This is a tale of two bills—a tale that illuminates how policy-making may unfold under the most progressive administration, and the most Democratic Congress, in a generation. And it’s not a tale with an especially happy ending. The target of both bills is carbon. From early on, President Obama has indicated that climate and energy legislation would come second in his administrative batting order, only after health care reform. (Originally, he thought that would mean last fall, but health care was like a hitter who fouled off pitch after pitch.
WASHINGTON -- Toward the end of the health care battle, a beleaguered Obama staff member sent me an e-mail that ended with the words: "Sisyphus was a sissy compared to what we've been through!" Yes, the fight for health care seemed very much like the Greek myth: Every time the White House found itself on the verge of rolling the health care stone up the hill, some event -- say, Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts -- would force it to start over with a new strategy. Alas for President Obama, this will not be the last moment that invites comparisons with Sisyphus.
History Man: The Life of R.G. Collingwood By Fred Inglis (Princeton University Press, 385 pp., $39.50) This is a warm-hearted, affectionate biography of an irascible but brilliant philosopher and historian. It is a model of its kind--warm, supportive, and forgiving; and conceived, as the author says, as a minor riposte to the “moral hypochondria and sanctimonious recrimination” toward everything our ancestors in the twentieth century did.
Richard and Erna Flagg were married in Frankfurt, Germany in 1932. Richard was Jewish, the son of a wealthy businessman. Erna was Protestant; her father, Bernhard Zubrod, was an architect. I had not heard of the Flaggs until a couple of years ago, when I first visited the Milwaukee Art Museum, and found myself lingering over a display of sixteenth and seventeenth-century clocks, fantastically intricate creations, which the Flaggs gave to the museum in the early 1990s.
Earlier this month, the European Commission reported that the EU was on track to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. (Some countries, like Germany and Austria, are flying past their targets; others, like Italy, have lagged behind.) But how much further could Europe go?
Can't imagine anything going wrong with this plan: Beijing is to install 100 deodorant guns at a stinking landfill site on the edge of the city in a bid to dampen complaints about the capital's rubbish crisis. ... Beijing's waste problem—and China's—is expanding as fast as its economy, at about 8% each year. With millions more people now able to afford Starbucks, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other elements of a western, throwaway lifestyle, the landfill sites and illegal tips that ring the capital are close to overflowing. Granted, deodorant guns aren't the only option out there.
It's hard to say, exactly, what the clean, low-carbon cars of the future will look like, but most of the hype revolves around plug-in electric cars and hydrogen vehicles. And why not? Those are both nifty ideas. Yet some of the technology involved still needs plenty of tinkering—plug-ins are at least several years away from becoming a mass-market item, while hydrogen vehicles are going to require a few major breakthroughs before they ever catch on.
The Baroness Ashton is a very unhappy woman. You can see it on her face, poor lady. And even the fact that she is now a “peer”--or should one still say “peeress”?--has not visibly altered her look. She is one of those ugly ducklings who has given her life to social causes, a type we all know. Alas, the outcome of such an existence is very rarely happiness. Take her work as treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), seen as a front by the Soviets, who secretly supplied as much as 38% of its budget.
Shortly after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou took office last fall, he learned that he’d inherited a massive booby prize: a budget deficit that was twice the amount the previous government had disclosed. But, when Papandreou came clean and promised to address the problem, the financial markets reacted violently. Interest rates soared, adding billions in debt-service costs to an already dire budget picture.
For decades, various Chinese officials and outsiders have reassured the world that the country’s Communist Party leadership eventually planned to open up its one-party political system. The regime would undertake major political reforms and liberalization, it was said, to accompany the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in the late ’70s. It was merely a question of choosing the right time. Writing in Foreign Affairs two years ago, John L.