Archive

  • GLOBAL WARMING: THE GOOD NEWS.

    GLOBAL WARMING: THE GOOD NEWS. I wrote earlier this week about the clever name change that persuaded lots of people to open farms on the Great American Desert Plains. The greatest climate-nomenclature scam of all time, however, was run by Erik the Red , who named the ice-bound island he discovered "Greenland." At the time, the world climate was warmer than it is today, and Greenland, though very cold, did actually support some marginal agricultural production and dairy farming. Consequently, he got a bunch of Vikings to move out there and build a settlement. A few hundred years later, it got colder and all the Norse settlers wound up dead. Nowadays, though, thanks to the munificence of fossil fuel consumption, the world is heating up again. And, according to Der Spiegel , it's getting warm enough to farm Greenland once again . Sadly, way more people live in the destined-for-devastation portions of the world than in the looking-forward-to-less-permafrost portions of the world. It's...
  • CLEAN, GREEN, AND...

    CLEAN, GREEN, AND POPULAR. Let's just take a moment to enjoy this description of Big Business� reaction to this major piece of legislation in the glorious Golden State: Business interests, especially oil companies, were irate and said they felt abandoned by the Republican governor, who had pledged to work for a bill they could support. They accused Schwarzenegger and Democrats of cobbling together behind closed doors a haphazard bill that could create unintended economic chaos. Ahhh. What a difference a few years makes. Remember when it was Cheney and the Big Business interests working behind closed doors to cobble together an energy bill that padded their pockets and accelerated our ecological decline? Yeah, me too. Anyway, this a Schwarzenegger film, top to bottom. Conscious of the perils of running for reelection in California, he's playing up the issue area where his progressive impulses appear genuine: environmentalism. In recent weeks, he's sought a compact with Tony Blair on...
  • POLITICS AS POLITICS.

    POLITICS AS POLITICS. Have I ever mentioned that I hate baby boomers? Sometimes I think this is irrational on my part. Then along comes Andrew Rosenthal 's infuriating contribution to today's New York Times editorial page. In essence, he went to hear Crosby , Stills , and Nash play, started thinking about the old Crosby, Stills, and Nash shows he's seen, waxes nostalgic about the sixties, and demands to know why the kids these days aren't as awesome in terms of mounting an anti-war movement as the kids were back in his day. Well, what's happened is that a broad coalition of boomers who've managed to grow up, along with the vast swathes of the American public either too old or too young to have been at Woodstock, are trying to avoid the catastrophic mistakes made by the anti-war movement in the late 1960s. Specifically, we're trying to not link the war question up with a broad countercultural movement that managed to become less popular than the war itself. Specifically, rather than...
  • I LOVE IT...

    I LOVE IT WHEN YOU POLL ME. There are some interesting results in the new AP/Ipsos poll (PDF). Only a bit over 40 percent of Americans worry about "becoming a victim of terrorism," and the vast majority say they do so only "occasionally" (hell, living in D.C., I'd fit into that category too). That's compared to 56 percent who simply don't fret over the prospect. And only 25 percent think D.C. and New York are more dangerous vacation destinations than before 9-11, while 14 percent think they're safer. Fifty-nine percent of Americans approve of the way Bush has handled terrorism, a stat that makes me think he's not been as successful at connecting Iraq to terror as he had originally hoped. Indeed, when an interviewer asked him last week what Iraq had to do with 9-11, he said "nothing," an admission by the administration that Iraq is now so unpopular that linking the two would poison public feelings on Bush's terrorism chops, not lighten attitudes towards Iraq. All that said, Democrats...
  • THE TWO AMERICAS.

    THE TWO AMERICAS. Charles Barkley , all-time great undersized power forward and potential politician, takes on America's inequality problem: "America is divided by economics. It's the rich against the poor. And the gap is widening. We've got to find a way to uplift poor people. It shouldn't be the haves vs. the have-nots." Sounds good to me. It always seems a little goofy, but at the end of the day I think it makes sense to try and recruit charismatic celebrities to run for office. Barkley on religion ("Religious people in general are so discriminatory against other people, and that really disturbs me") probably isn't going to sell very well at the polls, though I appreciate the sentiment he's trying to express. --Matthew Yglesias
  • A MESSAGE FROM...

    A MESSAGE FROM DR. JOHN. I got a minute with New Orleans legend Dr. John after he performed at the star-studded concert, "New Orleans: Rebuilding the Soul of America," headlined by Wynton Marsalis Tuesday night at the New Orleans Arena. Asked what he wanted liberals in Washington to know about the state of things in New Orleans, he replied, "We been tryin' to get any help here, and there ain't been none comin'... the wetlands has been disappearin' for 50 years, and that's the only thing that protects this state and Mississippi and all down in the Gulf. And since all the money has been, I would say, under corruption for 50 years, has disappeared, and is still disappearin', with FEMA and all of the rest of the people, we're bringin' people back to New Orleans one at a time ." (Emphasis his; take my word for it.) I mentioned that Cyril Neville had told me that some people still don't know where their friends and family members are. " Some people?! " he said, his eyes wide with...
  • The Statistical Discrepancy: A Source of Phony Wage Growth

    A New York Times article today commented on the extraordinary jump in wages over the last two quarters. Before anyone breaks out the champagne, take a look at the statistical discrepancy in the GDP accounts. This might be is a bit nerdy, but there is an important story here. In principle, it is possible to add up GDP on either the income side (e.g. wages, interest, profits) or the output side (e.g. consumption, investment, government) and get the same number. Of course, they never end up exactly the same � you don�t get perfect accounting in a $13 trillion economy. Typically, the output side comes up slightly higher than the income side. (The conventional wisdom is that people might hide income in order to avoid taxes.) This gap between output side GDP and income side GDP is the statistical discrepancy. The big story on the statistical discrepancy is that it fell by $150.8 billion over the last two quarters. The most obvious explanation is that the income side of GDP is currently...
  • KEEP MY SKIN...

    KEEP MY SKIN OUT OF IT. Yesterday, I went to Cato to see right-wing health economist Arnold Kling debate the Washington Post 's Sebastian Mallaby and contrarian progressive economist Jason Furman (who looks more like Chuck Klosterman than any economist has any right to) on his new book, a Crisis of Abundance . CofA argues that our health system suffers from an overuse of highly specialized and technologically advanced treatments. In that respect, it's undoubtedly correct -- modern medicine suffers from a grotesque lack of good treatment data, and I welcome Kling's proposal for a health care equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office (a nonpartisan research facility). From there, we part. Kling's other solution relies on a massive increase in the amount of health costs that come out of pocket. The "very poor" would be subsidized, as would the "very sick" (neither term is defined in his book), but everyone else would be paying for their own care. This makes sense in a very specific...
  • THE WAGES OF MACACA.

    THE WAGES OF MACACA. Elsewhere in TAP blogdom, Steve Benen and Brendan Nyhan both have analyses of the latest news regarding George Allen 's race problems. They're both worth reading, and also provide me with another chance to bring up this picture : That's all. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH VERSUS THE UNKNOWN LOBBY.

    HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH VERSUS THE UNKNOWN LOBBY. This post by Alan Dershowitz , arguing that human rights groups' criticisms of Israel should be dismissed, overwhelmingly focuses on Amnesty International, but does offer up a token attack on Human Rights Watch: The two principal "human rights" organizations are in a race to the bottom to see which group can demonize Israel with the most absurd legal arguments and most blatant factual misstatements. Until last week, Human Rights Watch enjoyed a prodigious lead, having "found" - contrary to what every newspaper in the world had reported and what everyone saw with their own eyes on television - "no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack." Shocking. Now let's look at what the HRW report "Fatal Strikes: Israel�s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon" (PDF) actually says: The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the...

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