Fred Thompson says he’s against gay marriage but that a constitutional amendment to prevent state legislatures from deciding he’s wrong would be a bad idea and says federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo was a bad idea. What’s more, his thoughts on Iran, while not really fantastic, do show some elements of openness to reality-based thinking as in his acknowledgment that “it may backfire on us if we attack them.”
On Oct. 17, President Bush explained that he vetoed Congress’s SCHIP expansion because the White House wasn’t “dialed in in the beginning.” But as The New York Times reports, the White House was heavily involved, but unwilling to compromise:
Senator Hatch tried to bring White House officials into the negotiations, believing their involvement would produce a better bill. But, lawmakers said, the administration did not want to discuss the child health program except as part of a broader discussion that included the president’s tax proposals. [...]
But after checking their calendars, lawmakers said they and their aides had had more than 35 meetings and telephone conversations on the issue with [administration officials] Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Hennessey and Ms. Goon from January through September.
Kevin Drum looks at some Andrew Gellman charts and concludes that while richer states are less religious than poorer ones, “Interestingly, there appears to be no correlation between income and religiosity within states.”
But that’s not really what this second chart says. Rather, as Gellman puts it “overall we see a positive correlation between income and religiosity in poor states and a negative correlation in rich states.” Basically, if you live in a poor state, then the richer you are the more likely you are to go to church, whereas if you live in a rich state it’s the reverse. I wonder to what extent that finding might just reflect a U-shaped distribution of church attendance with people in the middle more likely to be observant than those at either extreme. I also wonder how this would look if we used educational attainment instead of income.
It looks likely that the Writer’s Guild of America, of which my father is a member, is probably going to go on strike tomorrow primarily over the studios’ unwillingness to pay so-called “residuals” — money that writers get when their shows or movies are shown on television or released on video — in digital media. The union explains the issues here if you’re interested.
Obviously, the entertainment unions are pretty small in terms of membership, but they’re one of the best examples out there of the idea that working people can advance their interests through unions even outside of traditional “hard hat” or public sector industries.
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s decision to suspend the constitution, seize emergency power, and round up leading opposition figures is bringing quiet joy to the State Department. “Thank heavens for small favors,” an aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, referring to Musharraf’s actions. Compared to Pakistan, “Iraq looks pretty good.”
Despite President Bush’s claims that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons that could trigger “World War III,” experts in and out of government say there’s no conclusive evidence that Tehran has an active nuclear-weapons program.
Seems like an important point! Nevertheless, Like Muhammed ElBarradei and the IAEA this McClatchey outfit would have a lot more credibility if it hadn’t gotten Iraq so wrong. I’ll put my faith in George W. Bush and The Weekly Standard instead.
I think the discussion still holds up, and as you can see, I am no Johnny-come-lately to the global warming issue. What is particularly sad about the Bush administration, is that while they eschew the anti-clean-technology rhetoric of Reagan and Gingrich — indeed claim to be pro-clean-technology, they have gutted some of the best clean tech and energy efficiency programs. In particular, they have slashed the budget for the Energy Department’s major pollution prevention effort, the Industries of the Future program (described briefly in the article), and the President has proposed zeroing it out entirely.
This Administration’s energy and climate policy make the final sentence of this article, sadly, as true as ever: “Only a misbegotten ideology could conceive a blunder of such potentially historic proportions.”
A pretty insightful Tom Friedman column notes that what we really need from India (and China) is for economic growth there to be paired with an effort to leapfrog the United States in terms of green development, with rising national income going into high-speed trains and clean, efficient mass transit infrastructure rather than into building the sort of vast network of highways, parking lots, gas stations, and car-dependent sprawl that we have.
In principle, this should be doable. Transitioning a place like the United States to a more green-friendly country is very challenging precisely because so many of us have so much invested already in high-carbon lifestyles. If India just puts sensible policies in place in terms of road and parking pricing, land use, and transit funding then Indians ought to be able to painlessly grow richer in an ecologically sustainable manner. After all, since right now Indians are mostly getting by without either cars or quality transit options, it’s not a question of giving anything up. Obviously, though, nothing along these lines is going to happen unless the right countries — and especially the richest country of all — shows a determination to start moving away from our current model.
Asked about his views of waterboarding this weekend, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said that as President he would support the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques. In an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, Giuliani claimed such techniques are effective and that he used “intensive questioning” as a federal prosecutor in New York to elicit information from the mafia:
I do know a lot about intensive questioning and intensive questioning techniques. … Now, intensive questioning works. If I didn’t use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of mafia guys running around New York right now and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is. Intensive question has to be used.
While claiming “we should not torture,” Giuliani has been ambiguous in describing the exact interrogation tactics he approved, but he maintains they were “very aggressive”:
“They got ‘em because we arrested them, we got very significant charges on them, and we questioned them for long, long periods of time. With very aggressive techniques.” [LINK]
“I think putting people under some degree of pressure is done all the time…I did it to get information from the Mafia.” [LINK]
Giuliani’s vague statements raise questions as to what kind of “techniques” he endorsed as a federal prosecutor, and specifically, how he parses “the line between” torture and intensive questioning. Recently, Giuliani joked about the use of sleep deprivation and said he was “not sure” whether waterboarding constituted torture.
After the Introduction and an explanation of “The Coming Oil Crisis” and “Abandoning the Solution” the next part of “MidEast Oil Forever?” (subs. req’d) is a discussion of the “The Renewables Revolution.”
One of the great energy tragedies of the 1980s is that President Reagan gutted the renewable energy R&D budget (and the entire clean energy budget) — a stunning 90% cut in key technologies — just as America was assuming technological and marketplace leadership in core areas like wind and solar power.
One of the great energy tragedies of the 1990s is that the Gingrich Congress blocked the Clinton administration’s efforts to significantly ramp up renewable and clean energy funding, which could have restored US leadership in technologies that even then were obviously going to be the foundation of major job-creating industries in the coming century.
Wow — I just stumbled across an online PDF of “MidEast Oil Forever?” that isn’t behind a firewall. Hmm. I guess I didn’t need to post it online myself. Well, I only have one more major section after this, so I’ll just post them both today.
Here is what we wrote on renewables: