Tag Archives: The Atlantic

A better jobs report

It always surprises me the short, perfuntory shrift that most newspapers give to labor and employment news, even at a time when the national mind is almost entirely focused on one word: jobs. This piece in the Washington Post typifies what I’m talking about. There’s nothing “wrong” in the piece, but it doesn’t give enough context for a reader to understand what the bottom line actually is. And the bottom line is that the economy didn’t necessarily add the dismal 80,000 jobs the Post and most newspapers have fixated on; the economy added somewhere between 80,000 and 277,000 jobs, depending on which survey you’re looking at, and the number is likely much higher than 80,000, if the trend of recent jobs (under)estimates continues. I’m not saying the jobs situation is rosy; I’m saying it’s more positive than is being conveyed in most daily media, and could be even rosier, if Republicans hadn’t killed a jobs bill that would’ve funded employment in state government. And why am I saying that? Entirely because of this remarkably concise, interesting and well-illustrated post by Daniel Indiviglio over at The Atlantic, which continues to impress me with the depth of expertise it is managing to recruit and wind effortlessly into the Atlantic’s online offerings.

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The missing filibuster

I’m rushing a bit today and don’t have a lot of time for comment, but Jim Fallows has been on a tear over at the Atlantic about the major media’s inaccurate reporting on President Obama’s jobs plan, pointing out that they keep saying it  has “failed,” in whole and in parts, when actually it has been the victim of a long-running, unprecedented Republican strategy to filibuster any bill that might possibly benefit Democrats or the president. His explanation of why the media approach to this obstructionist strategy is just … plain … wrong makes compelling reading (much more compelling than anything I could possibly tap out today — or, likely, any time). Perhaps more compelling is the entire string of Fallows’ posts on this subject; if you have time,  you should follow them out, which is easy to do from the post I’m highlighting. If you do, you’ll realize that Fallows is not writing inside baseball; he’s setting out a significant, repeated failure of major media to tell the truth. That failure has already had enormous impact on the country and could well have ramifications for who wins the presidency in 2012. I’m not quite ready to say the missing filibuster reportage is the equivalent of the media’s failure to question the Bush administration’s WMD justification for going to war in Iraq. But I’m not ready to rule out an equal sign here, either. And for those of you who wonder: This is not about ideology or partisanship. It’s about a failure of news organizations to do their job that leads to an unfair ideological/partisan advantage.


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Updated wedges. (Climate change, not golf.)

Enviro friends will all know about Robert Socolow and his paper back in 2004 (with Steve Pacala) about the seven categories of action that could be taken with existing technologies to stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 50 years. These categories, or wedges, of mitigation of global carbon emissions became famous and have largely defined the climate change discussion ever since–at least among the fact-based folks who have rational discussion about climate change as science, rather than a liberal political plot.

Today, Socolow reaffirms and updates that original wedges paper–and provides suggestions for improving the terms of climate change debate–in an essay simulaneously published by my employer, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Climate Central. (Socolow, a Princeton University professor, is also a Bulletin Science and Security Board member.) Comments by something of a Who’s Who of major climate scientists are appended to the essay.

This is not just important thinking. Professor Socolow can write, too. This one is worth your time.

Update on the wedges update: Over at the NY Times Dot Earth blog, Andrew Revkin has a lengthy take that includes a lot of wedges background that will be interesting for less-than-fanatic followers of the climate change debate. And even enviro insiders will likely find something of value here; that Revkin is one walking and writing environmental encyclopedia.

Update #2 on the wedges update: The Atlantic‘s inimitable Jim Fallows wrote about Socolow’s essay as well today, along the way providing the usual trove of Fallowsian added value, including a link to a past story of  his, “Dirty Coal, Clean Future,” that is sure to enrage environmentalist coal-haters–or, perhaps, to make them think. After linking to the Bulletin and Climate Central postings, Fallows mentioned this blog, which was unexpected. Thanks, Jim.

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The debt: tax cuts and war

If you haven’t seen these charts and lean even slightly toward the Tea Party point of view, you ought to take a look. The American deficit-debt problem is largely not a result of stimulus efforts to combat a looming global financial meltdown. The problem is almost wholly composed of tax cuts for the wealthy, the economic downturn and the cost of war. Just a fact, and conveyed well by these charts, provided by The Atlantic‘s inimitable Jim Fallows.

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