Politics

Bush gets it from all sides

Poor guy

Poor Bush, he just can’t get a break. He announces a shiny new climate-change strategy, and what does he get? Nothing but grief. Nancy Pelosi called it "the same stale proposals he has repeatedly put forward to the international community." Al Gore called it "purely and simply smoke and mirrors [that] has the transparent purpose of delaying the efforts that could start now." Dan Froomkin called it an "attempt to muddy the debate about the issue and derail European and U.N. plans for strict caps on emissions." Britain and Germany are not amused: Britain and Germany yesterday joined forces to …

The new conservatism: Like the old totalitarianism

Whatever happened to local control is good?

From Organic Consumers: Failing to suppress grassroots control over food safety laws and labels in the last session of Congress, industry has now called on their friends in the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry to slip a similar poison pill into an obscure section of the voluminous 2007-2012 Farm Bill. The provision would give the White House appointed Secretary of Agriculture the power to eliminate local or state food and farming laws, such as those in four California counties banning genetically engineered crops, and set an ominous precedent undermining states' rights.

Brooks and Shields act out the bankruptcy of elite Beltway opinion

Watch at your own risk

I was going to wrap this into a previous post, but this kind of spectacular cluelessness deserves its time in the spotlight. Watch two mandarins of Beltway "moderation," Mark Shields and David Brooks, discuss Bush’s "new" climate strategy: Astounding. You really could not ask for a more crystalline example of the intellectual tics that have come to substitute for thought among the D.C. media chattering class. A couple of things to note. The first and most glaring is that throughout the entire discussion, neither Shields nor Brooks analyzes or even so much as mentions the merits of the new strategy. …

Being careful about the word 'voluntary'

More on Bush’s climate strategy

My post yesterday said what needs to be said about Bush’s "new" climate strategy, but this passage from Dana Milbank’s hilarious column today is too good to pass up: “Will the new framework consist of binding commitments or voluntary commitments?” asked CBS News’s Jim Axelrod. “In this instance, you have a long-term, aspirational goal,” [Bush environmental advisor Jim] Connaughton answered. Aspirational goal? Like having the body you want without diet or exercise? Or getting rich without working? “I’m confused,” Axelrod said. “Does that mean there will be targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and that everybody will be making binding …

The real cost of property regulations

Regulations may increase rather than decrease property value

UPDATE 6/8/07: The study I mentioned in this post was was based on data collected and analyzed by two researchers at Oregon State University. Those researchers, William Jaeger and Andrew Plantinga, have produced a more complete report (pdf) containing a full economic analysis and no editorializing. The conclusion, however, is basically the same: there's no evidence to support the claim that Oregon's growth management protections have harmed property values, at least in aggregate. When Measure 37 was up for a vote in 2004, supporters claimed that Oregon's planning laws were so draconian they reduced property values by $5.4 billion per year. That eye-popping figure may be one of the central reasons voters were inclined to support the measure. (Voter support has since severely evaporated.) As it turns out, however, that $5.4 billion cost to Oregon's property owners was a chimera. To unmask the $5.4 billion illusion, Georgetown University's Law Center just published a rigorous empirical study of trends in Oregon property values and found that all those land-use regulations have cost, well, not much at all. In fact, they may have added value, at least on average. I won't walk blog readers through the whole study, but the Georgetown report should be required reading for those following the issue closely: it represents by far the best-researched examination of the question to date. Perhaps the most damning finding is one of the simplest: a comparison between property values in Oregon and other states from 1965 to 2005. As it turns out, Oregon's highly-regulated property slightly outperformed values in neighboring California and Washington, though it lagged Idaho by a little. Oregon also outperformed the national average.

Honey, pack up, we're moving to ... Minnesota!

Who knew the stoic people of Minnesota were so advanced?

Wow, we hear about California this and California that, occasionally some Vermont or Oregon thrown in, once in awhile someone will know that Texas is a wind capitol. But I can't remember anyone ever mentioning that, when it comes to a serious program to address global heating, Minnesota rocks! Just for comparison, note how weak and pallid Oregon's renewable energy standard (which only applies to electricity, not energy) is compared to Minnesota's comprehensive greenhouse gas law. From the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Al Gore and politics

Al Gore: When the inevitable question came — his intentions about 2008 — he said politics “rewards a tolerance for artifice, repetition, triviality that I don’t have in as great supply as I might have had when I was younger.” … “I think there are a lot of things about politics as it has evolved that I’m not really that good at,” he said. “Some people find out earlier in their lives that they’re not good at what they’ve chosen to do.” He interjected a self-deprecating laugh. Then he turned serious again. “And I’m not being falsely humble. I think …

Wider, but still paper thin

Reality checking the polls

Public opinion polls show a significant increase in the number of Americans who support strong climate action. Deeper digging shows this support is superficial, too thin to drive the rapid sociopolitical change now required. For the first time, however, a small, but measurable number of Americans -- probably no more than 3% -- identify climate change as the greatest threat. U.S. environmentalists' carefully buffered climate narrative, calculated to not frighten the majority, does not engage these "three percenters." A significant shift in U.S. public opinion on climate has been measured in recent polls. 27% of those polled in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll between May 4-6, 2007, said global warming is "extremely important" and 26% "very important." 33% believe that global warming is the "single biggest environmental problem facing the world," according to a April 5-10, 2007 ABC News/Washington Post Poll, up from 16% in March. Public support for "immediate action" on climate has increased to 34% in January, 2007, from 23% in 1999, according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal tracking poll. When asked to choose what is most important -- either in open-ended polling questions or picking one issue from a list -- climate change, and environmental issues in general, are barely mentioned:

Bush's 'new climate strategy'

Shockingly, it’s the same as the old climate strategy

Today’s headlines are full of the news that President Bush is "unveiling a new climate strategy." If your immediate reaction is cynicism, well … looks like you learned something over the last seven years. Let’s look a little closer. In a speech today, Bush said he wants to convene a series of meetings of the 15 major GHG emitting countries to hammer out “global emissions goals.” To give credit where it’s due, there is considerable symbolic significance to the news that the U.S. is shifting from a stance of truculent foot-dragging to active engagement. Perhaps he’s desperate for a PR …

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