The Environmental Protection Agency “signaled” today that “it is prepared to comply with a congressional request for all documents — including communications with the White House — concerning its decision to block California from imposing limits on greenhouse gases.” In a memo, “the EPA’s general counsel directed agency employees” to “preserve and produce all documents related to the decision including any opposing views and communications between senior EPA officials and the White House, including Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.” Before EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson decided to deny California the right to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles, Cheney met repeatedly with auto industry executives.
Okay, reports that China might be ready to freeze greenhouse gas emissions were very premature. The government just released a 44-page report on energy resources. The bottom line:
China promised Wednesday to develop renewable energy for its fast-growing economy but warned that coal consumption will grow dramatically and avoided embracing binding limits on its greenhouse gas emissions.
The report said China will expand measures to exploit its abundant coal reserves — a step that will help to reduce reliance on imported fuel but could sharply raise greenhouse gas outputs.
Our next President will certainly have her or his hands full trying to reign in our emissions and theirs in time to save the planet’s livability.
Death toll of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq war since March 2003.
I didn’t want to irresponsibly speculate that the country is heading for a deep recession based on a single trip to the mall, but since Kevin Drum’s the very model of sober-minded blogging, I’ll quote him on holiday sales:
As for myself, I have no data to offer on holiday sales, but I do have an anecdote. I went out to a gigantic new local shopping center today and business was…..normal. I had no trouble parking, no trouble walking right into the movie theater (Charlie Wilson’s War, flawed but still lots of fun), and the crowds at Borders, Best Buy, and Whole Foods seemed about like normal Saturday levels.
The Saturday before Christmas, I found myself through poor planning driving past a whole bunch of exurban Virginia shopping centers and, similar, things looked distinctly uncrowded. Not empty by any means, but very calm for a Saturday — to say nothing of a pre-Christmas Saturday. There were also tons and tons and tons of half-sold new developments standing around along with a bunch of half-built ones that I suspect may not actually be completed for some time.
Looks like Russia’s alternative to GPS is now nearing completion at least as far as coverage of Russian territory is concerned. Plans are underway to further expand the system. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, really, but it’s a signal of how other countries are coming to chafe under American hegemony and looking for practical ways to undercut it.
At the end of the day, that kind of trend is very bad for us. Consider, say, Iran. If Moscow and Beijing look at Iranian nuclear activities and think to themselves “nuclear proliferation is bad” then we’re in good shape. If they look at Iranian nuclear activities and think “if checks the Americans, it’s okay by us” then we’re in terrible shape. But both ways are valid interpretations of the situation. Under the circumstances, it’s vitally in our interests to create the kind of climate of international cooperation where the odds favor major foreign powers seeing events through the proliferation frame rather than the “check America” frame. Thus far, we’re not doing a very good job of it.
Obviously, I have no idea who in the US would benefit politically from a worsening situation in Pakistan. Unlike others, I won’t even pretend to know. A different question is who deserves to benefit. That’d be whoever has the most sensible ideas about Pakistan. Who’s that? Well, it seems to me that we desperately need to break away from the “trouble abroad, let’s turn to hawkier hawks!” mode of organizing our politics. After all, there was a strategic choice undertaken by the United States of America during the year 2002 to refocus our attention away from Central Asia and the Pakistan/Afghanistan area and toward the Persian Gulf. That was, of course, the “tough,” “strong,” “serious” thing to do.
Then throughout 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 it’s been the case that the “tough,” “strong,” “serious” thing to do is to maintain a massive strategic focus on Iraq in particular and the Persian Gulf in general. Vast quantities of troops, money, and attention lavished on the Gulf was Central Asia languishes. Only cowardly cowards like Brian Katulis though it was more import to focuson Pakistan. But of course when things go wrong in Pakistan, everyone’s stomach lurches in a way that doesn’t happen with problems in Iraq. In Pakistan, after all, you’ve got real nukes and more radicals — trouble there is big-time trouble. But, presumably, there’ll be a lull in the situation at that point. Maybe during that lull people can try to remember that these things are all linked together and that choosing toughseriousness is what led US policy in the region to fall into such a state of drift in the first place.
Priests start brawling in Bethlehem. According to the town’s mayor, “As usual the cleaning of the church afer Christmas is a cause of problems.”
This email from Joe Lieberman found itself in my inbox:
I know that it is unusual for someone who is not a Republican to endorse a Republican candidate for President. And if this were an ordinary time and an ordinary election, I probably would not have done so. But this is no ordinary time — and this is no ordinary election — and John McCain is no ordinary candidate.
In this critical election, no one should let party lines be a barrier to choosing the person we believe is best qualified to lead our nation forward. The problems that confront us are too great, the threats we face too real, and the opportunities we have too exciting for us to play partisan politics with the Presidency.
Of course, left unmentioned here is that a huge proportion of the great “problems that confront us” are the direct results of the Bush/McCain/Lieberman effort to replace traditional internationalism with the daft “rogue state rollback” that McCain campaign on during the 2000 primary. There was at least a point in time when George W. Bush seemed to recognize the folly of this, but it’s always been McCain’s passion.
That’s not quite right, I think, because you can run a coal plant irrespective of the weather so a megawatt-to-megawatt comparison is kind of misleading. That said, the point remains that renewable energy is not some outlandishly expensive hypothetical alternative. If the much-poorer United States of 1957 could afford coal power, the much-richer United States of 2007 can afford solar (and wind, etc.) power. And if the rich world decisively commits itself to renewable electricity, the number of firms trying to find cost-effective ways to deliver this sort of electricity will skyrocket, developing the sort of methods and technologies that can be viable on a mass basis in India and China.
The number of Americans who, as of 1:00 PM today, have signed on to Rep. Robert Wexler’s (D-FL) online petition demanding congressional impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney. Last week, Wexler told Ed Schultz that he launched his website after traditional media outlets rejected an op-ed he had written with his colleagues Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran Wexler’s op-ed outlining why he believes impeachment hearings are necessary.