Sweet Iraq panel from the NYT. It’s got Richard Perle and Danielle Pletka and Frederick Kagan and Paul Bremer. That’s four out of the nine slots! Plus you’ve got Ken Pollack, and what Spencer Ackerman describes as “non-liberal members of the reality-based community like Paul Eaton and Anthony Cordesman and Nate Fick.” Representing American liberalism in even the liberal New York Times is Anne-Marie Slaughter all by her lonesome — can’t let too many hippies congregate on one op-ed page.
The military reported today that a roadside bomb attack in Anbar Province killed four marines on Friday in “one of the deadliest” attacks in months on American troops in the province. Though violence has dropped in Anbar in the past year, “recently there have been several suicide bombings and other attacks.”
I had no idea that the economic interests of oil companies were identical with those of the vast majority of Americans. Good thing we’ve got Hillary Clinton, Populist Extraordinaire around to tell us otherwise:
She did not. “I’m not going to put in my lot with economists,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” program. A few moments later, she added, “Elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantages the vast majority of Americans.”
Economists, environmentalists, everyone who’s thought about the issue for ten minutes, etc. I’m not going to say that our public policy should blindly conform to the consensus among the economics profession, but the gas tax holiday is an illiteracy on a much deeper level — there’s simply no support for this idea among people who’ve looked at it in a serious way. That’s not elitism, that’s reality, and what Clinton’s selling is Bush-style misgovernment.
This morning on CNN’s Late Edition, host Wolf Blitzer asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “Where would Sen. McCain change U.S. policy from what the Bush administration is doing right now?” Graham responded:
I think there are a couple areas that would be different. One global climate change. John has been talking about global climate change for many years now. I think he would help lead the world to a solution there.
On the domestic front, I don’t think you’ll have a stronger advocate for limited government than Sen. McCain. And when it comes to foreign policy, I think John can put together the alliances that we need, strengthen some alliances that have been frayed a bit that will help us confront places like Iran. John is his own guy. Good luck making him George Bush.
Ironically, just over a month ago on CNN, Graham refused to say there was any “difference” between the worldview of McCain and Bush.
Graham now wants to claim that McCain is different from Bush on climate change and in working with allies. In reality, McCain has begun sounding like Bush on those issues as well:
– On working with allies, McCain was forced to back down from a proposal to establish a League of Democracies after experts warned it “could damage U.S. interests” by alienating allies. Furthermore, his plan to kick Russia out of the G8 has elicited concern among European allies.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made a stunning statement on the radio show of climate change denier Glenn Beck this week:
… the French are able to generate 80% of their electricity with nuclear power. There’s no reason why America shouldn’t.
The Wonk Room, which has the audio, writes of the interview, “McCain Seemingly Agrees With Glenn Beck That Solutions To Climate Change Can Be Delayed. That is lame all by itself. But the statement quoted above is even more radical. McCain is repeating his little-noticed uber-Francophile statement from his big April 2007 speech on energy policy, “If France can produce 80% of its electricity with nuclear power, why can’t we?”
Why can’t we? Wrong question, Senator. The right question is — Why would we? Let’s do the math.
The U.S. has some one hundred nuclear reactors providing about nearly 100 Gigawatts of capacity (see here) and nearly 800,000 Gigawatt-hours of electricity, roughly 20% of total U.S. power. For the record, France has only 59 reactors, capacity of about 63 GW, generating 550,000 GW-hr (some of which is exported), covering nearly 80% of their usage (see here). [Note to Sen. McCain: France is a much smaller country than ours.]
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR US TO BE 80% NUCLEAR?
Washington Post writes up Color of Change and other activism-oriented African-American blogs. Much as with white activist bloggers, some of the dramatic rhetoric and transformational aspirations seems overblown, but I think the impact is very real and fundamentally positive.
Friends of the Earth, which had earlier endorsed John Edwards (like Peter and a certain Trust Fund Scumbag), hops on the Obama bandwagon, citing his solid climate change plan and his principled stand in favor of good sense on the gas tax question.
Steve Mufson has a good item up on the Washington Post website about how many countries, especially in the developing world, actually subsidize gasoline consumption which, among other things, keeps demand high even in the face of soaring oil prices because customers don’t necessary see the price at the pump.
From an environmental point of view this is, obviously, terrible public policy. It’s also not terribly sound economics. Particularly damaging, however, is the long-run implications of this sort of thing. China has a golden opportunity to look at the problems currently afflicting the United States and decide to pour its burgeoning wealth into building sustainable transportation infrastructure and lifestyles from the ground up, instead of first building all-cars-all-the-time and then trying to retrofit to 21st century realities. Instead, though, they’re subsidizing gas consumption.
Despite the attention given to the anticompetitive effects of gerrymandering on national and state elections, little notice is paid to the least competitive legislative elections in America: its city council elections. In cities with partisan elections, individual competitive seats are rarer than at the national level and there is almost never competition for partisan control of councils. Nonpartisan city council elections are even worse, with virtually undefeatable incumbents and no policy competition of any kind. The dominant explanation in the political science literature for this phenomenon is that the lack of partisan competition in local elections is a result of the issues at play in local politics. Local politics, the argument goes, is not ideological – it is only about the competence with which public goods are provided and the allocation of these goods to different groups. This claim cannot stand up to scrutiny. Debates over issues like policing strategy and urban development are ideological, and voters do have beliefs about them, but there is still no partisan competition.
This paper argues that the explanation for the lack of partisan competition in city council elections lies in the laws governing these elections. Several laws – by my definition “unitary party rules” – serve to ensure that the national parties are on the ballot in local elections and that candidates, activists and voters do not defect from dominant national parties during local elections. When combined with the little information available about individual council candidates, the existence of the national party heuristic on local ballots crowds out other information and the laws create severe barriers to entry for potential local parties. The result is that the vote in city council elections directly tracks the vote in national elections, despite strong empirical evidence that voters have very different beliefs about local and national issues. In cities in which one party dominates at the national level, there is no competition. Thus, local legislatures are extremely unrepresentative of voter preferences and have little democratic legitimacy. Repealing the unitary party rules would spur a rearrangement of the two-party system at the local level and create party competition at the local level.
The basic issue is that beliefs about national issues don’t map well onto beliefs about local issues. The Progressives thought the solution to this was non-partisan local elections, and until recently I thought so, too, but the research indicates that the situation is even worse in non-partisan election cities. I always found the choice voting system used to elect the Cambridge, MA City Council to be pretty appealing and wonder if it would, in some ways, help bring about what non-partisan local elections were supposed to achieve.
I was in New York last weekend and remarked to a few people that I thought the city would benefit from a more strictly schematic subway map. Well, low and behold what’s Men’s Vogue done but get Massimo Vignelli to do a more strictly schematic map of the New York subway system.