Just more hot air on jobs

Please see the update at the end of the post.

I don’t pay much attention when President Obama talks about jobs. He lost credibility on this issue long ago,[1] certainly by November 2009, less than a year into his first term in office, when he said, “We all know there are limits to what government can and should do even during such difficult times.”[2] I’ve never forgiven him for those words, but they told me all I needed to know about what he was going to actually do about unemployment. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Cold buildings and hot air: the Main Street choice between empty and hateful words,” Not Housebroken, June 3, 2011, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=3713
  2. [2]Michael A. Fletcher and Neil Irwin, “Obama to have forum on job creation,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 13, 2009, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/13/MNL31AJFT4.DTL

Class warfare in high tech

The recent controversy in San Francisco over buses run by high technology firms between the city and Silicon Valley offices evokes a paradox. On the one side, I completely understand the concerns about rising rents and evictions.[1]

The technology industry’s newest wealth is swallowing up the San Francisco Peninsula. If Silicon Valley remains the center of engineering breakthroughs, San Francisco has become a magnet for hundreds of software start-ups, many of them in the South of Market area, where Twitter has its headquarters. (Half the start-ups seem to have been founded by Facebook alumni.) A lot of younger employees of Silicon Valley companies live in the city and commute to work in white, Wi-Fi-equipped company buses, which collect passengers at fifteen or so stops around San Francisco. The buses—whose schedules are withheld from the public—have become a vivid emblem of the tech boom’s stratifying effect in the Bay Area. Rebecca Solnit, who has lived in San Francisco for thirty years, recently wrote in The London Review of Books, “Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves. Right by the Google bus stop on Cesar Chavez Street immigrant men from Latin America stand waiting for employers in the building trade to scoop them up, or to be arrested and deported by the government.” Some of the city’s hottest restaurants are popping up in the neighborhoods with shuttle stops. Rents there are rising even faster than elsewhere in San Francisco, and in some cases they have doubled in the past year.[2]

Read more

  1. [1]Erica Goode and Claire Cain Miller, “Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City,” New York Times, November 24, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/us/backlash-by-the-bay-tech-riches-alter-a-city.html; Claire Cain Miller and Erica Goode, “Making San Francisco Accessible to More Than the Tech Elite,” New York Times, November 26, 2013, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/who-is-responsible-for-making-sure-san-francisco-is-accessible-to-everyone-not-just-the-tech-elite/; Will Oremus, “Eviction protesters block Google bus in San Francisco: Fake video of Google employee goes viral,” Slate, December 9, 2013, http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/12/09/eviction_protesters_block_google_bus_in_san_francisco_fake_video_of_google.html; Norimitsu Orishi, “New San Francisco Tech Boom Brings Jobs but Also Worries,” New York Times, June 4, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/us/san-francisco-tech-boom-brings-jobs-and-worries.html; David Streitfeld, “Activists Accuse Tech Community of Throwing San Francisco Under the Bus,” New York Times, January 21, 2014, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/activists-accuse-tech-community-of-throwing-san-francisco-under-the-bus/;
  2. [2]George Packer, “Silicon Valley transfers its slogans—and its money—to the realm of politics,” New Yorker, May 27, 2013, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/05/27/130527fa_fact_packer

Telling too much truth

“It’s really OK,” Mary Willingham, a researcher at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told CNN, “because I’m telling the truth.” This brave—or perhaps foolhardy—statement comes in response to death threats and a university disavowal of her findings that some NCAA athletes there read at a level well below that expected for college students.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Sara Ganim, “Death threats and denial for woman who showed college athletes struggle to read,” CNN, January 14, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/09/us/ncaa-athletes-unc-response/

Watch what they do, not what they say

So, it’s an election year. I think I’m going to find this one more annoying than most.

It has previously been noted that President Obama says different things during an election year than at other times, when he’s busy cozying up with the corporate elite. And that the left has generally done little to hold him to account, and that on those rare occasions when someone does hold him to account, the reaction from Team Obama will be patronizing and condescending.[1] This is not a nice man. And we’ve now, on the national stage, been through the 2008, 2010, and 2012 elections with him. We should have already figured out who he is as we go into the 2014 elections. Read more

  1. [1]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Ed Rendell Tells Democratic Base to “Get Over It” on Rachel Maddow,” Firedoglake, September 23, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Firedoglake, September 27, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Joel Connelly, “Obama to progressives: I’m taking you for granted,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 10, 2012, http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2012/06/10/obama-to-progressives-im-taking-you-for-granted/; David Daley, “Tom Frank: Obama’s made left ‘futile and irrelevant’,” Salon, November 3, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/11/03/tom_frank_obamas_made_left_futile_and_irrelevant/; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/09/election-2010-opposite-day-on-the-campaign-trail/; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; Glenn Greenwald, “Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy,” Salon, February 8, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/02/08/repulsive_progressive_hypocrisy/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; David Sirota, “Check your optimism,” Salon, January 21, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/22/check_your_optimism/; Matt Stoller, “The progressive case against Obama,” Salon, October 27, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/10/27/the_progressive_case_against_obama/; Matt Stoller, “Why is the left defending Obama?” Salon, November 3, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/11/03/why_is_the_left_defending_obama/; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left

Extortion and the NSA

When Edward Snowden’s leaked material began appearing in June 2013, people in the U.S. were very quickly inclined to view Snowden as a hero, rather than as a traitor.[1] And one might think that a reason to enable presidents to pardon people suspected or convicted of criminal conduct is to temper a judicial process driven much more by law than by justice. Accordingly, both the New York Times and the Guardian, which have run a number of stories based on the leaks, have called for just that: a presidential pardon.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Andy Sullivan, “More Americans see man who leaked NSA secrets as ‘patriot’ than traitor: Poll,” Reuters, June 12, 2013, http://preview.reuters.com/2013/6/12/more-americans-see-man-who-leaked-nsa-secrets-as
  2. [2]Guardian, “Snowden affair: the case for a pardon,” January 1, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/01/snowden-affair-case-for-pardon-editorial; New York Times, “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower,” January 1, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/opinion/edward-snowden-whistle-blower.html