I don’t have anything interesting to say about this, but commenters might like a space for a discussion, so here it is.
As a peg, let me suggest the very practical question whether House Democrats should pursue a broad or a narrow investigation, within the bounds of “high crimes and misdemeanours” not bad policies as on immigration and trade.
For narrow: the record of the Ukraine phone call conclusively proves abuse of office; no serious defence possible; gets it over with quickly.
For broad: impeachment will in any case not lead to removal; the object is to educate the electorate about the unfitness of not only Trump but most of his Cabinet and his enablers in the Senate, so lay out all the dirt; the open-and-shut Ukraine count will help shake loose evidence on other offences like money laundering for Russian mobsters.
There are nuances within the broad approach. Take violation of the oath of office to “faithfully execute the laws.” Trump and his minions have instead done their worst to sabotage both ACA and the Clean Air Act. Very dirty pool, but I suspect most voters will treat these as policy choices (maybe very bad ones) not potential abuses of power. There is quite enough to go on without taking this risk.
PS: “Perhaps the horse will learn to sing”. McConnell is a thug, but his own thug not Trump’s. There are circumstances – very unlikely but not impossible – in which Mitch would conclude that Trump is a net liability to the Congressional GOP. We may reasonably question if VP Pence has the cojones to stick the knife in if necessary. There is no such doubt about McConnell.
PS2: If any of my fellow-bloggers chimes in with something more substantial, commenters please shift the discussion to that thread.
Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sent an all-staff email Friday afternoon in an apparent effort to repair damage from an unusual Sept. 6 statement that sided with President Trump rather than agency weather forecasters.
I have obtained a copy of the email and have posted it here. It states that:
Scientific integrity is at the heart of NOAA’s mission and culture, and is essential for maintaining the public’s trust.
Of course, for the government to function properly, all of its component parts must act with integrity. Thus, the NOAA story is but a subpart of the much larger story of a broad-based attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine the integrity of the federal bureaucracy by the Trump Administration.
Going forward, I will attempt to focus on similar examples of this corruption. One question that I would pose to those contributors to the RBC who are from the UK: Is the bureaucracy there under a similar attack? If it either is or were presented with similar pressures, is it institutionally more resistant?
These estimates are not all for the same year and not strictly comparable, but they are good enough to make the point that to reach net zero emissions, the four sectors (together 20% of global fossil emissions) cannot be ignored.
The challenges are distinct but they have common features.
technological pathways exist to decarbonise. But these are not
mature, and for the moment they are far more expensive than BAU.
There is no
guarantee or strong expectation that technical progress will ever
eliminate the cost barrier, in contrast to electricity and land
are typical of modern capitalism: they are international and
oligopolistic, with a lot of trade, a handful of large companies,
and a myriad of small ones.
Their products and services rarely have plausible substitutes. (We shall see later on why this matters).
Points 1 and 2 mean that the issue for public policy is not R&D (pace all the Democratic presidential hopefuls) but early deployment.
Recall how we got to cheap wind, solar and batteries. It wasn’t a carbon tax, since that does not exist anywhere in the pure form. Partial cap-and-trade exists in the EU, but it has only just started to bite, after giveaway initial allocations. It was done by subsidies for early deployment to create economies of learning and scale:
In the USA, tax breaks for wind, solar, and electric cars; renewable obligations at state level.
In Europe and China, tax breaks, subsidies, and regulatory privileges for electric cars.
FITs and ringfenced auctions for wind and solar generation in Germany, other European countries, China and India.
The costs of FITs have been large in the past, though the cumulative liability (in Germany for instance) has now almost stopped growing as the few surviving FITs are near market rates. Well worth it of course, especially if you aren’t a German consumer.
The same principle holds for our four problem industries. Carbon taxes are politically toxic, and a coordination nightmare in globalised industries. So what’s the workable second-best kludge?
I’d like to float a possible solution. I’ll take steel as the example. The principle extends to the others ceteris paribus.
I have written here before of my love for books that employ a bonkers narrator to deliver absurdist humor, and I have another gem of that cut to recommend this week. A perfectly ludicrous set of adventures are related in this collection by the is-he-a-genius-or-has-he-just-gone-spare Dr. Martin Smotheringdale, President of the Society for the Preservation of Preposterous Absurdity. Smotheringdale introduces the reader to a strange society via a series of investigations into mysterious problems, which through diligent effort he usually manages to make worse.
The hilarious stories in this book are reminiscent of Douglas Adams in being suffused with high-end scientific nonsense, from quantum kittens to a clowder of Schrodinger cats to black hole spaghetti makers. This reflects the day job of the author, Professor Shane Darke, an eminent addiction researcher whose work I have cited on many occasions (including in this interview by my fellow RBCer, Harold Pollack).
Each tale include many drolleries line by line that made me laugh out loud, and the collection is greater than the sum of those parts because the comic inventions build on each other: the poor chap who has his ears reversed in the first tale, the Perpetual Irritation Machine, and the Hypercube, among other off-the-wall concoctions, return for well-timed bows in the tales that follow after the stories that introduce them to the reader. And the best story in the book — The Ghosts of Gridley Gorge — is a joke within a meta-joke that is as brilliantly constructed as anything Evelyn Waugh, Lewis Carroll, or Punch magazine, ever pulled off.
On top of all that, it’s a good buy, just five bucks on a Kindle or 10 to 15 dollars in paperback depending where you look. You can find it at many on line booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
A Norwegian consultancy comes up with a bafflingly cute one.
This chart, or whatever you want to call it, is from a report on the global energy transition by the big Norwegian consultancy DNV-GL. It’s not wrong or misleading so much as baffling. A new type of Tufte failure, perhaps. For their next effort, I suggest adding animated Teletubbies skiing down the mountaintops.
I frequently hear the claim that “doctors have just stopped prescribing opioids”. The truth is that U.S. doctors prescribe fewer opioids than they did 5 years ago, but the U.S. still dwarfs the world in its per capita prescribing even among the heaviest prescribing nations. For details, see my latest piece at The Washington Monthly.