Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, August 4, 2012 10:35 pm

Child abuse

Economist Dean Baker:

Yes, on this great day when we hear the unemployment rate is 8.3 percent, NYT columnist Bill Keller is still pressing on the need to curb Social Security and Medicare spending and calling on his fellow baby boomers to rise to the occasion. He has even brought in Jim Kessler, the senior vice-president for policy at Third Way, to help him make the case.

I’m sure that Keller and Kessler would consider my mention of the 8.3 percent unemployment rate to be rude, after all what does that have to do with the need to cut Social Security and Medicare? There is a simple answer to that. The 8.3 percent unemployment rate should be seen as comparable to a school fire where the children are still inside the building. Tens of millions of people are seeing their lives ruined.

This is not a short-term story. Many of the families that will break up under the stress of high unemployment or the loss of their home will not get back together when the unemployment rate falls back to a more normal level. Similarly, the kids who have their school lives disrupted because their parents lose their homes or must move in search of jobs and/or family break up will not have the damage repaired later. This is why 8.3 percent unemployment should be problems #1, #2, and #3.

And yes, we do know how to fix this. Spending money puts people to work. Contrary to a bizare cult in policy circles, it does not matter whether money comes from the private sector or public sector –dollars will get people to work. And the people who get those dollars will spend them and put other people to work. If Keller and Kessler want to be responsible baby boomers they will do everything in their power to try to get us back to full employment quickly so that so many children do not have to grow up in families that are troubled by unemployment. The next generation will thank them for their efforts, I assure them.

UPDATE: Link added. H/t to Beau for alerting me to the omission.

UPDATE: Greensboro folks, this Keller piece appears on the front of today’s Ideas section in the News & Record.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012 9:25 pm

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League (which is just Bill Donohue and his computer) is loathsome, cont.

Now he’s threatening rabbis:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue, a vocal conservative voice who recently warred with The Daily Show over a “vagina manger,” has infuriated prominent Jewish leaders with a private email last week to Philadelphia Rabbi Arthur Waskow.

Waskow, a progressive rabbi involved in the Jewish Renewal movement, had criticized the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a Huffington Post op-ed for “attacking the religious freedom of millions of American women and the religious freedom of American nuns” over contraception.

Donohue responded with a note to Waskow that launched an email exchange that ended with a warning, forwarded to BuzzFeed by a source close to the rabbi, that “Jews had better not make enemies of their Catholic friends since they have so few of them” (Donohue writes that this is a saying of Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York). Donohue also includes a postscript saying, “I do not have a long nose.”

Donahue also raised a recent child abuse scandal in Orthodox Jewish communities.

“You need to do something about this epidemic right now,” he told Waskow, who is not Orthodox, suggesting that Jews follow the Catholic Church’s reforms in dealing with clerical abuse.

The balls on this guy, not to mention the ignorance. He has been a co-conspirator in a decades-long international chilid-rape and obstruction-of-justice scheme, and he presumes to lecture a Reform rabbi about a scandal in the Orthodox community.

Oh, and that “saying of Ed Koch”? Um, not so much:

Koch, the former mayor of New York, said that he never said the quote Donohue attributes to him.

“My comments have always been about fostering good feelings between Jews and Catholics toward mutual understanding of our shared interests,” Koch said in a statement. “However, I certainly do not believe that Jews, or Catholics, should be threatened for making critical remarks, nor should my name be used when doing so. While I do have a high regard for Bill, his references to me and my remarks were inappropriate and different in substance and tone than what I said on an earlier occasion. My remarks did not and do not refer to the Rabbi’s comments.”

(Which just goes to show that Ed Koch is an idiot because no one with an IQ higher than that of a toaster has a high regard for Bill. But I digress.)

I got Bill Donohue’s news releases pretty much weekly when I covered religion back in the mid-1990s. To judge from them as well as this latest incident, he is insane and an utter sociopath. And that’s a bit of a problem when, as New York Times columnist Bill Keller writes:

when he took charge of the Catholic League in 1993, Donohue could be dismissed as a conservative blowhard, one of those laymen who was, ahem, more Catholic than the pope. [His divorce notwithstanding — Lex.]  But the official church has moved far enough to the right that Donohue now speaks for its mainstream.

Bill Keller has been wrong about many things over the years. But if he’s right about this, then the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership has become an undisputed threat not only to Reform Jews but to all Americans — and needs to be treated accordingly. The Clan of the Red Beanie, as Charlie Pierce frequently calls them, doesn’t seem to understand that we’ve already had this argument, in 1787, and their side lost. The fact that they continue to seek to impose on all Americans, not just their own congregants, public policies that would unquestionably increase total human suffering in this country significantly merely demonstrates the wisdom of the prevailing side all those years ago.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 7:05 pm

Why John Cole is better than The New York Times

John Cole was a Republican who supported invading Iraq in 2003.

Bill Keller is the editor of The New York Times, whose flawed reporting contributed significantly to the perception that the U.S. needed to invade Iraq.

Here is what Bill Keller says about his role in that fiasco:

Where does this leave me? The world is well rid of Saddam Hussein. But knowing as we now do the exaggeration of Hussein’s threat, the cost in Iraqi and American lives and the fact that none of this great splurge has bought us confidence in Iraq’s future or advanced the cause of freedom elsewhere — I think Operation Iraqi Freedom was a monumental blunder.

Whether it was wrong to support the invasion at the time is a harder call. [Emphasis added; see below — Lex] I could not foresee that we would mishandle the war so badly, but I could see that there was no clear plan for — and at the highest levels, a shameful smugness about — what came after the invasion. I could not have known how bad the intelligence was, but I could see that the White House and the Pentagon were so eager to go that they were probably indifferent to any evidence that didn’t fit their scenario. I could see that they had embraced Chalabi, the exile cheerleader for war, despite considerable suspicion within the State Department and elsewhere that he was a charlatan. I could have seen, had I looked hard enough, that even by the more dire appraisals of Hussein’s capabilities he did not amount to what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. called in a very different context “a clear and present danger.” But I wanted to be on the side of doing something, and standing by was not enough.

And here is what Cole — who, by the way, is no longer a Republican — says about what Bill Keller says:

What a bunch of mealy-mouthed bullshit, particularly the highlighted part. The war has been a complete and total disaster, and you don’t just get to grant yourself absolution by claiming it was a tough call. The simple fact of the matter is that warmongering cheerleaders like me and Keller got it wrong. The difference between me and Keller is I have the balls to admit I was wrong. Lots and lots of people with the exact same information we had got it right. Not only did they get it right, but they were chided and derided by folks like me, and in some cases were investigated by the CIA or had their covert cover blown.

So STFU, Keller. You were wrong then, as was I, and you haven’t learned a damned thing in the decade since other than the most important thing in our modern political and media environment is to never admit you were wrong.

For the record, I, too, supported the invasion, mainly because of the claims that Saddam had or was close to getting nuclear weapons and because I naively believed that the U.S. government wouldn’t lie us into a war again (remember the Gulf of Tonkin?). And I, too, was wrong. I apologize for that. I take a little comfort in the fact that I didn’t chide or deride those who disagreed with me, but not much.

And I think Cole’s larger point is crucial. Those who were right — about Iraq, about the housing bubble, about the widespread mortgage fraud — are still being chided and derided. Certainly they were not being given positions of responsibility and authority as a reward for their having been correct. Hell, they’re almost never even showing up on the Sunday-morning talk shows. Meanwhile, toads and worse like Doug Feith and John Yoo are rewarded for their wrongness. (Keller, for his part, should have lost his job over Judy Miller alone.)

Behavior like that is not how a great country stays great.

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