9/11 happened on 9/11/2001. We’re in 5/22/2009. That’s less than 8 years. In his mind, George Bush kept the country safe for 2 presidential terms. Some other dude was President right up till 9/11.
Atrios Thers adds, “NRO contributor attempts to count to 8, fails.” As Matt Yglesias has written in the past, “The overwhelming majority of Americans to ever be killed by foreign terrorists were killed during Bush’s presidency. And even if you give him a pass on 9/11 itself it’s still the case that his conduct of the ‘war on terror’ led to the deaths of thousands more Americans.”
As we’ve seen earlier, it’s not actually true that abortion restrictions are becoming more popular. It’s a bit hard to give a concise description of what public opinion on abortion is saying (people have murky views) but it seems to have been very constant over time. Yesterday’s op-ed from Andrew Gelman and John Sides adds two additional interesting facts into the mix. One is that the partisan divide over abortion rights is pretty new:
Throughout the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, there was little difference among Democrats, Independents and Republicans in their views of abortion. In 1990, 40% of Democrats and 33% of Republicans said that “By law, a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice,” according to data from the National Election Studies. But since 1992, the parties have diverged, and by 2004, that 3-point gap had increased to 19 points: more Democrats (44%) but fewer Republicans (25%) agreed with that statement.
The other is that voters generally aren’t especially interested in abortion:
Half the people surveyed at the beginning of the 2008 campaign described abortion as “extremely” or “very” important in their voting decision – but this was less than the 66% who cared this much about the environment, the 67% who felt that illegal immigration was important, the 83% who felt this way about education, and the 93% who declared the economy to be an important issue. And this survey was conducted in June, a couple of months before the stock market meltdown. When asked what single issue was most important, only 6% of people surveyed named abortion.
It continues to be a bit baffling how dominated debates about judicial appointments are by abortion-related questions. It’s an important issue, but the Supreme Court deals with a lot of important issues. And the driving force behind the abortion-centricity of the arguments doesn’t seem to be overwhelming public interest in the subject.
If we had adopted a comprehensive clean energy program, including a cap-and-trade system, back in 2001 or back at the time of the Kyoto Protocol, then things might have looked very different during the credit boom period. In particular, with cheap money available, large-scale investments in green electricity generation would have looked like a high-payoff investment opportunity. True, any particular investment would have been risky since none of the technology has been deployed on a truly large scale. But the potential upside would have been huge.
Instead we got, well, what we got. And now that the country is getting serious about reforming our energy policies, the climate for financing large-scale investments has become terrible. With markets incredibly risk-averse, it’s difficult for any kind of project that doesn’t have a long track-record behind it to get off the ground. And innovative green technology, by definition, lacks such a track-record. One potential solution would be a government-financed “Green Bank,” as described in a new proposal from Karen Kornbluh and John Podesta.
With congress finally taking action against abusive interest rate policies at credit card companies, some folks have sprouted up out of the woodwork to explain that these policies are the result of delicate free market fine-tuning and all will be ruined by regulation. A great rortybomb post takes a close look and finds this argument badly wanting.
What’s missing is much of anything that could be plausibly described as fun. Director McG–best known for his work on music videos, commercials, and the Charlie’s Angels movies–paints his post-apocalyptic landscape in a palette of sand and steel, as if color itself had been bleached from the world. But in contrast to The Dark Knight (one of the obvious models for this reboot), he fails to imbue his grim vision with any depth, texture, or complexity. A slender, silly movie that is upfront about its silliness (say, Star Trek) can be a giddy pleasure; a slender, silly movie that presents itself as an unflinching portrait of human endurance is setting itself up for failure.
I keep hearing McG’s music video work referenced in negative reviews—see, e.g., Smash Mouth’s annoying years-old hit “All Star”—but in my view the quintessential McG work was the short-lived Fox cop show “Fast Lane”. It was about a small crew of sexy undercover narcotics cops (two dudes who I forget, with Tiffany Amber Thiessen as the boss) in Miami, who worked out of some kind of giant barn full of awesome stuff they’d confiscated from bad guys. The show was terrible, but damn stylish. This scene has Mischa Barton and “Pictures of Success” by Rilo Kiley:
I can’t really stomach the way the Terminator franchise has inconsistent treatments of time travel paradoxes.
In his national security speech Thursday, President Obama addressed the controversy being stirred by conservatives over his decision to close Guantanamo. Obama forcefully said that he inherited a legal “mess” that has consumed his administration’s time and energy:
There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. We are cleaning up something that is – quite simply – a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.
Yesterday, on the Brian and the Judge radio show, Karl Rove was angered by Obama’s critiques of the Bush administration, and he disputed the fact that the Bush administration had left a “mess” at Guantanamo. When conservative judge Andrew Napolitano noted that Obama “does have a constitutional mess on his hands,” Rove responded by saying that the “mess” is being caused by litigation from Attorney General Eric Holder — who is apparently “arguing against the government”:
ROVE: What’s ironic to me is that yesterday he said “this is a mess that was left to me by my predecessors.” No. This is a mess, to the extent that it is a mess, left to him by his friends and allies like Attorney General Eric Holder. Remember, there are DOJ appointees of this president who are in court arguing against the government’s position on these kind of things. I mean, it is his friends and allies and in some instances, his appointees who are in court arguing for an expansion of the rights of the terrorists and arguing for an end to the military commissions.
It’s unclear what cases Rove is referring to. There has been no litigation on the military commissions since Obama took office in January.
The lingering legal mess at Guantanamo, of course, was created by Bush. Obama now must determine “where to imprison and/or try the remaining approximately 250 Guantanamo detainees, many of whom have already been declared eligible for release.” This is complicated by the fact that multiple detainees have not been able to go to trial because of inadmissible evidence obtained through torture or hearsay. The international community is also encountering similar problems in repatriating Guantanamo detainees. Perhaps worst of all, Bush’s kangaroo courts have produced only three convictions.
As Obama noted Thursday, “the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.”
During the markup of the Waxman-Markey clean energy economy legislation (H.R. 2454) on Wednesday, I offered an amendment to improve energy efficiency by encouraging the planting of shade trees to fight global warming, save electricity, and clean the air. My amendment was challenged by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who mentioned that her mother, a long-time garden club member, “received the Keep America Beautiful lifetime achievement award in 1997 for the work that she has done.” The gentlelady from Tennessee asked me whether my program would hurt not-for-profit organizations in the name of fighting global warming:
So, in addition to the U.S. Forest Service carrying out some of this good work, we have garden clubs all around the country. We have Boy Scout and Girl Scout clubs that work on Arbor Days, planting trees. So is it the gentlelady’s intent that all of these organizations will be able to draw down this one-dollar-for-dollar match? Would they use that to grow their programs or would this have the unintended consequence of doing away with the corporate contributions that they receive, the charitable contributions they receive in order to help carry out those programs?
In reality, my amendment establishes a competitive matching grant program for retail power providers to support new and existing tree-planting programs by non-profit organizations — like garden clubs, the Boy Scouts, and Keep America Beautiful. Matching grant programs, which require that federal monies be matched dollar-for-dollar by private donations, actually encourage charitable corporate contributions. I expressed to my colleagues that Congress should set standards for the utilities to ensure the money is well spent and energy efficiency is prioritized.
Rep. Blackburn further argued that this amendment would start “diminishing the work they have done while we say global warming and fighting global warming and paying umbrage to global warming is the objective of the legislation we’re bringing forward.” Fighting what the Garden Club of America calls the “serious reality of global warming” requires everyone to work together – from members of Congress to members of 4-H. Which is why the Garden Club supports “federal, state and local legislation as well as individual initiatives to control greenhouse gases,” and why I offered this amendment.
I believe my fellow California Democrat, committee chair Henry Waxman put it best when he explained to Rep. Blackburn:
I would be interested in whether you think that faith-based initiatives have harmed the religious and volunteer groups that were doing great things in the community, running drug abuse programs, and other things that — where they served a very worthwhile purpose and the government wanted them — to have them do the work and that set of government agencies to do it. So I show you a different aspect of it. I hear what you’re saying and I wouldn’t want those nonprofit groups to be pushed out of the way at all. But I think this would expand it. We would have more opportunities for people to do things together.
The legislation we passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday night is an achievement for the American people, our planet, and for future generations. Once this legislation is signed into law, our children and grandchildren will live in a country that is more sustainable, more economically viable, and more efficient than the country we live in today. And for my hometown of Sacramento, this bill is more than an achievement; it is a necessity.
I’m proud to support President Obama’s challenge to all Americans to work together to repower America and save our planet. Big problems require big solutions, but this one can start with the simple planting of additional trees in our communities.
By Climate Guest Blogger on May 23, 2009 at 11:45 am
Last week House Energy and Commerce members approved by 51-6 an amendment to the Waxman-Markey bill offered by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) to create a clean energy bank . As Greenwire explained, the amendment would “create an autonomous Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) within the Energy Department” that would “provide a suite of financing options, including direct loans, letters of credit, loan guarantees, insurance products and others” for “energy production, transmission, storage and other areas that could reduce greenhouse gases, diversify energy supplies and save energy.” CEDA must adopt a “portfolio investment approach” and “ensure no particular technology receives more than 30 percent of the total funding available.” John Podesta and Karen Kornbluh explain why we need a clean energy bank in a post first published here. The picture is of a worker makes adjustings before a section of a wind turbine is put into place at Energy Northwest’s Nine Canyon Wind Project near Finley, WA, the kind of clean energy project the bank could help accelerate.
The United States is falling behind in the space race of our generation””building long-term economic prosperity powered by low-carbon energy. China’s stimulus package invests $12.6 million every hour in greening its economy, for a total of $220 billion, twice as much as similar U.S. investments. Meanwhile, during the most recent economic expansion the average American family paid more than $1,100 a year in rising energy bills for U.S. policies that favor fossil fuels.
The choice is clear: continue with more of the same energy policies or transition to a clean-energy economy that creates millions of good jobs here in the United States and moves us off our dependence on foreign oil.
The creation of a new Green Bank could lead to the steady and reliable creation of clean-energy jobs and would be a crucial element of the transition to a clean-energy economy.
Second, we have evidence from the natural experiment that is summer vacation. During those three months out of school, the cognitive skills of children in lower socioeconomic status (SES) households tend to stall or actually regress. Kids in high-SES households fare much better during the summer, as they’re more likely to spend it engaged in stimulating activities. In his book Intelligence and How to Get It, cognitive psychologist Richard Nisbett concludes that “much, if not most, of the gap in academic achievement between lower- and higher-SES children, in fact, is due to the greater summer slump for lower-SES children” (p. 40).
The summer vacation issue is something that middle class people tend not to think about. But when you consider it for a moment, it’s clear that there’s a real problem here. After all, it’s not as if the child development process goes on hold just because the weather’s warm. Loving parents continue to attempt to nurture their children’s growth. But parents with more time, financial resources, social capital, and know-how are going to be able to accomplish much more for their children than will low-SES parents. In a 2008 CAP paper, Melissa Lazarín examined the benefits of expanded learning time for English language learners, which seems like a particularly intuitive case of the summer vacation problem. A seven year-old whose parents are fluent English speakers doesn’t halt his English-language development just because it’s summertime. but a seven year-old growing up in a Spanish-dominant immigrant household basically does.
Or simply consider anyone whose parents fall into the surprisingly large category of illiterate adults. If you can’t read, you’re not going to read to your children. But middle class parents do read to their children—teaching them, in effect—whether or not it’s summer vacation.
For more on this I’d recommend “Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions” and CAP’s extensive work on expanded learning time. There are some challenges to improving educational outcomes for the underprivileged that are very complicated conceptually or politically. This one really isn’t. It costs some money, but it’s also very costly to have children grow up with subpar educations.
In an interview posted online by the National Review, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) candidly explained how his party would try to deceive the public during the coming health care debate. Kyl said that although Republicans believe in a “free market” approach to health care, to describe it honestly to the “people we have to convince” would not be “persuasive.” Instead, Kyl boasts that he and his colleagues will use the “hollow buzzwords” prescribed by GOP language consultant Frank Luntz:
KYL: We of course believe the free market can provide the incentives for everyone to be covered with good insurance but to talk about it in terms of the free market is not to be persuasive with the people we have to convince. We have to describe this in terms that people really do understand and care about and that is patient-centered. They don’t want to get between themselves and their doctor. They don’t want to have long waiting lines, possibly even denying care that they feel is important. They don’t want to lose insurance they like already. Those are all things we need to address in our alternatives and I think that’s the best way for us to talk about it rather than talking about the free market.
Of course, Kyl is pretending that for-profit insurance companies don’t already stand in between patients and doctors.
In an interview with C-Span that airs today, President Obama said that the “stars may be aligned” to get health care reform accomplished soon.