SocraticGadfly: 6/6/10 - 6/13/10

June 12, 2010

Google censorship hits US

Not just in China does Google wield a strong fist.

Here in this U.S., apparently you can't be anti-Zionist on YouTube.

Review of David Remnick's 'The Bridge'

This is the book every would-be Obama voter should have had in his or her hands two full years ago, or 2.5 for Democratic primary voters, even more.

If that had been the case, would Obama's campaign gotten the momentum it did? Possibly not so much.

Remnick does an excellent job of showing that Obama has always been a pragmatist, a conciliator and a neoliberal. (Oh, and in light of BP and Deepwater Horizon and Interior Secretary Kenny Boy Salazar, it's "interesting" that Remnick has nothing to write about an Obama environmental record.) That was all the case in Iowa, January 2008. But, many voters either didn't look deep enough, didn't know to look deep enough, or just made unwarranted assumptions.

That said, there is one missing thing in this book.

Remnick never (and this is a book about Obama's "rise," not just a narrow biography) looks at the issues of "white liberal guilt" or white assumptions about black Democratic politicians being liberal not neoliberal.

I think an addition 15-20 pages, within the last 100 or so, would have been plenty to cover that. That said, I think white liberal guilt and white unjustified assumptions were a factor. Obama might have gotten the nomination anyway, but it would have been even tougher. (Either he or Hillary Clinton still would have beaten McCain.)

Beyond that one thing, though, this book is very good. One suggestion: Also read Mendell's bio on Obama. It came out earlier and fresher, and from a Chicago perspective.

This is a great book overall, and, having referenced it above, you'll understand just why Obama is reacting to BP the way he does, why he had a cautious stimulus bill, why he believes so much in bipartisanship and more.

That last one is a biggie. Explicitly and implicitly, Remnick makes clear that Obama thought he as president could charm Congressional Republicans out of the trees. Well, he got his head handed to him on a platter more than once, but I still am not sure he has fully accepted that. (And he had four [theoretical] years in the Senate to have disabused him of that idea.)

Will he move further right after midterm elections? This book suggests that's a definite possibility.

Yet another reason Obama might be worse than Bush?

The Obama Pentagon apparently was trying to extralegally seize the head of Wikileaks whilst he might be here in America.

Only thing was that Wikileaks punked the What-A-Gon with some Twitter deception.

Yes, Dear Leader, you have a share of BP blame

The Obama Administration has increased outsourcing inspections of offshore drilling rigs. Including Deepwater Horizon:
In May 2007, an auditor named David McKay arrived by helicopter on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon. His mission was to assess the rig's compliance with an international safety and environmental protection code.

McKay's visit lasted about a day, and he found that maintenance on some of the equipment was overdue by as much six months. Some of that work was "safety critical." But none of it stood in the way of the rig's recertification for another five years.

Yet, it's not just Obamiacs, but other Democrats who should know better, who chastise me, or wonder how I can say that in some ways, Obama has been worse than Bush.

Well, let's stop with the soft bigotry of low post-Bush expectations. Let's also remember that, on the environmental pitch, before his nuclear loan guarantees, before his nomination of Kenny boy Salazar, Obama never was a notable environmentalist. Hard ot be that when your hands are hugely outstrectched to companies like Exelon.

So, read the full story, find more outrage, and stop enabling him, dammit!

June 11, 2010

BP vs. Apollo 13

A great read from Timothy Egan about "can do," not vs. "can't do," but, "won't do."

And, as he compares BP's actions to those of Exxon 20-some years ago, it's clear that's what BP, as a Division I member of Big Oil, is all about. Not "can't do." But "won't do."

And, the longer we don't get a real climate bill, the longer Obama won't push the Senate to use reconciliation procedures even to pass the weak crap of a "climate bill" on its plate, and more, it's ever more clear that Just.Another.Politician.™ has some "won't do" issues too. And not just here. Torture, and other things, this is all about "looking forward," not backward.

More global warming proof: Arctic ice

Ice levels up north are at a multi-millennial low.

If Steve Pinker "hearts" social media

Can the apocalypse be far behind? To be honest, the column Pinker writes touting the benefits of the information flow explosion isn't all bad. He didn't turn it into a sermon for Pop Ev Psych, at least.

Nonetheless, he's too generous, if not by half, at least by 25 percent. And, they may be little, but he does build a couple of straw men in just 800 words. No surprise there.

Scat, ESA-style

Sorry, all you eagerly anticipatory types, that I've not had a Friday scatblogging for a few weeks.

But, in honor of the Gulf oil spill, the highlighting of President Obama's thin and somewhat spotty presidential and pre-presidential environmental record and other things, I've got a good one:

Tracker dogs sniffing out endangered species by scat.

And, the work is needed, even in places you might not think. The story notes Alabama has 117 endangered species, for example. (Not counting any species on the Alabama Gulf Coast newly endangered by BP oil.)

Anyway, click the link above to read more about the dogs.

Nontheist, not atheist?

Except for his defense of the dumb term "bright" (and yes, it's dumb, from a PR/marketin point if nothing else), I totally agree with Bob Carroll's essay on why he's not an atheist.

June 10, 2010

Obama: Worse than Bush, more?

Yes, the idea that Obama not only is not a liberal but, at least on some things, like civil liberties, is actually WORSE than George W. Bush, hasn't jumped the shark.

It HAS jumped the pond; Spiegel weighs in with its take (English translation) on Obama's war on whistleblowers.

Just another thing the neolibs at Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Eschaton and (somewhat) Kos won't tell you.

No 'Twitter revolution' in Iran

As Foreign Policy notes, starting with the fact of the hashtag "#iranrevolution" being in English, not Farsi, Twitter had almost no impact inside Iran during last year's post-election tumult.
A number of opposition activists have told me they used text messages, email, and blog posts to publicize protest actions. However, good old-fashioned word of mouth was by far the most influential medium used to shape the postelection opposition activity. There is still a lively discussion happening on Facebook about how the activists spread information, but Twitter was definitely not a major communications tool for activists on the ground in Iran.
Beyond that, the idea that there was a "Twitter revolution" sounds more like Western blogger/online guru vanity than anything else.

Hashtag this as #socialmediafail. (And not the first.)

The Gadfly of the State

I was in Denver for a nonprofit conference over the weekend plus Monday, hence the lack of posting.

But, a Unitarian church in Denver helps out; given my blog handle, etc., this picture opportunity could not be passed up.