ABC News reports that President-elect Obama “has decided to name former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers the director of the National Economic Council, essentially the president’s senior economic adviser.” Also today, Obama named his campaign spokesperson Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary and Ellen Moran of Emily’s List as communications director.
Freedom’s Watch attacks Democratic Senate candidate whose daughter was kidnapped as being soft on crime.
Yesterday, the struggling Freedom’s Watch released an attack ad against Georgia’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin, saying that he “failed to look out for Georgia’s families.” “First he actually helped block stiffer penalties for drunk drivers,” warns the voice in the ad, which echoes previous GOP ads. “And then, Martin voted against tougher sentences for domestic abuse.” Watch it:
Martin’s daughter was kidnapped when she was eight years old. In a new ad, he states, “You never forget the horror of coming face-to-face with violent crime. … I never forgot the way she trembled when she faced her kidnapper in court. That’s why I fought so hard to crack down on violent crime.” Watch it:
In fact, Martin’s tough-on-crime record has been praised by people such as former senator Zell Miller, who is now backing Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in the state’s tough run-off election. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/21/97]
[T]he student was bitten on the arms and legs. Two foreign visitors who saw the attack ran to get help from workers at a nearby refreshment stand, who notified park officials, the employee said.
The student was pale as he was taken away by medics but appeared clear-headed, he said.
“Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn’t expect he would attack,” the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Attacks aside, pandas are super-cute. A photo from my last trip to the zoo:
No attacks that afternoon.
On Thursday, Georgia’s Department of Labor announced that the state’s unemployment levels rose to 7 percent in October, the highest in 16 years; approximately 43,093 unemployed Georgians are looking for work. That same day, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), who is locked in a tough run-off election battle with Democrat Jim Martin, gave a campaign speech on the state’s economic troubles:
It’s imperative that we continue down the road of putting liquidity, integrity and confidence back in the financial marketplace so that we can see the credit market free up and people having the ability to borrow money to to operate and expand their businesses.
However, Chambliss was so busy campaigning that day that he actually skipped the Senate’s vote on the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008, which extended unemployment benefits “by 13 weeks in states with an unemployment rate of at least 6 percent.” Chambliss was one of just four senators to miss the vote. WCTV reported that Chambliss later sent out a press released praising “the passage of the law and [said he] hopes it will help laid-off workers get by while seeking a new job.”
Yesterday, WXIA in Atlanta said that Chambliss claimed he would have voted for the bill anyway. Watch WXIA’s report:
Chambliss has been pulling in a parade of high-profile conservatives to campaign for him at the last minute, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and next week, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
This is old, but Media Matters’ roundup of public opinion data from their “Progressive Majority” report is worth taking a look at.
Uniting my interests in nineties alt-rock and food, last night a friend and I got to pondering “Lake of Fire” (originally by the Meat Puppets, but most famously performed by Nirvana):
Where do bad folks go when they die?
They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly
Go to a lake of fire and fry
Don’t see ‘em again ’till the Fourth of July
It’s hard to imagine frying in a lake of fire. It depending on exactly where you’re positioned vis-a-vis the lake, you might roast (if you’re imagining a concave lake-bed of flames) inside the lake or grill (if you’re imagining a flat lake surface of flames) atop the lake, but to fry you’d need to be in a lake of hot oil.
Here’s some Tim Geithner clippings:
- Here’s Bob Kuttner: “Geithner’s admirers span the spectrum from Republican financial mogul Pete Peterson to liberal Democrat Barney Frank. One can infer from his broad fan base three possible conclusions: Wall Street is so clubby and politically powerful that permissible policy differences just aren’t that great; or maybe Geithner is all things to all people; or perhaps, in a deep crisis, truly talented and effective people can earn broad respect. “
- Here’s Noam Scheiber: “In recent weeks, another financial crisis has ushered Geithner and Summers onto center stage. Geithner has helped guide the government’s response from his perch at the New York Fed; many see him as the most pragmatic voice in a trio that includes Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, two men skeptical of market interventions. “The idea that the Fed did as much as it did–with new facilities, new ideas–the breadth of it is stunning,” says one former Fed official.”
- James Fallows notes Geithner’s background in Asia issues.
- A New York Times profile from back in 2007.
I think it’s interesting that he’s a career civil servant turned political appointee, rather than a guy with a business background conscripted into government service. The financial crisis presents a difficult dilemma insofar as you want policy to be made by people who understand the world of finance, but you don’t want it to be made by people whose personal history in the finance world creates too many conflicts of interest or deep personal investment in the future of various bank executives. Geithner’s biography seem to walk that line appropriately.
The LA Times reports that California’s unemployment rate soared to a 14-year high in October, hitting 8.2%. The most populous state “shed 26,400 people from its payroll last month, raising the total number of lost jobs to 101,300 since October 2007.” Analysts predict “the situation is about to get worse.” The state’s rate ranks third in the U.S., exceeded only by those of Michigan and Rhode Island, at 9.3% each.
Greenwashing is universal, at least at NBC.
Last year, I pointed out the uber-lameness of NBC’s “Green is Universal” week (see “NBC’s Vast Green Wasteland or Lipstick on a Pig“). This year’s was worse. The few NBC primetime shows I watch don’t even seem to bother anymore — if any readers actually saw any green programming outside of the news division, let me know.
But the real farce for NBC is that in the middle of their greenwashing exercise they fired the Weather Channel’s Environmental Unit! You cannot make this stuff up.
OK, in theory, if you were a writer for an NBC show, you could make this stuff up and put it on in the middle of Green Week, but it’d have to be on a ridiculous sitcom that derisively mocks the network, like 30 Rock. Here’s the story:
I’ve gotten interested in Brink Lindsey’s project aimed at liberal/libertarian fusionism for the 21st century. But every time I read something from the Cato Institute on climate change, I can see that it’s going to be very hard to get this particular chicken to fly. For example, here’s Daniel Ikenson writing about some tensions inside the House Democratic caucus between greens and the Michigan delegation. It’s like a postcard from an alternate reality:
The Greens want to show the world that consideration of production costs and consumer demand is passé. It’s all about the product being made quietly and invisibly. Someone should remind them there were no latte stands in the Stone Age either.
Yes, that’s right. Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, etc. want to return the world economy to Stone Age conditions and/or force all productive activity to be done invisibly. Does Ikenson really think this? Does he realize that Pelosi is Speaker of the House of Representatives and Obama President of the United States? If I thought those people had beliefs so crazy, I’d be doing more than writing sarcastic blog posts.
In the real world, “the Greens” believe that the negative externalities associated with carbon dioxide emissions should be priced and limited in quantity.
It’s worth going back to first principles on markets, property rights, and air pollution. To have a functioning market, you need to have property rights. And property rights need to be defined in some way or other. This includes taking some view of the relationship between property rights and particulate emissions into the air. On one conceivable conception of property rights, the Sierra Club could buy up a field somewhere and then assert that its property rights over the field give it the right to exclude any form of air pollution from wafting into its field. On that definition of property rights, which is the one “the Greens” would favor if we really wanted Stone Age economic conditions, industrial production would swiftly become impossible. You couldn’t so much as warm yourself with a fire before neighbors were accusing you of tresspassing for depositing microscopic soot particles in their lawns.
So obviously we don’t define the property rights that way.
Another way would be to say the air is just a kind of free-for-all. You just dump however much of whatever you want into it and forget about it. This is, needless to say, convenient for people who are producing a lot of pollution. But it’s not so convenient if there’s acid rain falling on your roof. Or if smog is wrecking your view. Or if you develop asthma as a result of poor air quality. Or, indeed, if your gets drowned in a flood or your fields go dry or your drinking water vanishes because of climate change. A third way is a find a middle ground. You’re allowed to emit some sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere so that industrial production can continue, but an unlimited amount so as to prevent the acid rain situation from getting out of control. The “green” proposal for carbon dioxide is essentially similar to this. It’s important, economically, that we allow there to be some carbon emissions. But it’s also important that we not have unlimited levels of greenhouse gases making the world hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter with all sorts of deleterious consequences for people’s lives.
There’s nothing intrinsic to the idea of free markets or property rights that forces anyone to adopt the “free for all” view. And there’s certainly nothing intrinsic to it that forces anyone to decide that adopting the third view is an obviously batty plot to destroy the world economy.