Like Atrios, I recently concluded that while the professional blogger lifestyle affords many benefits, I was also driving myself crazy hunting for wifi networks I could hop on. The better alternative was to sign up for a Verizon wireless broadband account and get a nifty USB modem. The per month cost strikes me as more than would be worth paying for most people, but if Verizon wants to give me a corporate sponsorship and pick up the tab for mine I’m happy to revise my opinion on that and recommend that folks who don’t blog for a living sign up as well.
“Nobody takes care of what everybody owns.”
In case any of you thought conservatives were actually coming around on the climate issue, take Grover Norquist (please!). He is head of Americans for
destroying the global commons Tax Reform and “arguably Washington’s leading right-wing strategist,” the “Field Marshal ” of the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
Norquist makes one of the most unintentionally revealing comments I’ve ever heard from a hard-core anti-government conservative about the inherently destructive nature of modern U.S. conservativism. It occurs at the end of a short N.Y. Times magazine interview today (see here). Let me start with Norquist’s paean to self-destruction:
This week, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson will be leaving office under a cloud of ethics investigations. But less examined than his corruption was his inattention to the housing crisis. During Jackson’s tenure, “foreclosures for loans insured by HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have risen and default rates have hit a record high.” The Washington Post reports:
In late 2006, as economists warned of an imminent housing market collapse, housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson repeatedly insisted that the mounting wave of mortgage failures was a short-term “correction.”
He pushed for legislation that would make it easier for federally backed lenders to make mortgage loans to risky borrowers who put less money down. He issued a rule that was criticized by law enforcement authorities because it could increase the difficulty of detecting and proving mortgage fraud. [...]
They contend that Jackson ignored warnings from within his agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose inspector general told Congress that some of the secretary’s efforts were “ill-advised policy” and likely to put more families at risk of losing their homes.
At the same time, Jackson “launched a new $7 million auditorium and cafeteria” at HUD’s headquarters and used taxpayer money to solicit an “emergency bid to obtain oil portraits of Jackson and four other HUD secretaries.” He also insisted upon a personal chef and security detail.
John Quiggin notes that despite mutually re-enforcing arguments from extreme environmentalists (“deep greens”) and dead-ender polluters (“dark browns”) that reducing carbon emissions to a sustainable level would be incompatible with maintaining high and growing material standards of living, the actual economics suggests that we can cut emissions and keep getting richer without that much trouble at all if we implement the right policies in a timely manner.
This morning on ABC’s This Week, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley repeatedly confused Tibet and Nepal while discussing President Bush’s decision to attend the Olympics. At least 8 different times, Hadley said “Nepal” when talking about the human rights abuses that have taken place in Tibet. A portion of the interview:
HADLEY: The president is going to the Olympics. The president is going to — thinks that the way to deal with the issue of Nepal is not by a statement that you’re not going to the opening ceremonies and say therefore, I’ve checked the Nepal box…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he may not go to the opening ceremonies. You just don’t want to say it.
HADLEY: No, the president is going to the Olympics. What he’s doing on Nepal is what we think the international community ought to be doing, which is approaching the Chinese privately, through diplomatic channels, and sending a very firm message of concern for human rights, concern for what’s happening in Nepal, urging the Chinese government to understand that it is in their interest to reach out to representatives of the Dalai Lama, and to show, while the whole world is watching China, that they are determined to treat their citizens with dignity and respect. There is an opportunity here. And if countries are really concerned about Nepal, we shouldn’t have this sort of non-issue of opening ceremonies or not.
Nepal is not Tibet. Nepal is an independent country that is holding elections this week, while Tibet is a land occupied by the Chinese. They are separate geographical regions — see map below:
On Fox News — which was taped before This Week — Hadley correctly referred to Tibet (see the video here).
,President Jimmy Carter was on ABC before Hadley, discussing the fact that he is in Nepal to monitor elections. Hadley’s Tibet/Nepal confusion appears to have stemmed from listening to Carter talk about Nepal.
I’ll just steal this from Mark Kleiman:
According to the FBI, in 2006 there were 17,000 murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the United States. According to the Institute of Medicine, “Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year.”
We shouldn’t, in my view, be complacent about either of those statistics. Not only do most other rich nations not face our kind of levels of lack of health insurance, they don’t have our levels of violent crime either.
Photo by Flickr user ernstl used under a Creative Commons license
I’m going to count myself as bitter about this new not-really-legal spying initiative as well: “Democrats say Chertoff has not spelled out what federal laws govern the NAO, whose funding and size are classified. Congress barred Homeland Security from funding the office until its investigators could review the office’s operating procedures and safeguards. The department submitted answers on Thursday, but some lawmakers promptly said the response was inadequate.”
At the end of the day, Jane Harman is a pretty hawkish Democrat — usually a bit too hawkish for my taste — but she’s saying once bitter twice shy about what she calls her “firsthand experience with the trust-me theory of law from this administration” and wants a fuller account. Seems like a good idea.
In the span of 30 seconds on this morning’s Meet the Press, former Cheney adviser Mary Matalin offered a series of bewildering, eye-opening statements in defense of the Bush administration.
Asked who John McCain should pick as Vice President, Matalin offered that the candidate must have “good cred on having experience across the board.” She argued:
Dick Cheney has changed the nature of that office. This brilliant man has made that office completely relevant.
Indeed, Cheney — who has argued that his office is not “an entity within the executive branch” — has changed the nature of the office in many destructive ways, operating in secrecy and callously disregarding the views of the American public.
Host Tim Russert then asked whether Condoleezza Rice would make a suitable Vice President. Matalin said:
You know, people don’t know about Dr. Rice is that she weighed in on every domestic issue before the President.
Recall, Rice was the National Security Adviser to Bush in his first term before becoming Secretary of State. Despite having a very thin record on domestic policy issues, she was apparently one of Bush’s key domestic policy advisers, too.
When Russert noted that the selection of Rice would signify a “third Bush term,” Matalin responded, “People are sick of this Bush-bashing stuff.” In fact, as a recent Gallup poll shows, people are simply sick of Bush. Watch Matalin’s comments:
In honor of Barack Obama, Tyler Cowen says “If I think about what makes me bitter, it is highway and roadway construction and bad airports and the attendant delays.” What makes you bitter? I’m bitter about the way Meridian Hill Park and the street design in Adams Morgan makes it so difficult to get from my house to the Amsterdam Falafel Shop even though it’d be really close if i could fly.
UPDATE: NB, the map here assumes I’m driving, but since I don’t have a car I would actually be walking but this is more-or-less the route I need to take even on foot.
It seems they’re now arresting people for dancing around midnight at the Jefferson Memorial. Offhand, one might think the legal issue here is that the Memorial is supposed to be closed to the public at that hour, but that’s not the case, instead it’s a vague disorderly conduct charge.