Last week, I asked readers to “Name the BP oil disaster and write Obama’s ‘pivot’ speech to the climate and clean energy jobs bill.” A few people actually wrote entire speeches. Here is one by guest blogger Stewart J. Hudson, President of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, suggests Obama deliver a speech centering on the next holiday weekend, July 4:
Tom Tomorrow’s terrific cartoon in Salon is subtitled, “It’s called the Doomsday Bomb and it’s perfectly safe. Trust us.”
By Matthew Yglesias
You hear a fair amount about “Chinglish”—hilarious inapt translations of Chinese phrases into English—and thought I haven’t actually seen a ton of it, I did find this book title at an airport bookshop to be pretty amusing:
Lurking behind the Chinglish phenomenon is the reality of a rapidly developing country of 1.3 billion people that’s making a rather intensive effort to learn English. The trouble here is that not only is it hard for Chinese speakers to learn English and vice versa (in the sense that the languages are much more different than English and French or English and German) but that there are some rather basic capacity bottlenecks that make mass-instruction in a foreign language hard to pull off. We had a tour guide today at the forbidden city who spoke English very well but had a very strange accent. Initially I thought that he must have been taught English by an Australian or perhaps studied abroad there. But it turned that he’d learned English from a native Chinese speaker who himself had learned from a native Chinese speaker who in turn had learned from a guy from Leeds in the UK. So I was listening, essentially, to a very capable individual doing a copy of a copy of a northern English accent.
In principle, there’s probably a huge opportunity for China to import actual native speakers of English from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand to teach China’s more advanced students and help them obtain a greater level of fluency. But more broadly as China continues to develop it seems to me that we’ll probably see some erosion of English’s current status as a global lingua franca.
In Katrina, “at least 1,836 people lost their lives…. Total damage was $81 billion.”
I get it. Many progressives are angry with Obama for many grievances, some of which are genuine, such as his inane seeming embrace of offshore drilling (though, ironically, he actually closed off most of the coastal US to offshore drilling). But some progressives seem to be taking the anger a bit far.
I’ve been as outspoken as anyone on the devastation — human and environmental — that the BP oil disaster is going to cause (see “The human dimensions of oil spills” and “The BP oil disaster is a health disaster, too” and “BP’s dispersants are toxic “” but not as toxic as dispersed oil“). And 11 people have been killed in this tragedy (so far) — by the reckless behavior of BP.
That said, I would have thought people knew what happened in Katrina. But maybe not. Of Katrina, Wikipedia reports:
By Dara Lind
I wasn’t persuaded by the argument Hanna Rosin put forward a couple of weeks ago that the tea-party movement was inspiring a new wave of women, particularly the working mothers Sarah Palin identified as “mama bears,” to run for office. As E.G. of the Economist’s Democracy in America blog pointed out at the time, there’s a big difference between women getting involved in electoral politics on an organizational level, as most of the women in Rosin’s article are, and women becoming candidates themselves. E.G.’s explanation:
I’m not especially impressed by the number of women who hold leadership positions in the party apparatus itself. You often see that in political parties—women are the county chair or are on the board or are holding the fundraisers. It’s largely economic. Women are more likely to be at-home parents, to have wrested some flexibility from the workplace, to have a partner who makes more money than they do. That gives them the latitude to pursue what are, for the most part, volunteer commitments. If these jobs don’t translate to more women being elected to higher office, what’s the point?
(Incidentally, I think this phenomenon’s actually a lot more pernicious than E.G. makes it out to be. Politics is a lot like, say, higher education or advertising insofar as there’s a big difference between the people in “management” roles and the people who are respected as leaders in the field. Few students who want to go into academia say “Yeah, maybe I’ll be a famous historian, but I really want to be a college dean!”; by the same token, most kids with political aspirations want to be like Barack Obama or Sarah Palin, not Tim Kaine or — heaven forbid — Michael Steele. The fact that women are getting sorted into administration instead of leadership indicates that the dynamics that keep women underrepresented in elected office and high-profile professorships are probably more complicated and harder to fix than they seem.)
When I read in Mark McKinnon’s latest GOP press release Daily Beast column that “a record number of women — and Republican women” are running in this election cycle, however, I was ready to have my mind changed. Maybe Palin’s “mama bear” meme and the tea party movement’s anti-credentialist rhetoric really are encouraging women without backgrounds in politics to jump in!
If such women do exist, though, they’re sure as heck not represented among the candidates Palin’s endorsed as “Mama Grizzlies.” Of the eleven women McKinnon profiles, six are currently holding elected office, with two others (an autism advocate and a Fox News analyst) professionally involved in national politics. If Rosin took the “mama bear” meme from Palin to describe the women she was inspiring to get into the fray, Palin takes it back to label a group of women who would still be involved in politics, and possibly even running in the races they’re in now, if neither she nor the tea-party movement had existed.
Furthermore, two of the three “Mama Grizzlies” who don’t have political backgrounds are Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. Fiorina and Whitman both got into their races by positioning themselves as experienced former CEOs whose business and management acumen would make them levelheaded, efficient officeholders. This isn’t high on the list of Acceptable Personas for Women in Politics — a list already much shorter than its equivalent for men. (Not that I have much love in my heart for Republican CEO fetishism, but if they’re going to do it they might as well let women in on the game.) By draping the “Mama Grizzly” label over a couple of politicians who really aren’t portraying themselves as “mama bears” at all, just because they happen to have R’s by their names and two X’s in their genomes, Palin’s doing her part to keep the ways we see women in politics limited to a few gendered archetypes.
The GOP could be celebrating the fact that it’s now drawing women from a slightly broader range of backgrounds to run for office. But instead, its need to co-opt the Tea Party seems to be leading it to identify Fiorina and Whitman with a trope that women are getting into conservative politics because of their convictions, not their expertise. Meanwhile, the women who actually are getting motivated to get into conservative politics where they hadn’t been before are getting shuffled into the administration of the tea party movement, just like their counterparts have long gotten shuffled into the administration of both major parties. One paw forward, two paws back.
So how is the president doing on
- Actually responding to the disaster,
- Appearing to respond to the disaster, and
- Messaging on the disaster?
Grade on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the worst). Feel free to provide a score on how hard this is going to hit his Presidency. My scores below.
NYT columnist Frank Rich opines:
By Ryan Powers
I don’t have much to add to what other, more knowledgeable folks have already said about Obama’s new National Security Strategy. But I wanted to reiterate a point that both Yglesias and Walt made regarding the need for making U.S. foreign policy and national security commitments more credible. Perhaps the best way to do that is to quote Keohane and Nye from their 1998 Foreign Affairs article, Power and Interdepence in the Information Age. They outline what credible commitments look like when fulfilling those commitments are less about material power and more about power derived from credibility in the international system:
The low cost of transmitting data means that the ability to transmit it is much less important than it used to be, but the ability to filter information is more so. Political struggles focus less on control over the ability to transmit information than over the creation and destruction of credibility. … Much of the traditional conduct of foreign policy occurs through the exchange of promises, which can be valuable only insofar as they are credible. Hence, governments that can credibly assure potential partners that they will not act opportunistically will gain advantages over competitors whose promises are less credible. During the Cold War, for example, the United States was amore credible ally forWestern European countries than the Soviet Union because as a democracy the United States could more credibly promise not to seek to exploit or dominate its allies. Second, to borrow from capital markets at competitive interests rates requires credible information about one’s financial situation. Finally, the exercise of soft power requires credibility in order to be persuasive. For instance, as long as the United States condoned racial segregation it could not be a credible advocate of universal human rights. But in June 1998, President Clinton could preach human rights to the Chinese–and in answer to a question at Beijing University about American shortcommings, could frankly admit that the United States needed to make further progress realize its ideal of equality.
With regard to Israel’s nukes and China’s human rights, the Obama administration efforts are looking a bit like the Keohane and Nye vision in which the U.S. tries to hold all states — the U.S. included — accountable to their international commitments. But in other areas — especially with the CIA’s airstrikes in Pakistan — there seems to be a little cognitive dissonance.
By Satyam Khanna
Kathleen Parker interviews House Minority John Boehner, who appears to proclaim that the GOP is applying the “Party of No” strategy to the Gulf oil leak:
For Boehner, being called the “Party of No” isn’t a regrettable invective. It is a strategy aimed at highlighting the contrast between those running things and those who want to run things. That deafening silence you hear from Republicans about the gulf oil spill? All the better for Americans to hear the glubglubglub of Democrats and the administration going down the drain.
Second, I admit that the Party of No strategy, at least at this point, is probably a political winner. But that isn’t going to be any comfort to the Louisiana fishermen, tourist industries, and the coastal communities devastated by the leak. For all the GOP bellowing about the “failure of leadership” of the Obama administration, Boehner’s statement is a reminder to the people actually affected by the oil catastrophe where the national GOP’s priorities are.
After Criticizing McCain For Changing Positions, J.D. Hayworth Is Called Out On His Own Immigration Flip-Flop
This morning, Meet the Press host David Gregory noted that guest and Arizona senatorial candidate J.D. Hayworth was once a supporter of a path to citizenship and guest worker program. Given that Hayworth has framed his campaign around attacking opponent Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for flip-flopping from a pro-immigration reform stance to a restrictionist border hawk, Gregory asked Hayworth to define what really makes him any different. Hayworth attributed his change of heart to 9/11:
GREGORY: Going back to 2001, you actually believed in a guest worker program. You believed in a path towards citizenship which you now call amnesty. Sen. McCain was a champion of comprehensive reform with Sen. Kennedy. Back during the Bush administration. [...] How does your position really differ from him?
HAYWORTH: Well it differs profoundly because what happened on 9/11 helped the scales fall from my eyes. I understand that national security is border security. And I understand that we must enforce the laws.
However, the anti-immigrant group, NumbersUSA tracks Hayworth’s pro-immigration votes during his term in the House of Representatives as going back to as late as 2005, when he voted against H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act — which ultimately passed. In fact, many of Hayworth’s efforts and ire have focused more on immigration from Latin American countries than in stopping terrorists from entering the country. In 2006, Hayworth proposed a three-year ban on legal immigration from Mexico. In an op-ed published the same year, Hayworth conflated the two, stating, “How different are these radical Islamists from the Mexican politicians who push for a Mexico without borders and undermine our efforts at assimilation?”
Hayworth claims 9/11 was an eye-opener for him on immigration, but conservative guru Linda Chavez has a different take. “Hayworth, a six-term congressman, once favored a guest worker program but flip-flopped when he sensed bashing immigrants was a surer ticket to re-election,” wrote Chavez. According to Chavez, the strategy failed miserably for Hayworth, who “lost handily” to a more moderate candidate in 2006.
It’s time we moved on to something else, or this is going to kill us.
Not only are world oil supplies running out, but what oil is still left is proving very dirty to obtain. We need to kick our oil addiction now if we expect to preserve any hopes of economic prosperity, or unspoiled habitats.
“This is What the End of the Oil Age Looks Like.”