by Kieran Healy on October 6, 2005

This is great. Even if there are a few “infelicities”: I’m just hoping for the day when American bartenders evolve to the stage where they understand how to pull a pint of stout. Out here in Tucson it’s hard to find pubs where such people exist, though there is one place that has Beamish on tap.


by Kieran Healy on October 6, 2005

Last week “I said”: I didn’t know anything about Harriet Miers, but figured that while she would certainly be a staunch Bush loyalist, she would likely not be incompetent or a pushover. I think now I was being a bit optimistic, or at least not precise enough. I still think Miers isn’t an incompetent pushover, in the narrow sense that she’s probably pretty good at the job she currently occupies. It’s just that she has no real qualifications at all for a position on the Supreme Court, and there’s no getting around that. “Mark Schmitt”: gets it right here, by noting the curious parallel to the previous round of nominations to the Appeals Court:

The one and only thing to remember about Miers is that she is totally unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court. … there’s nothing there. Take away the George W. Bush-loyal-staffer aspect of her resume, and there’s absolutely nothing except some modest corporate law-firm and bar-association management, skills that are of no relevance to the Court. …

The reason this is so important to say goes back to the fight over the Nuclear Option and the nominations of Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen last spring. One of the big underlying questions then was whether a judicial nominee’s ideology, even way-out-of-the-mainstream ideology, could be a factor in confirmation. A number of us warned at the time that any deal that let an Objectivist crackpot like Brown go through would set the bar for extremist ideology so low that in effect, ideology could never be a factor.

… And that’s why it’s so important to be frank about Miers’s qualifications. Miers is to qualifications exactly what Brown and Owen were to ideology. She sets the bar so low that if she’s considered qualified, then who — other than, say, Jack Abramoff — is not qualified? If Miers is confirmed, it effectively establishes that neither qualifications nor ideology should be a factor in confirmation.

In the meantime, at least it’s been fun to watch the pseudo-libertarian lawyers suddenly shocked — schocked! — as they realize what everyone else already knows about the Bush administration and its appeasement of the hard right. They cheerfully helped feed the crocodile for the past few years in the hope of being granted a few seats on the bench. (Civil liberties? No problem! Torture? Too unpleasant to discuss publicly!). Now find that they’re the ones who have been tossed into its mouth.

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Hard Cash and Climate change

by John Q on October 6, 2005

Tim Worstall gets us past that pesky NYT paywall to link approvingly to a John Tierney column arguing that the way to encourage energy conservation in the US is not to fiddle with standards but to raise prices. Broadly speaking I agree. At a minimum, getting prices right is a necessary condition for an adjustment to sustainable levels of energy use. Nevertheless, the rate of adjustment and the smoothness with which adjustment takes place can be greatly enhanced by the adoption of consistent pro-conservation policies, or retarded by the adoption of inconsistent and incoherent policies.

This is as good a time as any to restate the point that, given a gradual adjustment, very large reductions in energy use and CO2 emissions can be achieved at very modest cost. Rather than argue from welfare economics this time, I’ve looked at the kind of adjustments that would be needed to cut CO2 emissions from motor vehicle use (one of the least responsive) and argued that price increases would bring this about over time, without significant pain.

Nicholas Gruen has some related thoughts

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