them in the 2010 midterms. Craven doesn’t begin to describe it.
As I said previously, faced with a public that holds opposing views, politicians can either change their positions to match the public’s views or change the public’s views to match their positions. Only when Democrats decide to do the latter will America’s rightward shift be halted or reversed.
I believe that Obama and most of the Democrats are actually Republicans masquerading as weak Democrats, and all the poll-driven, center-chasing wimpiness is camouflage to make their pro-corporate policies look like some kind of pragmatic (albeit misguided) centrism rather than the corrupt sellout that they actually are.
On a related note, I think it’s hilarious that the White House keeps complaining that progressives aren’t doing a good enough job of selling the American people on the Satan sandwiches they keep offering up, when the real problem is that we can’t convince the White House to stop making them.
3 commentsAugust 4th, 2011 at 07:53amPosted by Eli
Republicans will still be able to refuse to raise taxes. But if they do, it won’t matter. The only way they can succeed in keeping taxes from rising is if the Obama administration and the Democrats stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them to extend the Bush tax cuts.
Srsly? Did you not see what happened last December???
In the winning column, he lists Mitch McConnell, the Tea Party, Obama, the Congressional Budget Office, Grover Norquist, and – I’m not kidding – David Wu.
In the losing column, he lists Congress, the Gang Of Six, commissions, and liberals.
Missing from either list: The economy or the American people. Just like they were missing from all the political calculations and posturing by Obama and the Tea Party, who collaborated to produce a terrible deal that will make the country weaker and maybe even increase the debt it was supposed to reduce.
You also have to love this little snippet of DLC-style conventional wisdom:
But remember that Obama’s target constituency in 2012 is not his base but rather independent and moderate voters. And those fence-sitters love compromise in almost any form.
Yep, there’s nothing independents and moderates love more than politicians with no convictions at all (I personally believe Obama is a strong Republican masquerading as a weak Democrat, but the appearance is the same). And of course they always turn out in droves, not like a motivated Democratic base would.
I understand that most politicians – and much of the media who cover them – are corrupt, shallow, self-centered creatures, and it’s folly to expect them to always put the good of the country first. But couldn’t they at least think about it a little bit?