Ward One council member Jim Graham is circulating the following proposed map for a new specially-branded, limited service bus along the lines of the existing Circulator or Metro Express lines. I’m having a hard time evaluating it, because this proposed route involves a very small number of stops, one of which is very close to my house and another of which is very close to my office, so obviously I have a strong personal interest in seeing it adopted:
Dave Alpert has further ideas. Whether or not this route is adopted, I think there’s a very strong case for painting (and enforcing!) dedicated bus/bike lanes down the bulk of 14th street. Bus service on that corridor is already fairly frequent and popular, and adding bus lanes would allow us to increase the speed and frequency of bus service at low cost and turn the service into something that’s more useful and appealing to the burgeoning population along the corridor.
It’s not clear to me that banning books from your small town library is a political loser in the United States, so when Sarah Palin denied accusations of trying to get some books banned when she was mayor of Wasilia, I figured, hey, maybe we’ve found something she hasn’t lied about. But no. Steve Benen points out that it’s pretty clear she was lying about this, too.
Arnold Kling argues from what amounts to libertarian first principles, asking “How does your having a mortgage loan benefit me?” Tyler Cowen piles on with additional considerations. I think these additional considerations are more persuasive, because one’s initial instinct is to kind of shrug at the irrationality of public policy aimed at pushing people onto the “own” side of the “rent/own” equilibrium as just one of those things that doesn’t make sense but also doesn’t really matter.
The trouble, as Tyler notes, is that these policies are connected to some very real problems. Homeownership reduces the mobility of labor and thereby makes it more difficult to recover from recessions — people can’t just go to where the jobs are. Along those same lines, encouraging people to take their savings in the form of a home exposes them to an unnecessary amount of risk. If the factory in your town closes, you’re going to want to draw on your savings. But nobody’s going to want to buy your house in the down where the factory just closed down. These same policies also encourage people to live in bigger houses than they would otherwise buy, which is bad for the environment.
After listening all the problems currently facing the country, Whitehouse asked the experts whether anyone thought drilling was the “number one issue” right now. Almost nine seconds went by with complete silence:
WHITEHOUSE: Gentlemen, we’re in the middle of a near total mortgage system meltdown in this country. We have a health care system that burns 16 percent of our GDP, in which the Medicare liability alone has been estimated at $34 trillion. We’re burning $10 billion a month in Iraq.
This administration has run up $7.7 trillion in national debt, by our calculation. And there is worsening evidence every day of global warming, with worsening environmental and national security ramifications. In light of those conditions, do any of you seriously contend that drilling for more oil is the number one issue facing the American people today?
WHITEHOUSE: No, it doesn’t seem so.
House Republicans have spent the past month claiming that their political stunt was “America’s greatest hour” and the “2008 version of the Boston Tea Party.” Not only are they out of step with energy experts, but according to recent polls, the majority of the American public believes that the economy — not drilling — is the most important issue facing the nation. More here and here on why drilling isn’t the answer to lowering gas prices. (HT: Get Energy Smart)
The McCain plan for health care involves working with governors to develop state-by-state high-risk pools to cope with the fact that McCain’s main federal proposal would make it impossible for sick people to get health insurance. So how’s Alaska look? Here’s your answer courtesy of Peter at the Wonk Room:
Based on the high risk pool in her state, Palin’s advice would clearly be to create a high risk pool that: offers very expensive coverage, puts as much burden on individuals as possible, excludes preexisting conditions, and limits benefits as much as possible.
Alaska’s pool is one of the smallest in the country, with 510 enrollees (end of 2006). And, Alaska is one of the most expensive programs in the country—the total cost per enrollee of the program is $18,569 (when you include the enrollee premium spending and subsidies). In the US, the average family premium for an employer sponsored health plan is roughly $13,000—yes, that is for a whole family, not for an individual in Alaska.
This, like the rest of McCain’s plan, is part of the larger conservative philosophy that the main problem with the American health care system is that it’s too focused on delivering care to people, rather than on cutting back service levels.
This video of my former boss Bob Kuttner arguing with Sean Hannity is pretty funny:
It’s fascinating to me that Hannity’s talking points are still to deny that we’re experiencing any economic problems. I thought the current line from the conintern was to concede that the economy is bad and pretend that conservatives have plans to fix it.
Conservatives have long disguised their disdain for embryonic stem cell research, the most promising type of stem cell research, by saying they support the practice only in the form of “adult stem cell research.” “Say, yes!,” the Family Research Council tells conservatives to say when asked if they support stem cell research.
In a new radio ad out today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dubs himself and Gov. Sarah Palin as the “original mavericks, stating that a McCain-Palin administration would enthusiastically support stem cell research:
They’re the original mavericks. Leaders. Reformers. Fighting for real change. … John McCain will lead his Congressional allies to improve America’s health. … Stem cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness. … Change is coming. McCain-Palin and Congressional allies,
The ad, however, makes no mention at all of “embryonic” research. In 2007, McCain specifically praised this practice, stating, “embryonic stem cell research…holds the best opportunity to relieve the pain and suffering of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, all these terrible debilitating diseases.”
As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.
Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.
“We’ve always been a little concerned that Senator McCain may have voted for this, but would he be there in the long term when he is the president of the United States versus just a senator?” said Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., who supports McCain but advocates the research. [...]
Those who oppose the research are also uncertain.
“He seems to be moving away from that position, but we currently have not heard he’s changed that position,” said Colleen Parro, executive director of the Republican National Coalition for Life.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 13, 2008 at 8:26 am
We all bemoan the low level of scientific discourse in politics. So one might have high hopes for a course, textbook, and book for the general public all titled Physics For Future Presidents as something that might help educate today’s students and hence tomorrow’s leaders to be able to deal with basic science.
How dismaying then that the book is full of opinions and misinformation, not science, and that what is being taught would certainly mislead Future Presidents on issues such as terrorism, climate, and electric cars.
Harsh advertisements and negative attacks are a staple of presidential campaigns, but Senator John McCain has drawn an avalanche of criticism this week from Democrats, independent groups and even some Republicans for regularly stretching the truth in attacking Senator Barack Obama’s record and positions.
Not only is it strange to refer to McCain’s lying as “stretching the truth,” it’s odd to make the active clause here the fact that McCain “has drawn an avalanche of criticism” for his truth-stretching rather than the fact that McCain is lying. But most of all, there’s no reason the press should treat harsh, negative, accurate attacks as somehow continues with harsh, negative, lies. For example, Barack Obama has often been a supporter of unsound coal liquification schemes. I just put that pretty politely. One could say something harsher and more negative about Obama’s coal record. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Politicians should be harshly criticized for things they do by their political adversaries.
But doling out harsh negative criticism of something a politician actually did is an entirely different can of worms from doling out harsh negative attacks based on lies. The notion that Obama called Sarah Palin a “pig” is a lie — the McCain campaign made it up. It’s not “harsh,” it’s false.