Deficit Hawks Should Be Honest

Of course it isn’t shocking that the deficit hawks that want to cut Social Security don’t give two wits about the damage the BP oil spill causes to future generations and the costs that today’s actions are incurring for them. Sarcastic cynicism aside, Dean Baker is right when he writes, “[deficit hawks] just want to cut Social Security and the other programs that allow ordinary working people to enjoy a decent standard of living.” There isn’t anything larger than a hatred of participating in a society that has a social safety net built by the entire nation. On one level, there isn’t anything wrong with having ideological differences with American social safety net policy. But the deficit hawks should be honest about these differences. They aren’t concerned with future generations – they just don’t want there to be Social Security, neither now nor in the future.

Obama Should Listen to Obama

State Senator Barack Obama, on Bill Clinton’s pursuit of bipartisanship, in 1996:

“On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection,” Mr Obama said.

Yep, this is right. I wonder what the President thinks about this statement now.

Via Matt Yglesias.

Critical Perspective?

It’s great that an anonymous oil industry insider writes to TalkingPointsMemo to say he thinks BP is doing a swell job, but should the rest of us care? Yes, having someone who understands it beyond reporters for the Times or CNN provide perspective is useful. But we are at a point where industry experts have noticeably failed from top to bottom. They failed to due their due diligence about how to safely drill in this location, at this depth. They failed to use proper techniques to make sure the well was properly dug. They failed to handle changes in pressure. They failed to stop the rig from exploding and killing eleven people. They failed to build a kill valve that worked. They failed to initially contain the leak. They failed to accurately measure how much oil was spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. They failed to deploy oil booms correctly. To this point, a month after the initial disaster, the experts in the oil industry have not stopped the leak, though things are finally looking better.

Most of the expertise in offshore oil drilling lies with the oil industry. I get that. But I don’t really give a damn about how public criticism, scrutiny and outrage offends these experts, who really, honestly, they swear are doing all they can to fix this crisis. They fucked up and they have to be accountable for that. Some of that accountability is going to come while the disaster is ongoing and there damned well better be more accountability once the leak is stopped and mere millions and millions of gallons of oil are poisoning the Gulf.

In the mean time, I don’t care about anonymous oil industry insiders’ perspectives, when that perspective is that the criticism of them is wrong and they are really good people.

The Dalai Lama Talks with Chinese Citizens

This is incredibly interesting. On May 21st the Dalai Lama held an hour-long question and answer session, a “free dialogue,” with Chinese citizens. The event was organized by Chinese intellectual Wang Lixiong and questions were submitted through Twitter and ranked on Google Moderator. Chinese authorities shut down the page in China, but hundreds of questions and thousands of votes had already been cast, allowing the dialogue to move forward. Perry Link of the New York Times has translated the session from Chinese into English.

What is incredibly interesting to see is which questions were promoted by Chinese citizens as questions they want the Dalai Lama to answer, ranging from succession for the Dalai Lama to how Han Chinese living in Tibet would be treated if Tibet where to gain real autonomy. As always, the Dalai Lama offers thoughtful, good-faith answers to tough questions. The exchange is definitely worth a read.

A Lot In A Little

My good friend and former co-blogger Austin sends along this dissection of a piece from Ezra Klein that is so sharp that I feel the need to post…Take it away Austin:

Ezra Klein just published a post that has so much going on in it that exemplifies the state of the world, US politics, and the media, that I just had to pass it along:

Full text:

Normally I’d tweet something this short and trivial, but since Twitter appears to be blocked in China, I’ll just blog it: Wedding Crashers, which I watched on the plane, is a much more plausible-seeming moving [sic] in the post-Salahi era.

Let’s break that down:

“Normally I’d tweet something this short and trivial…”

This is a reporter/blogger/twitterer/newsweekly writer. He recognizes that all three are important, and that each has its own role.

“but since Twitter appears to be blocked in China”

The greatest threat to oppression is the free flow of ideas; China is oppressive.

“I’ll just blog it”


“Wedding Crashers, which I watched on the plane”

No comment really, other than for a guy up to date on everything, this is an odd, weak movie choice.

“is a much more plausible-seeming moving” [He means movie]

No, it isn’t.

“in the post-Salahi era.”

Our media have made politics so, so small that even jackasses get an era.

Seriously, in the New Media Matrix, that’s a Neo-quality posting.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

As Eric Boehlert points out, it should not be surprising to anyone that when Clark Hoyt, public editor of the New York Times, responds to the paper’s horrendous reporting on Dick Blumenthal’s military record that he would defend the paper and excuse admitted mistakes. I don’t know Hoyt’s politics or why it is that he has shown a great willingness to be responsive to Republican criticisms of the paper while simultaneously explaining away anything critique Democrats raise. But when I wrote him last week, I knew that the odds of him actually doing his job and policing his paper’s journalism were slim to none.

Matt Gertz also takes apart Hoyt’s defense and finds more inconsistencies and holes in the piece. At the end of the day, the point of the Times’ original reporting was that Blumenthal had a “long and well established pattern of misleading his constituents about his Vietnam War service.” But everything that we have seen since the story was printed is that this is not, in fact, true. Hoyt has done nothing to reconcile his paper’s reporting with the work done over the last week by the Connecticut press that flatly undercuts the Times’ central thesis. Quite simply, there is no long-standing pattern, no systemic misleading, and not permanent public falsification of his record. Blumenthal has now apologized for the times when he misspoke, which is certainly the right step to take for the few instances when he did so, but the real apology should be coming from the Times for their inaccurate smear of Mr. Blumenthal, a military veteran and man who has served the American public for most of his life.