A problem with public transportation: the federal government is closed today because Washington's subway system is closed. This Washington Post article has details.
At 1 PM, it is sprinkling lightly here in DC; it's a bit breezy but nothing remarkable. If this region suffers weather-related problems, they aren't expected until tonight at earliest. At minimum, the government could have been open a half-day, and workers such as waiters and taxi drivers who make their living from government trade could have earned some money today. But the main point is that because the city is so dependent on public transportation, the decision on closing essentially was out of the federal government's hands.
Our Capitol Hill office is open, by the way.
...unilateral is "anything done without United Nations approval."
How else to explain their continuing insistence that U.S. actions in Iraq, conducted in concert with and with the support of thirty countries, is "unilateral"?
From a fawning interview of Madeleine Albright in the current (Sept. 22) issue of Time magazine comes this whopper:
Time interviewer J.F.O. McAllister: "Bush's foreign policy started as 'anything but Clinton' in almost every area - the Middle East, North Korea, China. Now events have pushed it back much closer to your approach. Do you ever succumb to schadenfreude?"1. Bush's foreign policy was never defined by opposition to Clinton, but by Bush's belief in certain foreign and defense policy principles. One need not be one of Bush's supporters to realize that Bill Clinton is not the axis around which the world revolves. (100 years from now no one will be referring to a Clintonian foreign policy -- unless it evolves as a term for deciding national security issues on the basis of domestic political considerations.) The much more accurate -- and politically and psychologically interesting -- story is the extent to which George W. Bush's foreign policy differs from his father's.
Albright: "No, I'm much too kind and generous a person."
2. One wonders what the interviewer was smoking when he said Bush now is using a foreign policy approach closer to Clinton's. In what way? Throwing money at North Korea to get North Korea to pretend it isn't building nukes? Believing that Saddam Hussein has WMDs but not caring enough to insist even that UN inspectors be allowed to do their work? Worrying more about polls than about the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden?
A side question: if Bush’s foreign policy has evolved into one like Clinton’s, why were all the Democratic candidates for President so scathingly opposed to it in the debate the other night? Quick answer: Because it hasn’t.
Mercifully, the interview wastes but one page, leading to the Time letters-to-the-editor page. First subject up there: U.S. policy in Iraq. Seven letters against, three in favor.
I guess we should be grateful for the three.
Another note from Mike Catazanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:
Is the Lieberman-McCain climate change bill a good idea? Union members certainly don't think so. On September 9, a coalition called 'Unions for Jobs and the Environment' circulated a letter in opposition to S. 139, the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003. The Teamsters, Boilermakers, Electrical Workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Utility Workers Union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the United Transportation Union, the Transportation and Communications International Union, the United Mine Workers, and Marine Engineers all urged senators to vote against the bill, denouncing it as "a bad idea."
Along with pointing out that there are no "off-the-shelf technologies to reduce CO2 emissions," the UJAE said passing S. 139 would be "tantamount to adoption of the Kyoto Protocol"--a treaty, the unions note, that was officially rejected by the AFL-CIO in 1997--because it would cost "American jobs and economic opportunity."
"It is vital to the health of the U.S. economy," the unions wrote, "that the diversity of fuel use be maintained. Currently, most electricity is generated with coal, followed by nuclear, natural gas, and hydro.
"We are concerned that the burden created by S. 139 would fall disproportionately on coal, thereby making the economy more dependent on other fuels, particularly natural gas--a commodity experiencing substantial price escalations. Viewed in this context, S. 139 is simply a bad idea."
It should also be noted that, in addition to its devastating economic impact, Lieberman-McCain would do nothing for the environment. Just look at Kyoto, which is more far-reaching than Lieberman-McCain. Altero Matteoli, Italy's minister for the environment and territory, said on July 7 that, "Within the framework of [Kyoto], we will manage to reach a 2 percent reduction in emissions at best, but we all know that we need to halve greenhouse emissions world-wide by 2050 in order to prevent further damage to climate."
Now, even if one concedes that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the overwhelming causes of global warming, according to Matteoli, the world would have to reduce emissions by 50 percent to have any effect. Put another way, the world would need 25 Kyotos (or a lot more Lieberman-McCains) to reduce temperatures to an acceptable level (whatever that may be). The Energy Information Administration said one Kyoto would cost the U.S. economy $400 billion annually. Even using (at a minimum) a linear calculation--which is dubious--that's a lot of money for nothing.
This decision seems dumb. The country has lived with punch card machines for over 100 years. In the event of a tight election, the cards could simply be inspected carefully by hand.
I also admit that I am tired of hearing about the California recall election, and would like to see it over with. Purely selfish motive, I admit, but I suspect it is a sentiment shared by many other residents of the 49 states that are not California.
The left, specifically moveon.org and a handful of Republicans, apparently including former Senate majority leader Trent Lott, are attempting to increase government regulation of the news media.
Part of the effort includes a reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which puts so much red tape on broadcasters who express on-air opinions that the modern-day talk radio industry could well be crippled if the doctrine is reimposed.
Rush Limbaugh explains it all here.
In addition, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform has a website dedicated to stopping reimposition of the fairness doctrine.
A few years ago the left launched another attack on talk radio in the form of the innocent-sounding "Lobbying Disclosure Act," which could have been used to force talk radio hosts and in some cases listeners to register with the federal government as "lobbyists" if they expressed an opinion on a bill before Congress. We learned about this from Rep. Tom DeLay, who now is the House Majority Leader, and, using what was then the latest in communications technology, faxes, alerted hundreds of talk show hosts. They informed their listeners, and the Capitol switchboard was flooded with calls. That bill was not approved.
There's more. Read about it in the Guardian.
The era of evicting indigenous people from ancestral lands to make way for protected nature areas and parks will have to end, conservationists were told yesterday.
Pygmies, Bedouins and Bushmen, among others, said they would no longer accept being brushed aside by governments and environmentalists in the name of protecting world heritage sites.
Communities which feel betrayed by the conservation movement have mobilised to turn the 10-day world parks congress which opened in Durban yesterday into a platform for their grievances.
The conference is intended to focus on endangered species and the rise in trans-frontier parks, but 120 disgruntled indigenous groups are expected to seize much of the attention...
Don't get your hopes up -- tort reform is as stalled as ever, or nearly so. But this spoof is still good for a laugh.
Thanks to a single misplaced letter, the landmark tort reform legislation which has been making its way through the House and Senate has been redirected to the Food and Drug Administration...
I don't want to pay more compulsory taxes, but I would make a voluntary contribution to make sure the United States doesn't have to bribe France to help the Iraqi people. Anyone with me?
Has anyone else noticed that, according to Hillary Clinton and others, what the EPA did in relation to Ground Zero is considered the direct responsibility of the White House, but when the EPA released a report on the environment in the waning days of Christie Todd Whitman's tenure there, the New York Times, Bill O'Reilly at Fox, the Boston Globe, the AP and many, many others were incensed that the White House was nominally involved in EPA affairs?
Can't have it both ways, guys.
Mike Catanzaro over at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has sent over a few excerpts from New York Times editorials of today and September 8 regarding the 9-11/EPA/contaminated air controversy:
From September 8:
The Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have been sharply criticized for playing down the potential dangers of exposure to ash, smoke and dust generated by the collapse of the World Trade Center. The inspector general of the E.P.A. has criticized the agency for making overly reassuring statements that could not be supported by any evidence in hand, and blamed the environmental council for pushing the E.P.A. to eliminate caveats and accentuate the positive. Our own sense is that much of the criticism is retrospective nitpicking of decisions made in the midst of a crisis...From today's editorial:
And most residents and workers downtown - while they may well have suffered from the dust at the collapse and periodic wafts from the smoke plume - were largely spared the prolonged exposure that usually raised the greatest health concerns.
But at the same time, the new research underscored how quickly the smoke and its elements dissipated into the atmosphere. The plume was so hot from the intense fires, which smoldered for three months after the attacks, that only sporadically, scientists said, did it touch down anywhere beyond ground zero. Hot air rises, and it went up fast.
What that presents, the scientists said, is a kind of good-news-bad-news formulation. Many ground zero workers and volunteers who labored without respirators - a common sight in the early weeks of rescue and recovery - were exposed to a chemical stew that was probably worse, and certainly more complex in its elements, than previously imagined. And most residents and workers downtown - while they may well have suffered from the dust at the collapse and periodic wafts from the smoke plume - were largely spared the prolonged exposure that usually raised the greatest health concerns.
The 9/10 entry on Gregg Easterbrook's new blog entitled "Grief Does Not Justify Greed" deserves to be read by everyone.
It is about families of some 9/11 victims suing because the payments American taxpayers generously offered to them (but not to other American victims of terrorist attacks) aren't big enough.
I almost didn't post this recommendation because I'm still steamed about an awful piece Easterbrook wrote about those of us who drive SUVs in the January New Republic. However, this blog essay is just too good for me not to recommend it.
President Bush's speech on Iraq Sunday evening showed his leadership and courage in dealing with the war. We're going to need to see that side of George Bush if a good Medicare bill is to be approved this year.
Without presidential leadership of the selfless and gutsy kind, we're likely to see either no bill at all or one that doesn't do much. Either way, the big job would be postponed -- again -- and the more we postpone it, the tougher it gets.
Fortunately, the President knows this, and since this summer, he and his aides have heard an earful about the need for the President to be personally involved in this issue.
There will be a rally protesting the unfair treatment of this Adninistration's judicial nominees in front of the offices of People for the American Way on September 8 at 10 AM, says the African-American leadership group Project 21.
Its been said that Miguel Estrada would have been confirmed by now if he were a white male.
-Heritage Medicare Malady #38, September 5
....Another federal program [is] an excellent model for sorely needed Medicare reform.
It’s the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program or FEHBP. It covers 9 million federal employees and retirees and routinely offers up to two dozen health plans, all of which have prescription drugs. And it’s not some new-fangled program, either. It’s been around since 1960, five years before Medicare started.
The House calls for a pluralistic FEHBP-like system to be in place by 2010. But the Senate does not. Instead, it offers a one-size-fits-all prescription drug entitlement that will cost $432 billion in the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
FEHBP is a good model because it works. Why senators ignore it, we’ll never know.
Gerhard Schroeder says calls within Germany for Germans to join forces in Iraq trying to help Iraq become a stable democracy make him "want to puke."
Jacques Chirac, however, thinks a few oil contracts are worth a puke.
Journalist John Berlau takes an in-depth, and to me, fascinating look in Insight magazine at the extent to which the Kennedy administration used IRS audits to harass and silence critics.
The National Center for Public Policy Research has been audited twice in our 21-year history. Bill Clinton was president both times.