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Team of Rivals

26 Jun

Kudos to the The New Republic for bringing on Jim Manzi as an in-house critic. 

Kudos to Jim Manzi for starting out this new forum by posting a fantastic takedown of Gore/Krugman’s climate cost benefit analysis (or lack thereof).  While this is standard Manzi fare, he gets extra points for having his arguments run next to an oil-splattered web ad from Alliance for Climate Protection’s Repower America.

He Shoots, He Scores

26 Jun

While I very much enjoy Jon Stewart, I generally have a difficult time watching/laughing/discussing/not screaming at the TV when he addresses energy issues.  This, however, is absolutely priceless:

Sucks to Your Ass-mar!

11 Jun

One more digression on the Murkowski vote: since when did asthma become the leading justification to wreak economic havoc via greenhouse gas regulations?  I believe this has been driven by the frequent statements by Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey about his grandchild with asthma during any climate discussion in the Environment and Public Works Committee, as well as the complete inability of most members of Congress to describe the long, complex linkages involved in climate change and its solutions.  Senator Boxer credited Lautenberg’s asthma  testimonial with carrying the day: 

I want to say, as I note Senator Lautenberg standing here, I felt the moment this debate came together was when he came to the floor to make a statement, brief though it was. He talked to us not from his notes but from his heart, about what it means to him as a grandparent to watch a grandchild suffer and struggle through asthma, and as he has noted on this floor on more than one occasion, his family making sure that when this child plays in an athletic tournament or goes somewhere, how close is the emergency room.

This is what we are dealing with today, pollution. And today we said: We stand with the physicians, we stand with the scientists, and we are going to move forward toward a clean energy economy and all of the jobs that will come with it, and all of the technologies that will make America a leader in the world.

I’m not a climate scientist, nor do I play one on Fox News, but I am pretty sure the carbon dioxide- asthma connection is still very much in the developmental stages.  I am fairly certain that no one claims that higher carbon dioxide concentrations, absent higher temperatures, increases the incidence of asthma.  Consider, then, that Congress just voted to allow unaccountable EPA bureaucrats to regulate large swaths of the American economy in order to prevent a tenuously-linked occurence of increased asthma decades down the road when the associated temperature rise occurs. 

Look, I have mild asthma.  I understand some people have it worse, and I imagine it is terrible. Even if there is a correlation between global warming and asthma, there are literally hundreds of other things, from rat feces to pollen patterns to “nature deficit disorder,” that have been associated with these problems. I also suffer from serious seasonal hayfever.  In that case, though, the leaps-and-bounds of non-drowsy, 24-hour, over-the-counter allergy drugs have effectively fixed me (and, in my mind, might represent the greatest innovation in the last half-century).  Unlike Congress, I am both more confident in the ability of the market to bring an effective solution to the problem itself.  I am not willing to do serious harm to the innovative sections of our economy to prevent a chain of linkages that, in the worst case scenario, look like this:

The Perfect is the Enemy of the… State

3 Jun

Glenn Thrush at Politico reports on efforts by Michigan politicians to intervene on behalf of Armando Galarraga and perfection.  My favorite part:

[Michigan Governor Jennifer] Granholm issued a proclamation:

“Whereas, pitching a perfect game is considered one of the crowning achievements of sport, attained only 20 times in the history of Major League Baseball; and,

“Whereas, a perfect game is defined as when a pitcher or pitchers retire each batter during the course of a game lasting at least nine innings; and,

“Whereas, Armando Galarraga retired all 27 players in order, a feat no Tigers pitcher has ever accomplished; and,

“Whereas, an umpire’s missed call resulted in Armando Galarraga being charged a hit that clearly should have been an out; and,

“Whereas, the umpire graciously admitted his mistake after the game ended; and,

“Whereas, video replays unmistakably show Galarraga to have retired all batters;

“Now, Therefore, be it Resolved that I, Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby declare Armando Galarraga to have pitched a perfect game, and I join Tigers fans all across the globe in saluting his unassailable accomplishment — the first perfect game in Tigers history.”

Doesn’t Governor Granholm have more important matters to attend to?  What’s that?  No?  Definitely not? Fair enough.  Perfect.

AP: CONSERVATIVES SHOCKINGLY ASK FOR FEDERAL ASSISTANCE IN CLEANING UP FEDERAL WATERS FOLLOWING OIL SPILL FROM FEDERALLY-LEASED WELL

3 Jun

The AP implies some sort of ideological impurity in conservatives/tea party activists* asking for federal assistance in dealing with the Gulf oil spill.  I know this sort of copy-and-paste journalism is easier than actually trying to understand either conservative political philsophy (as opposed to, say, anarchy) or thinking about the vapidity of the academics you are quoting, but come on.  Sigh:

Take Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican elected in 2007 when Democrat Kathleen Blanco opted not to seek re-election after she was widely panned for a bumbling response to Hurricane Katrina two years earlier.

Since April 20, when a gulf rig exploded and blew out an underwater oil well about 50 miles south of Louisiana, Jindal has been a ubiquitous presence in the fishing communities and barrier islands along his state’s fragile coastline. He’s been out on boats and up in Blackhawk helicopters, doors open, to survey the spreading, rust-colored swath of crude.

Jindal, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, has demanded a stronger response from the Obama administration, accusing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of dragging its feet in approving Louisiana’s plans for protective berms — a plan that took three weeks to approve.

“This oil threatens not only our coast and our wetlands, this oil fundamentally threatens our way of life in southeastern Louisiana,” Jindal said last week.

Jindal is a fiscal conservative who made headlines last year by rejecting some federal stimulus money, then distributing other stimulus funds by handing out oversized cardboard checks to local officials.

Louisiana State University political science professor Kirby Goidel said Jindal’s call for larger federal involvement in the oil spill management contradicts the governor’s usual persona.

“He’s governor largely because of Katrina,” Goidel said. “He knows that it’s important to get out on top of it and be clear if the federal government is not doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s important for people to know that.”

Goidel said he’s not surprised small-government conservatives would seek help from Washington in a disaster that threatens the Gulf’s water quality and everything that depends on it, from the shrimping industry to tourism.

“I think it’s a pretty predictable response: ‘We’ve got a problem that’s beyond our control. Get the federal government in here to take control,'” Goidel said.

Oi.  I’m not going to post a play-by-play of the federal failures that precipitated (caused?) the spill, as the facts on MMS mismanagement are not totally in and others have already done a better job than I am capable.  However, I will point out three things that bug the hell out of me about this piece:

1. You can’t seriously think that asking for federal assistance in cleaning up the spill violates some conservative ethic, can you?  Over the years, Republicans have talked about abolishing a number of federal programs, but I am almost certain that federal emergency assistance in response to crises emanating from federal lands wasn’t a high-priority target.  Add to this the fact that the number one complaint from Jindal was foot-dragging by the federal government to approve his coastal protection proposal for several weeks, and this theme seems even sillier.
2. In spite of his well-documented lack of State of the Union-responding abilities, I am a big fan of Governor Jindal.  He is not, though, a fire-breathing conservative nor a libertarian.  He is a pragmatic problem-solver with excellent managerial skills and mediocre public relations abilities.  The claim that “[h]e’s governor largely because of Katrina” is highly misleading.  His primary campaign was so convincing that he did not even need the nearly-automatic Louisiana runoff election, despite following a natural disaster of an emergency response that was, in large part, blamed on the incumbent Republican President (Did I mention that this was in 2007, in between national drubbings of by-the-book Republicans in ’06 and ’08?).
3. I understand the “gotcha” appeals of these “conservatives violate their small government principles!” stories every time a Republican Governor accepts federal money or a limited government conservative requests an earmark, but they are really uncompelling.  Any person, regardless of how ideologically committed, must make certain compromises and sacrifices in order to work within the system that exists at the time.  This conundrum is even more marked in the context of public officials that, in spite of their campaign themes, represent diverse constituencies.  I am no more troubled by Ron Paul’s earmarks or Governor Schwarzenegger accepting stimulus money than I am about Al Gore’s greenhouse gas emissions.
*Can we just call you all conservatives or libertarians yet?  I understand the desire to not be pinned down by partisan affiliation, but it would really reduce unnecessary verbiage, painful cable news specials by Chris Matthews on the “Rise of the New Right,” and confusing endorsements by random institutions claiming to speak for the movement. 

On the Highway to the Endangered Zone

1 Jun

Over at MasterResource, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis offers a definitive takedown of the various objections to S.J.Res.26, Senator Murkowski’s disapproval resolution to rein in EPA Clean Air Act authority over greenhouse gas emissions.  Focusing on the arguments offered by former EPA Administrator Russell Train in a letter to Senate leadership, Lewis gets it right in terms of both the constitutional issues with EPA’s Clean Air Act expansion as well as the practical incongruence of such an approach.  It is definitely worth the read.

While Lewis is more concerned about the establishment of  national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for greenhouse gases, I am perhaps more troubled by the less-obviously problematic enforcement of an array of technology-forcing standards on individual products/industries, including medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, aircraft, ocean-going vessels, and nonroad vehicles.  NAAQS for greenhouse gas emissions would obviously affect a larger swath of business in a shorter timeframe, but the thought of a combination of a tailored ambient standard with a series of individual product technology-forcing standards by EPA bureaucrats keeps me awake at night.  While the recent experience of joint EPA/NHTSA rulemaking  on light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emissions & fuel economy may have calmed some people’s fears about EPA’s potential interventions, I am certainly not one of them.  EPA’s light-duty vehicle rule involvement was made much easier by the existing blue print (backed by decades worth of NHTSA experience) for CAFE implementation and the general similarities of all vehicles within the class.  Given that Clean Air Act authority offers the ability to develop standards related to fuel efficiency, fuel content, vehicle technology, and use, there could easily be complete overhaul of much more sensitive industries within the fields of transportation, trade, and recreation.

While Obama will inevitably veto any resolution, there are also some very interesting election year politics and mass communicatin’ that may be seen in the June 10 vote.  If I was a betting man, I’d guess that the Murkowski resolution would be narrowly defeated.  However, I imagine there will be enough Democratic support to pass a compromise version of something similar to Senator Rockefeller’s resolution that would disapprove of  EPA regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary industrial sources (and will likely be amended to include language in support of EPA’s tailoring rule).  This approach appears mealy-mouthed enough of a conclusion to satisfy electioneering politicians, while avoiding the overhyped concerns expressed by Administrator Jackson about the effect of Murkowski’s resolution on the light-duty vehicle rule.  However, the intensity of grassroots opposition to anything resembling cap-and-tax (perhaps thrid only to health care objections and concerns and taxes generally) combined with the experience of the Senate  voting overwhelmingly  at the beginning of the session to prohibit the use of reconciliation for a climate change bill makes me think that we could see something unexpected on the Murkowski resolution.