Progress Illinois’ Josh Kalven reports that at an Illinois state fair this past week, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) fully embraced the GOP’s “party of no” obstructionist strategy. Shimkus stated that the Republican “chant for now until Election Day” should be “Just Say No!” “We’ve been saying no for a long time,” he noted. “When President Obama was on the ballot, the Republican response was, ‘Just say no!‘” Watch it:
Saw this Friday and it’s good. Sometimes funny, sometimes suspenseful, and intermittently horrifying—like the Tarantino of yore. It’s a gutsy move to make such extensive use of foreign language dialogue in several different languages (a bit reminiscent of La Grande Illusion in this respect) rather than Hollywood’s more conventional “Nazis speaking to each other in German-accented English.” The movie also does a great job of deploying the historical setting to throw some plot curveballs at the audience.
But aesthetic qualities aside it’s also an interesting example of how Jews and the Holocaust have moved closer and closer to the American cultural narrative of World War II. The war itself is sort of the foundational myth of America’s drive for worldwide hegemony, and the story sort of works better with Jews closer to its center. The reality, of course, is that while rounding up and killing Jews was fairly central to Germany‘s wartime policymaking, and anti-semitism was certainly central to Hitler’s worldview, rescuing Jews from harm played essentially no role in Allied policy. And of course Basterds in an entirely typical way manages to more-or-less airbrush the Soviet Union out of the European Theater despite the U.S.S.R. fairly clearly being the main Allied combatant on the continent.
None of that is a complaint about the movie itself, which hardly presents itself as historically accurate, but it sort of puts into relief the extent to which even less explicitly fanciful cinematic depictions of the war are pretty far out there.
Interesting column from the FT’s Gillian Tett:
But if regulators and politicians are to have any hope of building a more effective financial system in future, it is crucial that they start thinking more about power structures, vested interests and social silence. That might sound like an irritatingly abstract or pious plea. However, it has some very practical implications about how policy is formulated. I will seek to flesh out some of those in next week’s column, in relation to some striking ideas being quietly developed by a few financial officials, such as Adair Turner, Britain’s chief regulator (and, by a happy chance, a former McKinsey consultant too).
Tett’s background as a social anthropologist is showing here. But of course part of the issue is that in our society economists have a lot more prestige than social anthropologists. For the economists who shape regulatory systems to admit the need to start thinking more about power structures, vested interests, and social silence would cut against their own vested interests and undermine the existing power structures.
Why will meeting near-term U.S. greenhouse gas targets be so damn cheap and easy? Because we live in The United States of Waste. The U.S. economy is incredibly energy inefficient, a key reason even strong climate action has such a low total cost “” one tenth of a penny on the dollar. Indeed, as McKinsey recently showed, the U.S. can meet entire 2020 emissions target with efficiency and cogeneration while lowering the nation’s energy bill $700 billion!
As but one more example, the NYT has a little story today that shows even the Department of Energy, like pretty much every major company I have ever worked with on greenhouse gas reduction, fails to take advantage of even the most cost-effective energy strategies:
The Energy Department strives to be a leader in championing energy efficiency. Its Web site lists energy-saving tips, while Secretary Steven Chu calls conservation one of the department’s most important goals.
But at many of the agency’s buildings, even at national laboratories where talented scientists seek technological breakthroughs to save energy, the department has failed to use one of the most effective tools available to any ordinary household: thermostats that automatically dial back the temperature when nobody is around.
A recent audit found that the department could save more than $11.5 million annually in energy costs by properly employing these “setback” controls to adjust the heat and air conditioning at night or on weekends.
Seems obvious. The larger point is that even at an organization devoted to energy, there is very little institutional effort behind achieving savings or reducing waste — something I found out myself when I was there in the 1990s (see “Energy efficiency, the low hanging fruit that grows back“).
This story has many fascinating nuggets in it:
If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, organizers of those town hall meetings protesting any overhaul of health insurance can take this next story as a big fat compliment.
Big oil and coal companies are using their trade associations to organize what would appear to be grass roots protests against the climate bill working its way through Congress. I said appear to be. Marketplace’s Steve Henn has more.
A good story from NPR’s Marketplace (audio here, text below).