Provocative

Some opinion pieces I’ve attached to my Google Reader today.

1. Jon Taplin: Jobless Recovery

Can’t help feeling this makes sense, but who am I to say?

…We are about to enter a new era of green manufacturing: solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, high speed rail and hybrid cars. We need to build these technologies in America. Fortunately companies like GE are getting on board to return their factories to the U.S., but we also need to protect the start-ups against aggressive Asian and European dumping. As Fletcher points out the notion of the tariff is embedded in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. We should not be afraid to use it. Cynics will say we have no power over the Chinese because they would sell their huge portfolio of Treasury Bills if we ever levied a tariff on their solar panels. This is nonsense. As Bill Gross would tell you, the Chinese can’t unload $1 trillion worth of bonds overnight and any large sale would become a self-fulfilling prophecy to the downside. Let’s say they try to sell $1 billion of bonds worth $100 each. The next morning the value of their remaining portfolio of $900 billion might be cut by $100 billion as the market reacted.

As I’ve said for two years, America is entering a new era of lowered consumption and increased savings and investment. It is foolish to think that the 45 year old men in the New York Times article are going to find jobs in high finance or high tech. If we do not begin rebuilding our manufacturing economy we will enter an era of civil strife and conflict that will make the recent Tea Party rebellions look tame.

2. The Israel conundrum according to Jeremy Ben-Ami: A Profound Choice for Israel and the World’s Jews

I’ve written about this on my older blog, but normally leave it alone. It just gets so heated…

… The diversity of opinions is remarkable; the depth of passion unmistakable.

But I take away from the whole experience a troubling sense that beyond any particular issue of the moment — beyond Iran, Goldstone, Jerusalem, settlements, or Danny Ayalon –  there is a fundamental conflict rising up to face the Jewish people as a whole.

There is in our community — and by that I include the whole of world Jewry as one people from Israel to the U.S. and around the globe — a struggle developing between two camps with radically different visions of Jewish expression in the 21st century.

On one side of this struggle are those committed to our vision of time-honored Jewish and democratic values — grounded in respect for “the other,” a tolerance for dissent, and a willingness to sacrifice territory for peace.

On the other side are those who seem willing to muffle dissent, view all conflict as zero-sum, and place retaining captured land and territory at the center of its value system.

For a while now, it has been popular to say that for Israel there is a choice ahead between the land, being Jewish, and being democratic.  Many leading Israelis have come to see that it’s possible only to have two of the three…

3. Clive Hamilton’s ongoing series Bullying, lies and the rise of right-wing climate denial

Journalists hit

Journalists too have become the victims of cyber-bullying. I have spoken to several, off the record, who have told of torrents of abusive emails when they report on climate change, including some sufficiently threatening for them to consult their supervisors and consider police action.

One was particularly disturbed at references to his wife. Another received the following from someone who gave his name and identified himself as medical representative at major pharmaceutical’s company:

"You sad sack of s**t. It’s ok to trash climate change sceptics yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, you become a vindictive, nasty piece of s**t not able to face the fact that you’re wrong about climate change and you’re reputation is now trash."

Anonymous emails are usually more graphic.

"Your mother was a goat f**ker!!!!!! Your father was a turd!!!!!!! You will be one of the first taken out in the revolution!!!!!!!! Your head will be on a stake!! C**t!"

Few of those on the receiving end of this hatred doubt that the emails are being orchestrated. Scores of abusive emails over a few hours are unlikely to be the product of a large number of individuals spontaneously making the effort to track down an email address and pour forth their rage.

While some individuals act alone, increasingly the attacks are arranged by one or more denialist organisations. It’s fair to assume operatives in these organisations constantly monitor the media and, when a story or interview they don’t like appears, send messages out to lists of supporters, linking to the comments, providing the scientist’s email address and urging them to let him or her know what they think.

One or two of the cyber-bullies have hinted at the level of organisation, with one following an abusive rant with the comment: "Copies of my e-mails to you are also being passed out to a huge network for future reference."

Charming stuff, eh!

See also 23 February 2010: Who is orchestrating the cyber-bullying? Tomorrow: The Exxon-funded think tanks that feed climate denial.

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