Archive for the ‘Washington Post’ Category
The Washington Post really doesn’t like the Social Security program for some reason, and they constantly run opinion pieces on how the program should be cut. Dean Baker points out the (abysmal) quality of reasoning displayed in one such column:
How Much Money Do You Need to Get an Op-ed in the Washington Post?
That’s what readers of Jim Roumell’s column on wealth-testing Social Security must be asking. The column, “the rich can save Social Security by giving up their checks,” gets almost all its facts wrong, and suffers from huge problems of logic.
The basic idea is that we have some very rich people who don’t need Social Security, therefore there shouldn’t get it. Of course these people did pay for their Social Security. While Roumell is certainly right that the very rich don’t need the money, they generally wouldn’t need the interest on the government bonds they own. We could also deny them the interest on these bonds, that would make as much sense as Roumell’s proposal on Social Security, but let’s not get bogged down in such moral considerations.
Roumell sees large savings if we deny Social Security to the rich:
“According to the Wall Street Journal, the top 1 percent of the United States’ 115 million households have a net worth of $6.8 million or greater. The top 5 percent have a net worth of $1.9 million or greater. If just the top 1 percent of wealthiest households gave up their Social Security income, assuming two-thirds of these households are of retirement age and will receive benefits averaging $30,000 a year, more than $200 billion would be saved in the first 10 years. That would contribute greatly to resolving the projected funding gap. If Social Security is gradually phased out for the wealthiest 5 percent of households, beginning with just a 10 percent benefit reduction, the savings climbs to nearly $500 billion over 10 years.”
Let’s see, two-thirds of the top 1.0 percent are over age 65? Where exactly did Roumell get this one? Has the Washington Post heard of fact checking?
If we eliminate Social Security for the wealthiest 5 percent, then we would be eliminating benefits for household with incomes of around $80,000 in their retirement. That’s a new definition of “rich.” It was $400,000 a year when we talked about small increases in tax rates.
But the best part of the story is trying to envision what Roumell’s wealth test even would look like. People tend to accumulate wealth during their working lifetime and spend it down as they approach retirement. How do we monitor people’s wealth? Do we do annual assessments of the value of their stock portfolios, their home and vacation properties, personal items like expensive paintings and jewelry? Then if they cross the magic $1.9 million threshold at any point in their lives we put a permanent hold on their Social Security benefits?
The long and short is that Roumell’s proposal is completely unworkable as anyone who has given it a moment’s thought would recognize. But hey, he wants to go after Social Security and he has a lot of money, why not give him a column in the Washington Post?
Unfortunately for the war hawks, the nerve gas (sarin) whose use is suspected in Syria was used by the rebels, not by the government. So as a causus bellus for attacking the Syrian government, it doesn’t work so well—but that hasn’t slowed the demand from war from those who pushed the Iraq War (“Weapons of Mass Destruction!!!!!”). And yet war really hasn’t seemed to solve any of the problems, but rather created more. (Of course, austerity as an economic policy has proved an utter failure, but still there are those who clamor for it—mainly those who will not feel its effects.) Robert Parry reports at ConsortiumNews.com:
Israel’s bombing raids into Syria appear to have shattered whatever restraint remained in Official Washington toward the United States entering the civil war on the side of rebel forces that include radical jihadist elements. On Monday, the Washington Post’s neocon editors weighed in for U.S. intervention as did former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.
Both the Post’s editors and Keller also were key advocates for invading Iraq in 2003 – and their continued influence reflects the danger of not imposing any accountability on prominent journalists who were wrong on Iraq. Those tough-guy pundits now want much the same interventionism toward Syria and Iran, which always were on the neocon hit list as follow-ons to Iraq.
The Post’s lead editorial on Monday urged U.S. intervention in Syria as part of a response to a growing regional crisis that one could argue was touched off – or made far worse – by President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.However, rather than trace the crisis back to Bush’s invasion of Iraq – which the Post eagerly supported – the editors lament the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq and President Barack Obama’s hesitancy to intervene in Syria. Noting the renewed sectarian violence in Iraq, the Post’s editors write “it also makes intervention aimed at ending the war in Syria that much more urgent.”
Meanwhile, across the top half of Monday’s Op-Ed page in the New York Times, Keller urged any pundit chastened by the disastrous Iraq War to shake off those doubts and get behind U.S. military intervention in Syria. His article, entitled “Syria Is Not Iraq,” is presented in the same “reluctantly hawkish” tone as his influential endorsement of aggressive war against Iraq in 2003.
Keller’s special twist now is that he is citing his misjudgment on Iraq as part of his qualifications for urging President Obama to cast aside doubts about the use of military force in Syria’s chaotic civil war and to jump into the campaign for regime change by helping the rebels overthrow Bashar al-Assad.
“Frankly I’ve shared his [Obama’s] hesitation about Syria, in part because, during an earlier column-writing interlude at the outset of the Iraq invasion, I found myself a reluctant hawk. That turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy,” Keller wrote. “But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.”
For the rest of the lengthy article, Keller baited Obama by presenting him as something of a terrified deer frozen in mindless inaction because of the Iraq experience. Keller quoted hawkish former State Department official Vali Nasr as declaring that “We’re paralyzed like a deer in the headlights, and everybody keeps relitigating the Iraq war.”
Keller then added: “Whatever we decide, getting Syria right starts with getting over Iraq.”
No Lessons Learned
But Keller doesn’t seem to have learned anything significant from the Iraq catastrophe. [In fairness, Keller has shown no signs that he's even capable of learning. - LG] Much as he and other pundits did on Iraq, they are putting themselves into the minds of Syria’s leaders and assuming that every dastardly deed is carefully calibrated when the reality is that Assad, like Saddam Hussein, has often behaved in a reactive manner to perceived threats.
Assad and many other Alawites (a branch of Shiite Islam) – along with many Christian Armenians who remain loyal to Assad – are terrified of what might follow a military victory by the Sunni majority, whose fighting forces are now dominated by Islamic extremists, many with close ties to al-Qaeda.
As the New York Times reported in its news page last month, the black flags of Islamist rule are spreading across “liberated” sectors of Syria. . .
Here’s a more detailed description of Howard Kurtz’s sloppy … well, I hesitate to call it “journalism”. At any rate, Alex Pareene in Salon:
Update, 1:00 pm ET: The Daily Beast announced it is retracting Kurtz’s column.
Howard Kurtz had a bad day yesterday. He wrote this whole column calling out Jason Collins, the NBA player who this week came out as gay, breaking a major American sports barrier and quickly becoming a widely celebrated and admired figure, for not telling readers of his Sports Illustrated piece that he once had a (female) fiancée. Except, one little problem with the entire concept of the piece: Collins explicitly wrote that he’d once been engaged in his Sports Illustrated piece. It took a few minutes for the Internet to point out this titanic error. Then, the the column was altered, without a correction, to say that Collins “downplayed one detail” instead of “left one little part out.” Finally, a proper correction was appended.
But Kurtz was defiant! Despite the central detail underlying the argument of his column being incorrect, Kurtz’s point stands, says Kurtz!
We should all be so grateful to have legendary media critic Howard Kurtz around to police coming-out narratives.
The “Daily Download” video of Kurtz joking about Collins is probably more embarrassing than the Daily Beast column — the phrase “playing both sides of the court” is used — which is likely why it was taken down. You can see it at BuzzFeed orGawker still.
This is, easily, Kurtz’s worst error since the time he accidentally invented a conversation with a member of Congress. But while that one seemed like a truly weird circumstance, involving a massive misunderstanding, this one seems like the natural result of a lazy hack thoughtlessly weighing in on the news without actually thinking (or reading the article he was weighing in on). (Also does the Daily Beast not have editors anymore? They still have Photoshoppers!)
Speaking of people not telling the whole story, Kurtz has a slightly mysterious relationship with the Daily Download, which is apparently a real website and not the name of a fictional blog invented for a “Law & Order” episode. Kurtz is on the “Board of Advisers” for that site and writes (and appears in videos) for them constantly. As Michael Calderone reports, Kurtz plugs the site like crazy, tweeting links to the Daily Download six times more often than he tweets links to the site he actually works for, the Daily Beast. Kurtz says the board position is unpaid, so who knows what’s even going on there. But he is in a lot of bad, dumb videos that no one watches, except when the videos become controversial because Kurtz said stupid things.
Howard Kurtz is a media reporter, though he is often mistakenly referred to — and hired to act as — a media critic. As a media reporter, he is well-sourced. He is also an experiment in how many potential conflicts of interest one highly successful journalism professional can walk around with without ever having to change a single thing. For years he was supposed to cover the media — including, say, CNN — for the Washington Post, while also hosting a show on CNN. (He was also covering the media — including, say, the Washington Post — for CNN.) His wife is a professional flack who once worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kurtz has interviewed his wife’s clients on his show. . . .
Howard Kurtz—”Howie” to his friends, if any—is the worst of hacks, and regularly lies, misreports, slants, and deceives: the epitome of the person without principle. Robert Parry has a profile in farewell—though of course Kurtz will bounce back up: corporations always need shills.
For nearly a quarter century, Howard Kurtz has served as hall monitor for Washington’s conventional wisdom, handing out demerits to independent-minded journalists who don’t abide by the mainstream rules. So, there is some understandable pleasure seeing Kurtz face some accountability in his ouster as bureau chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
However, the more salient point is that Kurtz, who continues to host CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show, should never have achieved the level of influence in journalism that he did. Throughout his career, he has consistently – and unfairly – punished journalists who had the courage to ask tough questions and pursue truly important stories.
When one looks at the mess that is modern journalism in the United States, a chief culprit has been Howard Kurtz. Yet, his downfall did not come because of his smearing of fellow journalists – like Gary Webb and Helen Thomas – but rather from a blog post that unfairly criticized basketball player Jason Collins after he revealed that he was gay.Kurtz faulted Collins for supposedly not revealing that he had once been engaged to a woman, but Collins had mentioned those marriage plans. Twitter exploded with comments about Kurtz’s sloppy error. On Thursday, The Daily Beast retracted the post, and the Web site’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown announced that Kurtz would be departing.
However, Kurtz has committed far more serious offenses during his years destroying the careers of journalists who dared make life a bit uncomfortable for Official Washington’s powerful elites. For instance, Kurtz played a key role in the destruction of investigative reporter Gary Webb, who had the courage to revive the long-suppressed Contra-cocaine story in the mid-1990s.
Working at the San Jose Mercury-News, Webb produced a multi-part series in 1996 revealing how cocaine that was smuggled into the United States by operatives connected to the Nicaraguan Contra war of the 1980s had contributed to the “crack cocaine” epidemic that ravaged U.S. cities. Webb’s articles put the major U.S. news media on the spot because most mainstream outlets had dismissed the Contra-cocaine allegations when they first surfaced in the mid-1980s.
My Associated Press colleague Brian Barger and I wrote the first story about the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1985 and our work was met with a mix of condescension and contempt from the New York Times and the Washington Post, where Kurtz worked for many years. Even after an investigation by Sen. John Kerry confirmed – and expanded upon – our work, the big newspapers continued to dismiss and downplay the stories.
It didn’t matter how much evidence was developed on the Contra-cocaine smuggling or on the Reagan administration’s role covering up the crimes; the conventional wisdom was that the scandal must be a “conspiracy theory.” Journalists or government investigators who did their job, looking at the problem objectively, risked losing their job.
Journalistic up-and-comers, such as Michael Isikoff (then at the Washington Post), advanced their careers by focusing on minor flaws in Kerry’s investigation rather than on major disclosures of high-level government complicity with drug trafficking. Newsweek’s “conventional wisdom watch” mocked Kerry as “a randy conspiracy buff.”
So, when Gary Webb revived the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1996 by pointing out its real-world impact on the emergence of crack cocaine that ravaged inner cities across the United States in the 1980s, his stories were most unwelcome.
At first, the mainstream news media tried to ignore Webb’s work, but African-American lawmakers demanded investigations into the scandal. That prompted a backlash from the major news organizations. Webb’s articles were dissected looking for tiny flaws that could be exploited to again discredit the whole issue.
On Oct. 4, 1996, the Washington Post published a front-page article knocking down Webb’s series, although acknowledging that some Contra operatives indeed did help the cocaine cartels.
The Post’s approach was twofold: first, the Post presented the Contra-cocaine allegations as old news — “even CIA personnel testified to Congress they knew that those covert operations involved drug traffickers,” the Post sniffed — and second, the Post minimized the importance of the one Contra smuggling channel that Webb had highlighted in his series, saying that it had not “played a major role in the emergence of crack.” A Post sidebar dismissed African-Americans as prone to “conspiracy fears.”
Next, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times weighed in . . .
The Washington Post has fallen on very hard times, but still… The level of cringeworthy journalism in that paper is astonishing, though they still will occasionally run a good article. At Mother Jones Kevin Drum gives a solid put-down of an exceptionally poor WaPo article:
Here’s the lead headline at the Washington Post right now:
This kind of stuff drives me crazy because it preys on the innumeracy of the general public. Should agencies be more careful about shutting down bank accounts they no longer use? Sure. And does reporter David Fahrenthold acknowledge that the money involved is “a tiny fraction of the federal budget”? Yes he does.
But seriously, folks, “tiny fraction” barely even begins to describe this. In numbers, it represents about 0.000025 percent of the federal budget. But even that’s too small a number to really get a feel for, so let’s put this into terms that the Washington Post can understand. . .
Another good column by Glenn Greenwald:
Charles Krauthammer’s Washington Post column this morning, which calls on Congress to enact new legislation authorizing and regulating Obama’s drone attacks, is actually worth reading. That’s because it highlights the central fact about the Obama legacy when it comes to US militarism, war, and civil liberties. Referencing the monumental shift in how Democrats think about such matters now as compared to the Bush years, he writes:
“Such hypocrisy is the homage Democrats pay to Republicans when the former take office, confront national security reality, feel the weight of their duty to protect the nation — and end up doing almost everything they had denounced their predecessors for doing. The beauty of such hypocrisy, however, is that the rotation of power creates a natural bipartisan consensus on the proper conduct of this war . . .
“Necessity having led the Bush and Obama administrations to the use of near-identical weapons and tactics, a national consensus has been forged. Let’s make it open.”
That Obama has ushered in a “bipartisan consensus” for these policies – transforming them from the divisive symbols of right-wing extremism into the unchallenged framework of both parties’ establishments – is indisputable, one of the most consequential aspects of his presidency.
But Krauthammer’s real purpose with this column is to mock and excoriate Rand Paul’s anti-drone filibuster. As the New York Times describes today, there is an increasingly acrimonious split in the GOP about the policies of militarism and civil liberties enacted in the 9/11 era, and neocons like Krauthammer are petrified that the (relative) anti-war and pro-due-process stances articulated by Paul will gain traction. Krauthammer notes that, contrary to the claims of many progressives, Paul’s opposition was not merely to killing Americans on US soil, but was broader: it was about assassinating citizens without due process anywhere they may be found. Referencing a Washington Post Op-Ed in which Paul declared that “no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime,” Krauthammer writes: “note the absence of the restrictive clause: ‘on American soil’”. Here’s how Krauthammer describes Paul’s real purpose in launching the filibuster: . . .
Continue reading. His concluding two paragraphs are worth pondering:
. . . Like so many people who defend Obama’s War on Terror policies and mock Paul’s filibuster, Krauthammer suggests that the very idea that the US government could treat a US citizen on US soil as an enemy combatant and thus punish them without due process is so absurd as to be paranoid to even raise the question. Does anyone remember the Jose Padilla case: in which the Bush administration, in 2002, detained this US citizen, on US soil; declared him to be an “enemy combatant”; and then proceeded to imprison him for the next 3 1/2 years without charges or trial – all with little public resistance and, ultimately, endorsement from a right-wing court? Was Charles Krauthammer objecting to any of that? Were all of the people now claiming that it’s paranoia to think that the US government would use war power theories against a US citizen on US soil marching in the streets in protest over this? The answer is: no.
The US government has already asserted the very theory that many now mock Paul for asking about, and did so with very little resistance, including from the courts. It’s true that they did not kill Padilla, but the theory used to imprison him for years without charges – the president is empowered to declare anyone he wants to be an “enemy combatant” without charges and trial and then punish him as such: including US citizens found on US soil – is precisely the theory that would justify targeting US citizens on US soil for an Awlaki-type strike. Indeed, that is the theory invoked to justify the killing of Awlaki, and there is no cogent way to exclude US soil: since the entire globe is a battlefield, the president has the unilateral power to detain or kill anyone he wants, including citizens, without charges. To pretend that this is so beyond the pale of what US political culture would tolerate is to exhibit serious naïveté and/or ignorance of recent history.
The US press no longer even pretends to inform people—it sees its job instead as being to spin the news for the marketing demographic their advertisers want: present whatever it takes to get that group to click/read/tune in. Any effort to ground stories in consensual reality or actual science is summarily rejected and can very well cost someone her or his job.
Thus the government, freed from the bonds that an informed and active (i.e., voting) electorate imposes, is free to become corrupt, enriching everyone by looting the public treasury.
Not to be gloomy about it, of course. But just read this entire post by James Fallows.
Indeed, Scalia himself is not being kind to Scalia: he has turned him into a racist clown, mocking the principles by which he is supposed to judge. He already looks close to mania and delusion—as does Bob Woodward, come to think of it. These guys can really get out of touch. Scalia first, in this Salon piece by Joan Walsh:
Four slow-moving ambulances brought up the rear as student leader John Lewis led 600 peaceful protesters dressed for church on the voting rights march that would become known as Selma’s Bloody Sunday, on March 7, 1965. They stayed peaceful; law enforcement officials didn’t. Trampled by police horses, choked by tear gas, beaten with billy clubs – Lewis had his skull fractured – the marchers would need more medical help than the four cars could provide. The ugly melee made national news that night: ABC broke into its presentation of “Judgment at Nuremberg” with footage of the violence, and viewers couldn’t be entirely sure where Nazi atrocities ended and their own country’s began.
Now, not far from Selma, Shelby County, Ala., is trying to take the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act that Lyndon B. Johnson hustled through Congress after Bloody Sunday. Even though the act was reauthorized by a Republican-dominated Congress in 2006 on a 98-0 vote in the Senate (it was 390-33 in the House), and signed by President Bush, and even though its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court four times, there is evidence that the current right-wing court majority would like to overturn at least part of it. Court conservatives once represented a reaction against the court’s supposed overreach into realms best left to Congress, and its willingness to ignore earlier court decisions. Now they seem set to say Congress has no business here, and that their Supreme Court predecessors who upheld the act were either mistaken or the blinkered creatures of their idiosyncratic eras.
Unbelievably, Antonin Scalia derided the act as a “racial entitlement,” prompting gasps from the crowd gathered to hear the arguments Wednesday. (As Rachel Maddow noted, Scalia seems to live for those gasps.) And he blamed Congress for pandering for votes by keeping that “racial entitlement” alive. The cynical Scalia sounded like Mitt Romney blaming his loss on President Obama delivering “gifts” to his coalition:
I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution …They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?
Indeed, the name of it is wonderful. With that remark, Scalia made clear (if he hadn’t already) that he’s more suited for the talk radio dial alongside Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity than he is for the Supreme Court bench.
The right-wing justice’s rant goes to the heart of long-held conservative ambivalence about democracy: that corrupt politicians will be able to buy off the rabble, with “spoils” or patronage or jobs; even outright gifts of cash. Only men of wealth, property and education could be trusted to rise above such rank bribery, which is why many states had property requirements and other limits on voting in the early days of our country; universal suffrage didn’t even reach all white men until 1830.
Still, Romney only railed against Obama providing “gifts” like healthcare to Latinos and contraceptives to women. Limbaugh called him “Santa Claus,” one of his nicer names for the president, for those popular new programs. A majority of Americans, O’Reilly opined during his election night self-pity party, “want stuff. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it.”
But not even O’Reilly implied that the “stuff” Obama gave his voters included their constitutional right to vote.
As is his trademark, . . .
And Bob Woodward, eviscerated by Alex Pareene:
Bob Woodward rocked Washington this weekend with an editorial that hammered President Obama for inventing “the sequester” and then being rude enough to ask that Congress not make us have the sequester. Woodward went on “Morning Joe” this morning, and he continued his brutal assault:
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’” Woodward said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document?” Woodward added. “Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Speaking of kinds of madness, Woodward’s actual position here is insane. As Dave Weigel points out, “some budget document” is a law, passed by Congress and signed by the president. Woodward is saying, why won’t the president just ignore the law, because he is the commander in chief, and laws should not apply to him. That is a really interesting perspective, from a man who is famous for his reporting on the extralegal activities of a guy who is considered a very bad president!
Also, that George W. Bush analogy is amazing. It would have been a good thing for him to invade and occupy Iraq without congressional approval? Say what you will about George W. Bush, at least he was really, really devoted to invading Iraq. (And yes the Reagan line, lol.) . . .
Large American newspapers are now functioning somewhat like Pravda as being official organs of the government: cf. Bill Keller, when he was editor of the NY Times, suppressing a story on the warrantless wiretapping ordered by George W. Bush at the government’s request, and keeping the story a secret until Bush could get reelected—and, indeed, ultimately releasing the story only because a competitor was about to break the story. (Bill Keller simply lacks any sense of journalistic ethics. And—believe it or not—he still writes a column for the NY Times, a newspaper that’s lost a sense of shame. Keller was also a big promoter of the Iraq War in the lead-up to the war, and made sure dissenting voices did not find an outlet in his paper. Judy Miller was a favored reporter of his, which tells you pretty much all that you need to know about Bill Keller.)
And the media are still doing it: concealing news as requested by the government. The US has truly lost its way:
Richard Eskow lists 6 things that cannot be discussed in Washington:
Whom the gods would destroy, the old saying says, they first make mad. And there’s no quicker way to become completely untethered than to read economic reports, including the latest one from the Congressional Budget Office, and then watch the political debate go on as if reality didn’t even exist.
The short version of the CBO’s report is: Spending’s going down, but we desperately need jobs. So how did the president and Congress respond? They kept arguing about who’s got the better plan for making spending go down some more.
If you want to be taken seriously in Washington, you’re going to have to learn: There are some things you just don’t talk about.
1. Don’t Talk About Jobs
The CBO report predicts that the Federal deficit this year will be under $1 trillion, if the “sequester” or other cuts of similar magnitude go into effect, for the first time in five years.
But unemployment won’t be reduced to an acceptable level until 2018, according to the CBO – and Washington’s not talking about how to create jobs. Those spending cuts will make the unemployment situation worse. Apparently that’s now Washington’s official plan: Cut spending, and keep more people out of work.
If things happen according to our leaders’ plans – which are the basis for the CBO’s projection – it will have taken 10 years for the job market to recover from Wall Street’s misdeeds.
Corporate profits recovered in 18 months, and today they’re higher than ever.
2. Don’t talk about growth.
The CBO doesn’t expect the Gross Domestic Product to fully recover from the Wall Street recession for another four years, until 2017. The problem is the “output gap” between the goods and services we could and should be producing, and what we’re actually producing. That, too, is the result of the 2008 crisis. This gap results in lost prosperity for the great majority of Americans, excluding only the wealthiest among us.
If our GDP were large, the Federal debt would be less of a problem, because it would be a smaller piece of our economic “pie.” That’s one reason why economists L. Josh Bivens and Andrew Fieldhouse recently warned that “nearly all demands for specific, ambitious 10-year deficit reduction targets are likely to be terribly counterproductive in the current debate.”
And the problem’s getting worse. As Neil Irwin points out, the CBO report now estimates our annual “output gap” at more than $1 trillion this year. That means it’s going up, not down.
3. Don’t talk about stimulus spending.
Washington’s not talking about that. Instead the President has engaged in the debate on the Republicans’ terms. In his recent remarks on the sequester he said he and the Republicans had gone “more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties believe is required to stabilize our debt.”
The $4 trillion figure is not accepted by “most economists.” Many, if not most, would argue for increased spending in the form of additional stimulus programs as Bivens and Fieldhouse proposed – and for the same reasons. As Bivens and Fieldhouse wrote, arbitrary targets “can easily lead policymakers to embrace measures that will surely hamper economic recovery (which) should be the primary focus.” Ethan Pollock showed how debt stabilization can be achieved more effectively through short-term stimulus spending.
But Washington’s not talking about that, either. Instead, the president’s reinforcing a counterproductive and right-wing economic viewpoint by talking about deficit reduction targets in hard-dollar amounts.
4. Don’t talk about . . .
Dean Baker patiently dissects yet another Robert Samuelson Washington Post column:
It’s always entertaining to read Robert Samuelson’s columns on Monday mornings. They are so deliciously orthogonal to reality. Today’s column, asking whether America is in decline, is another gem.
He starts with a set of “good news” items from a paper issued by Goldman Sachs:
“For starters, the U.S. economy is still the world’s largest by a long shot. Gross domestic product (GDP) is almost $16 trillion, “nearly double the second largest (China), 2.5 times the third largest (Japan).” Per capita GDP is about $50,000; although 10 other countries have higher figures, most of the countries are small — say, Luxembourg.”
That sounds good, except that having double the GDP of China depends on looking at exchange rate measures of GDP. This figure is inflated by the over-valued dollar and under-valued yuan. Using the purchasing power parity measure of GDP, the gap is much smaller, with the IMF projecting it will go the other way by 2017. According tosome estimates China’s GDP is already larger than ours, so it’s probably best to keep this celebration short.
It is true that the U.S. has a higher per capita income than Germany, France, and most other wealthy countries. But by far the main reason for this gap is that we work about 25 percent more on average than workers in Western Europe who all get 4-6 weeks a year vacation, paid parental leave, and paid sick days. This is far more an issue of a different trade-off between work and leisure than a question of people in the United States being richer.
Next we get the good news about our massive energy resources:
“In turn, the oil and gas boom bolsters employment. A study by IHS , a consulting firm, estimates that it has already created 1.7 million direct and indirect jobs. By 2020, there should be 1.3 million more, reckons IHS.”
Ignoring the issue of pollution from drilling out this windfall, it is important to put these jobs numbers in perspective. These are gross jobs, not net jobs. In other words, the vast majority of the 3 million jobs that IHS is promising us in oil and gas by 2020 are not additional jobs to those that would otherwise exist in the absence of these resources. These are jobs that displace jobs in education, medical research, health care, and other sectors. Samuelson may be excited that more people will be employed digging gas wells in 2020 and fewer educating the young, but the economic and social benefits of this reallocation of workers are not obvious.
Then we have the fact that we will be younger than other countries:
“American workers will remain younger and more energetic than their rapidly aging rivals. By 2050, workers’ median age in China and Japan will be about 50, a decade higher than in America.”
Yeah, you probably jumped ahead on this one. A main reason that we will be younger is that we have shorter life expectancies. The good news just keeps coming.
Then we have the U.S. as the prime destination for highly educated emigrants: . . .
The conservative columnists at the Washington Post quite routinely ignore the truth and make statements that are factually false—think of George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Samuelson, for example. But Jennifer Rubin is in a league of her own, making statements that she herself does not believe. Take a look.
Dean Baker, an economist of note, writes:
While we may not know whether David Brooks’ try out as a Romney speechwriter was successful, he clearly is doing his best for the campaign. Today he pushes the idea that a voucher system is the only way to contain Medicare costs. This requires ignoring an awful lot of evidence, but that is an exercise at which David Brooks excels.
To start, in dismissing the idea that governments can be successful in designing policies that contain costs, Brooks ignores all the evidence from every other wealthy country. All of them have much greater involvement of the government in their health care system (in some countries like the United Kingdom and Denmark they actually run the system) yet their average cost per person is less than half as much as in the United States. And they have comparable health care outcomes, with all enjoying longer life expectancies. If health care costs in the United States were comparable to those in any other wealthy country we would be looking at long-term budget surpluses, not deficits. (We could look to trade to reduce costs, but policy debates in the United States are dominated by ardent protectionists in the area of health care.)
Of course relying on the private sector to contain costs in Medicare is not a new idea, contrary to what Brooks seems to believe. The Gingrich Congress’ Medicare Plus Choice plan opened Medicare to private insurers as did President Bush’s Medicare Advantage plan. Both raised costs. We also have the massive under 65 market which is overwhelmingly served by private insurers. Yet per person costs have consistently risen more rapidly for the non-Medicare population (Table 16) than for the Medicare population. This is in addition to the fact that the administrative costs as a share of expenses for Medicare are less than half of the costs for private insurers (this is even after adjusting for the higher denominator with the expenses of Medicare patients).
Brooks seems to think it would be a great idea for providers to be paid by the patient rather than for the specific services provided. That may prove to be a very good idea and the Affordable Care Act actually puts in place a number of incentives to push providers into going this path. Most private insurers do not now follow this route in spite of Brooks’ positive assessment of this approach. But Brooks still links this method of payment with private insurers.
In effect Brooks is arguing that . . .
Continue reading. It’s astonishing how newspaper columnists routinely ignore (or are ignorant of) evidence, and how their editors never seem to call them on it. Another example that Baker points out: Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post (though Samuelson seems deliberately to write in bad faith):
Robert Samuelson is excited by the fact that Europe’s economy faces stagnation. Unfortunately he gets almost everything inthe piece wrong.
First, his central point, that the stagnation is due to overly generous welfare state, is 100 percent at odds with reality. The countries with the most generous welfare states are the Nordic countries and Germany, all of which are doing fine. The problem countries are Greece, Italy, Spain, and Ireland, all countries that rate near the bottom in the generosity of their welfare states.
The proximate cause of stagnation is quite evidently the decision by the European Central Bank to require austerity across the continent. In case anyone disputed this fact, the Conservative government in the U.K. agreed to prove the point by implementing an austerity plan in that country, which quickly threw it back into recession. In short, the immediate problem facing Europe is hardly overly generous welfare states; it is contractionary fiscal policies being pursued by European governments, in many cases against their will.
Other items that Samuelson gets wrong . . .
Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade has an excellent post on the way the NYPD has in effect become the private military/police arm of the financial elite:
The reality of what is happening in New York City has eclipsed the human capacity to absorb it. Four years after crippling the U.S. economy, Wall Street is still settling new cases of fraud each week by paying a fine and moving along to the next fraud and the next fine. Citigroup settled three cases just last week. This is the culture that landed the U.S. within a hairsbreadth of the second Great Depression and yet, incomprehensively, the coddling of the crime denizens continues while the media who attempt to cover protests against that culture are battered and jailed along with the protesters.
Exhibit A on the list of New York City insanity is the spy center created by the NYPD to cohabitate with Wall Street using $150 million of taxpayer funds – the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. Firms like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan sit alongside the NYPD and spy on law abiding journalists and protesters while $800 an hour lawyers settle the firms’ misdeeds for pennies on the dollar a few blocks away in the Court complex.
Now lawsuits are stacking up in those same courts showing a practice and pattern of physical assault on the media as well as illegally withholding documents from reporters who file Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests.
Attacks on the First Amendment’s freedom of the press guarantees have been going on for years in New York City but reached critical mass on the night of November 15, 2011 when Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was personally on hand to supervise the 1 a.m. raid and eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park.
Kalle Lasn and Micah White, editor in chief and senior editor, respectively, of Adbusters magazine, credited with providing the original spark for the Occupy movement, described the raid in an op-ed for the Washington Post a few days later:
Bloomberg’s raid was carried out with military precision. The surprise attack began at 1 a.m. with a media blackout. The encampment was surrounded by riot police, credentialed mainstream journalists who tried to enter were pushed back or arrested, and the airspace was closed to news helicopters. What happened next was a blur of tear gas; a bulldozer; confiscation or destruction of everything in the park, including 5,000 books; upward of 150 arrests; and the deployment of a Long Range Acoustic Device, the infamous ‘sound cannon’ best known for its military use in Iraq. . .
A few days later, on November 21, 2011, George Freeman, Assistant General Counsel of the New York Times, wrote to the NYPD on behalf of The Times, the New York Post, New York Daily News, National Press Photographers Association, Associated Press, NBC, WABC TV, New York Press Photographers Association, Dow Jones, WCBS TV, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Freeman described attacks on mainstream media that were more reminiscent of a military junta than in a country that regularly lectures the world on the finer details of democracy.
Freeman wrote: . . .
As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: “What was Watergate?”
Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington. Four days afterward, the Nixon White House offered its answer: “Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it was,” press secretary Ronald Ziegler scoffed, dismissing the incident as a “third-rate burglary.”
History proved that it was anything but. Two years later, Richard Nixon would become the first and only U.S. president to resign, his role in the criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice — the Watergate coverup — definitively established.
Another answer has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the coverup was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions.
Ervin’s answer to his own question hints at the magnitude of Watergate: “To destroy, insofar as the presidential election of 1972 was concerned, the integrity of the process by which the President of the United States is nominated and elected.” Yet Watergate was far more than that. At its most virulent, Watergate was a brazen and daring assault, led by Nixon himself, against the heart of American democracy: the Constitution, our system of free elections, the rule of law.
Today, much more than when we first covered this story as young Washington Post reporters, an abundant record provides unambiguous answers and evidence about Watergate and its meaning. This record has expanded continuously over the decades with the transcription of hundreds of hours of Nixon’s secret tapes, adding detail and context to the hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives; the trials and guilty pleas of some 40 Nixon aides and associates who went to jail; and the memoirs of Nixon and his deputies. Such documentation makes it possible to trace the president’s personal dominance over a massive campaign of political espionage, sabotage and other illegal activities against his real or perceived opponents.
In the course of his five-and-a-half-year presidency, beginning in 1969, Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars — against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mind-set and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon’s: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency.
Long before the Watergate break-in, gumshoeing, burglary, wiretapping and political sabotage had become a way of life in the Nixon White House.
What was Watergate? It was Nixon’s five wars.
1. The war against the antiwar movement
Nixon’s first war was against the anti-Vietnam War movement. The president considered it subversive and thought it constrained his ability to prosecute the war in Southeast Asia on his terms. In 1970, he approved the top-secret Huston Plan, authorizing the CIA, the FBI and military intelligence units to intensify electronic surveillance of individuals identified as “domestic security threats.” The plan called for, among other things, intercepting mail and lifting restrictions on “surreptitious entry” — that is, break-ins or “black bag jobs.”
Thomas Charles Huston, the White House aide who devised the plan, informed Nixon that it was illegal, but the president approved it regardless. It was not formally rescinded until FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover objected — not on principle, but because he considered those types of activities the FBI’s turf. Undeterred, Nixon remained fixated on such operations.
In a memorandum dated March 3, 1970, presidential aide Patrick Buchanan wrote to Nixon about what he called the “institutionalized power of the left concentrated in the foundations that succor the Democratic Party.” Of particular concern was the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank with liberal leanings.
On June 17, 1971 — exactly one year before the Watergate break-in — Nixon met in the Oval Office with his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, and national security adviser Henry Kissinger. At issue was a file about former president Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the 1968 bombing halt in Vietnam.
“You can blackmail Johnson on this stuff, and it might be worth doing,” Haldeman said, according to the tape of the meeting.
“Yeah,” Kissinger said, “but Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together for three years.” They wanted the complete story of Johnson’s actions.
“Huston swears to God there’s a file on it at Brookings,” Haldeman said.
“Bob,” Nixon said, “now you remember Huston’s plan? Implement it. . . . I mean, I want it implemented on a thievery basis. God damn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”
Nixon would not let the matter drop. Thirteen days later, according to another taped discussion with Haldeman and Kissinger, the president said: “Break in and take it out. You understand?”
The next morning, Nixon said: “Bob, get on the Brookings thing right away. I’ve got to get that safe cracked over there.” And later that morning, he persisted, “Who’s gonna break in the Brookings Institution?”
For reasons that have never been made clear, the break-in apparently was not carried out.
2. The war on the news media . . .
James Fallows points out two very explicit warnings of where the Washington Post is headed. Hint: the circles to which the title refers are ever-tightening…
Early in Fallows’s post, he quotes Robert Kaiser, long a Washington Post mainstay—back in the days when the Post was a hot newspaper, breaking stories like the Watergate burglary and where it led. Kaiser says,
“When I was managing editor of The Washington Post, everything we did was better than anyone in the business,” he said. “We had the best weather, the best comics, the best news report, the fullest news report. “
And that is the simple truth. When I was living in Annapolis as Watergate was breaking, I bought the paper every day: the news was incredible, and not just DC news: great coverage. And the comics were totally wonderful. Four pages jam-packed. All together, not strung through the paper (though I think I did have to look for some—Doonesbury, for example).
And based on the column discussed here, way behind her. Like most Washington Post columnists, she never seems to reflect on what she writes or explore the implications of what she says. She just blurts it out and continues on her way. The column discussed at the link shows the kind of country she hopes the US will become.
The Washinton Post has come a long way—unfortunately, downhill. Katherine Graham must be spinning in her grave. Glenn Greenwald looks at what the paper has become:
Several weeks ago, I wrote about a truly twisted, deranged rant by neocon royal family member Rachel Abrams. Abrams — wife of Iran-contra convict and Bush 43 official Eliot Abrams, step-daughter of Norm Podhoretz, half-sister of John Podhoretz, and a Board Member of Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) — unleashed a torrent of anti-Palestinian hatred upon the release of Gilad Shalit that could be produced only by the most rotted of souls:
Then round up [Gilad Shalit's] captors, the slaughtering, death-worshiping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women—those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others—and their offspring—those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god—as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose.
While Abrams’ post sparked widespread revulsion, it found one noted admirer: The Washington Post‘s Israel-obsessed blogger Jennifer Rubin, whore-tweeted Abrams’ promotion of her post with obvious (and admitted) agreement.
In the ensuing controversy, ECI claimed that Abrams’ murderous desires were directed only toward Palestinian “terrorists,” not Palestinians generally — a self-evidently false excuse that quickly fell apart after Abrams wrote that, in essence, all Palestinians are Terrorists (“there are no fine points of distinction in what they’re after”). To make her genocidal wishes even clearer, Abrams then directed her bile to ThinkProgress’ Ali Gharib — an Iranian-American who was one of the many commentators objecting to her original post — explaining that she’d also “feed HIM and his friends to sharks.” To put it mildly, Abrams’ post was bigoted, violence-inciting, and driven by hatred of the purest and most repellent strain.
It’s the opposite of newsworthy that a rabid neocon like Abrams spews this sort of anti-Arab hate-mongering; that is basically the defining attribute of neoconservatism. But what is significant is that Jennifer Rubin promoted and endorsed it without any hesitation. Over the past 18 months, we’ve witnessed a series of journalists fired for far less virulent sentiments directed at Israelis and Jews (Rich Sanchez’ complaints about disproportionate Jewish media influence and Helen Thomas’ call for Jews to leave the region), and even for completely innocuous remarks whose only sin was offending neocons (Octavia Nasr’s mild eulogizing of a moderate Hezbollah cleric). Yet here we have a Post blogger who has endorsed this extreme hate-mongering, and does so with total impunity.
Is there any doubt whatsoever that had Rubin promoted a rant spewing these sorts of ugly caricatures about Jewish children and Israelis with accompanying calls for savage violence — rather than directed at Palestinians — that she would have instantly been fired, then castigated and attacked by all Serious precincts? As Gharib reports today, that was the question posed by a Post reader via email to the Post‘s Ombudsman, Patrick Pexton. To his credit, Pexton had previously condemned Rubin on his Ombudsman blog, writing: “in agreeing with the sentiment, and in spreading it to her 7,000 Twitter followers who know her as a Washington Post blogger, Rubin did damage to The Post and the credibility that keeps it afloat.” After denouncing Abrams’ rant as “reprehensible,” Pexton added: “That a Post employee would retweet it is a huge disappointment to me.”
That’s all fine as far as it goes, but what about the question posed by the reader: wouldn’t Rubin have been fired for promoting this hate-mongering had it been directed at Jews and Israelis rather than Palestinians? Pexton’s email response, published by the reader who emailed him, was this:
Off the record, I think it’s quite possible. But the ombudsman does not hire or fire people here. I only comment.
Leave aside the bizarre belief of establishment journalists that they can unilaterally decree their statements to be “off the record” and then expect that to be honored in the absence of any agreement by the person to whom they’re making the statement. What is most striking here is Pexton’s highly revealing cowardice — probably well-grounded — in wanting his observation about this double standard to be kept private; shouldn’t an Ombudsman who believes this be eager to raise it in public? As the reader noted in reply to Pexton:
If, in your opinion, such a grave double standard exits, why do you comment off the record? Why not publicly state your opinion? Why self censor? Doesn’t that reinforce insidious limitations on free speech?
Think of the absurdity. You must stay cautiously silent about a perfectly reasonable opinion while Rubin and Abrams can let fly with genocidal remarks. With respect, your silence contributes significantly to the poisoning of public debate.
Please speak up.
What’s particularly remarkable is that Pexton is admitting (albeit wanting it kept secret) what any honest observer knows to be true: that there is a very high likelihood — I’d say absolute certainty — that Rubin would have been fired had she promoted a post like this about Jews and Israelis rather than Arabs and Palestinians.
But this is the insidious, pervasive bias that has long been obvious in a profession that relentlessly touts its own “objectivity.” Even the mildest criticism of Israelis and anything even hinting at criticisms of Jews is strictly prohibited — a prohibition enforced by summary, immediate dismissal and enduring stigma. As Nicholas Kristof wrote during a visit to Jerusalem last year: Israel “tolerates a far greater range of opinions [about Israel] than America.”
But the most extreme forms of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred flourish often with no condemnation and virtually always with no sanction (Juan Williams’ firing by NPR was one of the very few exceptions, though that was ultimately motivated by long-standing NPR animosity toward Williams’ role on Fox). Had Rubin promoted (and admitted agreeing with) such disgusting bile toward Jews and Israelis, her journalism career would have been over, but because it was directed at Palestinians, it continues to thrive. Indeed, the neocon fanatic who runs the Post‘s Editorial Page, Fred Hiatt, predictably defended and praised Rubin, calling her “an excellent journalist and a relentless reporter” who “is often the target of unjustified criticism.” (Pexton argued that what Rubin did violated Post rules “that apply to editors, reporters and bloggers,” but since Rubin is an opinion writer, those rules do not apply to her: except Hiatt and Rubin herself repeatedly describe her as a “reporter” and a “journalist”).
Herein lies one of the great myths of American political culture: . . .
James Fallows has just run three excellent posts on the misreporting of Senate dysfunction. Take a look at this post, and this one, and (especially) at this more recent post. (These are three consecutive posts—in chronological order—and together they tell a depressing story of malfeasance and/or misfeasance by journalists whose job it is to inform the public.
So far as I can tell, the “journalists” who fail in their basic mission of informing the public by not describing clearly what is happening in the Senate must necessarily fall into one (or more) of very few categories:
Category 1: The journalist in question simply does not understand what is going on — this seems unlikely, but OTOH, the lack of a clear description (the fundamental requirement of the basic mission of journalism) suggests that it’s a possibility.
Category 2: The journalist is deliberately providing cover for the GOP so that the GOP can continue their program to wreck the country if necessary, simply to defeat Obama — this seems more likely, given the Washington Post’s current management and what I suspect are their hiring practices (cf. how Monica Goodling hired staff in Bush’s DoJ—hmm. Does Pat Robertson’s Regent University have a school of “journalism” the way they have a school of “law”?).
I was going to continue the list, but I think those two categories exhaust the possibilities: either the journalist doesn’t understand what is happening and thus the report is muddied and incomplete, or the journalist does understand and his/her report is deliberately misleading.
I can see no other possibilities, but perhaps you can think of one.
Normally, in what passes for “journalism” these days, a news story will carefully quote both sides of an argument (often one side factual and the other crazy) and end the story there, satisfied that the reporter maintained “balance” and carefully avoided giving the reader any guidance as to facts in the case. An alternative is to quote critics of both sides of an argument, again with no guidance as to facts, but a true devotion to “balance.”
And yet in the Washington Post, one of the most devoted practitioners of this sort of pseudo-journalistic “objectivity,” we find in a story on climate change a careful recounting of the charges hurled in “climategate” with some acknowledgement that the investigations have consistently found no wrong doing, and a TOTAL ABSENCE of any mention of the thousands of misstatements, outright lies, conflicts of interests with heavy payments, and general bad behavior on the part of those opposing any action to ameliorate climate change. The opposition has consistently be caught in errors and lies, but the Post article never ever mentions those. Why? The Post editors themselves oppose taking any constructive actions to reverse or even ameliorate climate change, so they use the paper to achieve their goals.
Here is the relevant section from a recent story:
Missteps by scientists have given critics ammunition. Most notorious were “Climate-gate” e-mails hacked from computers at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2009. The e-mails showed scientists being combative and clubby, but multiple investigations in both the United States and Britain cleared the researchers of scientific misconduct, concluding that there was no evidence they tried to cook the books, as critics had alleged.
Embarrassing errors were also found in a seminal 2007 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was supposed to establish, beyond question, the scientific consensus. One passage in the 3,000-page report, for example, stated that massive glaciers in the Himalayas would vanish by 2035 — which isn’t true.
Such missteps revealed that the scientific establishment does not always function like a well-oiled machine and that climate science in the raw is a more contentious enterprise than the average academic news release might suggest. But the errors did not change the basic science behind the theory of anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming.
That the planet has warmed is a fact hardly anyone disputes — it has been measured with instruments on land and sea and in space. That humans have contributed to the warming through industrial activities is a theory supported by multiple scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.
“Ultimately, we go back to physics. If you burn fossil fuel, you make CO2,” said Richard B. Alley, a geophysicist at Penn State University and author of “Earth: The Operator’s Manual.” “You can do this with bookkeeping. How much did we burn? How much CO2 does that make? Where is it? There it is.”
Isn’t it odd that none of the bad actions of those fighting taking action against climate change are mentioned or even alluded to. It’s as though proponents had this nasty business—which seems to have amounted to nothing—but the opponents are given carte blanche to do and say whatever they want, with no accountability.