Midday Open Thread
- Although U.S. car sales perked up in the last five months of 2009, they were still the Worst in 27 Years. America actually “lost” some 3.6 million cars last year because 14 million were scrapped, while 10.4 million were bought, according to a report by the Earth Policy Institute. It was the first time since World War II that scrapping exceeded sales and reduced the total cars on the road from the all-time high of 250 million by 1.5%. EPI’s Lester Brown thinks that’s a good thing.
Market saturation may be the dominant contributor to the peaking of the U.S. fleet. The United States now has 246 million registered motor vehicles and 209 million licensed drivers — nearly 5 vehicles for every 4 drivers. …
No one knows how many cars will be sold in the years ahead, but given the many forces at work, U.S. vehicle sales may never again reach the 17 million that were sold each year between 1999 and 2007. Sales seem more likely to remain between 10 million and 14 million per year.
- Anti-abortion protesters have started wearing birght orange vests with the words “Pro-Choice Clinic Escort” outside a Louisville, Kentucky, clinic to trick patients into believing they are there to help them.
- Not too surprisingly, scientists have found Serious Emotional Disturbances Among Children After Katrina.
- Did anybody clap as Arnie made more promises he can’t keep in his last State of the State address?
- If U.S. policy is going to have any chance of success in Afghanistan, Thomas Ricks writes, it will have to improve greatly, according to Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan written by Army Major General Michael Flynn and Marine Capt. Matt Pottinger (formerly of the rock band Blind Dog Whiskey). And that doesn’t just apply to the military escalation there:
“An NGO wanting to build a water well in a village may learn, as we recently did, about some of the surprising risks encountered by others who have attempted the same project. For instance, a foreign-funded well constructed in the center of a village in southern Afghanistan was destroyed — not by the Taliban — but by the village’s women. Before, the women had to walk a long distance to draw water from a river, but this was exactly what they wanted. The establishment of a village well deprived them of their only opportunity to gather socially with other women.
- Uthman al-Mukhtar reports that assassinations and bombings have brought fear back to Anbar province in Iraq.
- Heather Hurlburt and Kelsey Hartigan of the National Security Network have co-authored a very nice piece debunking the same tired nuclear weapon mistruths repeated yet again by the Wall Street Journal editorial page. An excerpt:
WSJ Claim: The warning comes in a recent letter from 40 Republican Senators and Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman reminding the President of his legal responsibility under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 to present budget estimates for modernizing U.S. nuclear forces along with any new Start pact.
Fact: The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) already continually refurbishes U.S. nuclear warheads. Every year, the Departments of Defense and Energy spend approximately $30 billion per year to ensure that the US nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, and reliable. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 commits the US to “modernizing “the nuclear weapons complex” and “infrastructure” (ie the labs, research and safety and security facilities) – not, as the Senators and the Journal assert, “weapons.” [National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, p. 394.]
– Plutonium Page
- The view that Employer Health Costs Drive Wage Trends gets a debunking in a report from the Economic Policy Institute.
- Why was the crotch bomber missed? Too much surveillance, not too little, says Glenn Greenwald.
- It’s the end of the world for the Democrats, says John Mercurio at Politiscope:
Ten months before the 2010 midterms, we apparently know this much for sure: Democrats face a doomsday scenario. They’ll lose anywhere from 10 to 400 seats in the House and eight to 100 in the Senate. … Elections in November have a funny way of tossing aside conventional wisdom from January (or, for that matter, late October).