Looks like Virginia Governor Tim Kaine will head the Democratic National Committee. I don’t think I have a real opinion about this — given the current configuration of political power, the DNC is basically destined to be an adjunct of the White House political operation no matter who heads it.
In early 2006, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said of President Bush: “I really do believe this man will go down as the worst president this country has ever had.” This morning on Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked Reid whether he regrets making that statement. Reid refused to back down. “I think you just have to call things the way you see them,” he said. “I really do believe President Bush is the worst president we’ve ever had.” Watch it:
Transcript: Read more
I got an email from a reader the other day saying:
I was wondering if you would consider opening up this question to response:
Do the people of Israel have a fundamental right to uphold and protect a Jewish state?
I ask, not because it necessarily precludes judging the nation’s recent actions in Gaza, but because the passion of the discussions on your blog and others seem to indicate, on some level, a disagreement on this point.
For example, I have noticed some commentators may say “of course, Israel has the right to defend itself”, and then go on to compare it to apartheid South Africa — which is problematic at the least, since nobody would say the Boers had a fundamental right to a Boer nation.
Ditto for criticism of Israel’s “racist immigration policy”, and so forth.
In reply, I said:
Sure. I don’t think Israel has any obligation to give in to, say, demands for an unrestricted Palestinian “right of return” to live within Israeli territory. Nor do I find it especially problematic that Israel uses Jewish ancestry as the basis for its immigration policy. Germany and other countries do the same.
But this is precisely what makes it so untenable for Israel to be exercising sovereign control over the Palestinian territories. What Israel is governing right now isn’t a Jewish state, it’s a binational state in which most of the Arab population is being denied its basic rights. We can see from the condition of the Israeli Arab population that Israel is perfectly capable of functioning as a Jewish state that respects the rights of a smallish Arab minority, but it’s obviously untenable to remain a Jewish state while granting full rights to the Gaza and West Bank Arabs. So under the circumstances, Israel has no choice but to cease governing and colonizing the territory in the West Bank and Gaza.
I’d say that’s a pretty conventional wisdom opinion in the United States. And even to some extent in Israel where really all the Labor and Kadima politicians acknowledge the basic reality of the point. But they’re not actually acting like they believe it nor does American policy really seem to reflect a belief in these points.
What wildly underfunded climate solution can achieve all of these goals simultaneously:
- Slow global warming by increasing the reflectivity of the Earth (geo-engineering)
- Reduce local temperatures in the hottest cities (adaptation)
- Reduce fossil CO2 emissions (mitigation)
- Save U.S. consumers and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs
- DReduce urban smog and hence cardio-pulmonary disease
- Create more than 100,000 jobs in two years?
The answer is a major effort to make roofs (and pavements) whiter and/or more reflective, which should be coupled with a major urban tree-planting effort. This “urban heat island mitigation” (UHIM) may well be the single most cost-effective energy and climate strategy.
[This figure is from EPA's excellent heat island website, showing how urban areas are relatively hotter where vegetation has been removed and replaced with dark, heat-absorbing roofs and pavements.]
UHIM will be the subject of a multipart series. Part 2 will look at a new analysis of the multi-trillion-dollar direct climatic/geo-engineering benefits of a global “cool roofs” initiative [and, no, I am still not a fan of what is commonly called geo-engineering, see here]
Part 3 will present a specific new proposal to use the economic stimulus package to jump-start the UHIM effort. A key benefit of a UHIM stimulus is that it does not require either highly-skilled labor or expensive, uncommon material. Thus, unlike many proposed elements of the stimulus package (green or otherwise), this one can be ramped up quickly.
The rest of this post is an introduction to heat islands, excerpted from a Technology Review article I coauthored, “Paint the Town White–and Green“:
The NYT and AP report:
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico confirmed in a statement released Sunday afternoon that he has withdrawn his name as the commerce secretary nominee, citing a pending “investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government.”
Mr. Richardson says in the statement that he and his administration “have acted properly in all matters,” but that the “ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.”
That is really too bad, because Richardson was a big supporter of clean energy and climate action — and that is quite rare for a Commerce Secretary (see “The first green Secretary of Commerce“). I hope PEBO picks someone else who understands that the future of American commerce is cleantech.
Make no mistake about it, Jeb Bush will be President of the United States someday. Ryan Powers has the video of Poppy mulling the concept:
Now it’s true that the extreme unpopularity of George W. Bush might be a problem here. But consider the 1992 election:
Bush got 37.45 percent of the popular vote — slightly less than George McGovern. Among major party nominees, only William Howard Taft in 1912 turned in a worse performance. And not only was Bush hugely unpopular with the electorate at large, he was also hated by the GOP base. When the base doesn’t like you and swing voters don’t like you, you have a problem. What’s more, as of 2000 everybody already knew that W. Bush was dumber and less accomplished than his dad or than Jeb. But he got elected anyway. So don’t think the fact that people hate our current president will stand in Jeb’s way.
Besides, what choice does the GOP have? The last time they captured the White House without a Bush on the ticket was 1972 — eons ago. Without a Bush, they’ve got nothing. My guess is that it’ll take until 2016 for it to happen, but it could be 2012 or 2020 depending on how things develop in the world.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that the December 18 arrest of the mother of Levi Johnston for the sale of prescription drugs was delayed because of Johnston’s relationship with Bristol Palin during Gov. Sarah Palin’s vice presidential candidacy:
Kyle Young, a troopers drug investigator who was involved in the case, wrote in an e-mail last week to all members of the Public Safety Employees Association, the union that represents troopers and other law enforcement officers around the state…that after it became clear who Johnston was, “this case became anything but normal.”
“It was not allowed to progress in a normal fashion, the search warrant service WAS delayed because of the pending election and the Mat Su Drug Unit and the case officer were not the ones calling the shots,” Young wrote. … John Cyr, executive director of the union, said it’s clear to him that the investigation was handled differently because of who Johnston is.
While the Palin administration is disputing the union’s claims, the union tells the Daily News that it verified Young’s characterization “with the entire drug unit, with all of our members.”
Judging by the volume of ads I’m seeing for CashPoint during the Ravens-Dolphins game, at least one segment of the credit market hasn’t entirely shut down. Indeed, they’re quite eager to lend you money. The way it works is that you go to one of their offices with your car, your car title, and a spare set of car-keys. You need to own the car free and clear. Then they appraise the car, and offer you a loan with no credit check for some total amount of principle that’s less than half the car’s appraised value, and a high interest rate but not quite so high as a payday loan.
Thus, as a lender, you’ve hit upon a risk-free way to make money. In the worst-case scenario, your customer pays back the loan with interest in a timely manner and you make a little money. Alternatively, maybe the customer just never makes a payment and you’ve basically bought a used car for 50 percent off. Or they could make regular interest payments and offer you a steady stream of income. Or they could make payments for a while, and then default letting you repo the car. All in all, a pretty nifty business model. And if you pretend not to know anything about actual human behavior, you could even see all these innovative ways to get into debt as a good thing!
Rabbi Eric Yoffe, President of the Union of Reform Judaism, recently took to the pages of The Forward to attack J Street for expressing skepticism about the Gaza adventure. You can read J Street’s response here. Key quote:
And, when tens of thousands of pro-Israel American Jews are joining with statements made by J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek, Israel Policy Forum and others calling for a ceasefire – it is simply wrong to call these views out of touch with Jewish sentiment.
American Jews are, as Rabbi Yoffie says, by and large sensible and centrist, and they support Israel in her hour of need. But many of those same Jews – and their friends who want the best for Israel – are well within their rights and within the centrist mainstream to question the wisdom of the actions taken this week, to question where they will lead and to ask the US and others to help bring an end to the violence as quickly as possible.
They are also in line with many in Israel, where on Friday, 30 peace organizations (including the Peres Center for Peace, the Geneva Initiative and Peace Now) signed a public call for an immediate ceasefire, joining such pillars of the national conscience as David Grossman and Amos Oz.
There’s more at the link. In addition to whatever I’ve already said about Gaza, let me just say that I find it very troubling how frequently rabbis in the United States decide that adhering to a strong form of Israeli nationalist politics is or ought to be constitutive of being Jewish. You see this all the time in the domestic context, of course, when it’s a commonplace of crank rightwing discourse that failing to muster enthusiasm about any American military endeavor no matter how misguided makes you somehow less American than the proponents of bloodshed. But that really is a crank rightwing position. And Rabbi Yoffe isn’t a rightwing crank — or, indeed, any kind of rightwinger at all. But it’s really just the same situation.
And I think that if people want to be honest, they need to ask themselves how many of them were sitting around the day before Israel started this action not only feeling that it would be smart for Israel to start a massive military action in Gaza but feeling so strongly about it that one would question the Jewish credentials and basic intelligence of anyone who didn’t agree. Frankly, I didn’t hear a lot of Americans taking that position. Then the Israeli government changed its policy, and a lot of Americans decided to agree with the new Israeli policy. Which is fine as far as it goes. But people who didn’t regard the previous policy as unconscionable at the time have no business suddenly deciding that it’s unconscionable to disagree with the new policy.
Haaretz reports that, as Israeli ground forces entered Gaza yesterday, “hundreds of shells were fired, including cluster bombs aimed at open areas.” FireDogLake’s Siun writes, “The use of cluster bombs — which have a large footprint when initially dropped and then remain a threat for decades — in a location like the Gaza Strip which is so packed with people is horrifying.” (FDL notes that video footage seems to confirm the use of cluster bombs.) Last summer, a former Israeli defense official said that “the Israeli military used cluster bombs for two weeks during the 2006 Lebanon war without telling the Israeli government.” At the time, the UN decried the use of the bombs as “completely immoral.”
(Note: The photo shows Israeli forces dropping white phosphorus shells, which “can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.”)
An Israeli soldier was killed in a gunbattle with Gaza militants today, the first since Israel launched its ground operation. “In addition to the fatality, 31 Israel Defense Forces soldiers have been wounded, three of them seriously.” Gaza medical personnel said a woman and four of her children were among the 35 Palestinians killed during an Israeli ground operation today. Meanwhile, “Palestinian terrorists continued their bombardment of southern Israel, firing some 41 rockets and mortar shells since Sunday morning.”
,The Bush administration blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Gaza.