David Roberts: “Get the lead out: Have we already forgotten this lesson?“
The elimination of lead from gasoline is a paradigmatic triumph of American environmentalism. A danger to health was discovered by scientists. Public-health advocates and greens pushed and pushed for decades, often futilely, to get the government to take action. When EPA finally cranked up efforts to do something about it, the agency was viciously attacked. Industry shills said it was an agenda to control Americans’ lives, driven by scientists who wanted research money and a cabal of extreme environmentalists. They said there were no viable alternatives to lead and the regulations would raise gas prices and destroy the economy. They paid their own scientists to produce counter-evidence. They flooded politicians with money. Over time, EPA weathered the assault and put standards into place — a “phasedown” program in 1973, followed by stronger standards in 1982, 1985, and 1995.
Since then, scientists have discovered that lead is far more harmful than originally suspected. Implementing the standards was cheaper than anyone, even advocates, had projected, and the effects greater and more beneficial. Now lead has been removed from gasoline virtually worldwide.
Charlie Pierce: “The Religious Frenzy of a Court You Can’t Believe In“
What exactly are these people praying for? Are they praying for a return to the way things were? For the denial of health insurance due to whatever the whimsical opinions of corporate bureaucrats determine to be a pre-existing condition? For the right to be thrown into an overpriced, endlessly gouging “marketplace” the moment when you turn 25, and you’re burdened anyway with usurious student loans? Are they praying that the law be upheld? That the central place the insurance industry holds the way we do health care in this country be guaranteed in what looks like perpetuity, with the government’s power behind it?
… One consequence of the very weird debate we’ve been having about contraception, and its place in the overall scheme of things in the ACA, has been to inject the always ameliorating element of religious frenzy into what already was a debate so carried off by emotion that it had departed the actual reality of the law two years ago.
… What the injection of religion into this controversy accomplished, and it was neatly done, was to remove the opposition to the ACA from the realm of secular politics so as to enable it to continue in the face of a decision that upheld the law. That’s the outcome for which those people are praying. They are praying for the religious immortality of their political positions.
Timothy Noah: “Language Cop: ‘Christian’“
Christians aren’t some twee boutique demographic. Christians represent the majority. About 78 percent of Americans self-identify as Christian, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. What NPR and Fox and Sony mean when they say “Christian” is “Christian right” or “Christian conservatives,” terms that adherents don’t like because they think they’re pejorative. “Fundamentalist” and “evangelical” are imperfect substitutes because a.) the two categories, though they overlap a lot, aren’t precisely the same; and b.) some of these folks consider themselves political liberals. (The worldly Cold War liberal Reinhold Niebuhr called himself an evangelical Protestant.)
What conservative Christians really like to be called is “Christians.” Hence “Christian rock” and “Christian college” and now “Christian film.” This strikes me as terribly presumptuous. Bruce Springsteen was raised Catholic but he doesn’t perform anything these folks would accept as Christian rock. Wesleyan was founded by Methodists and named after John Wesley but evangelicals would never call it a Christian university. “Christian” has become a euphemism for “acceptable to the type of Christian (in most instances Protestant) who frowns on homosexuality and wishes Saul Alinsky had minded his own business.”
Stephen M. Walt: “Top 10 Lessons of the Iraq War“
Lesson #10: Rethink U.S. grand strategy, not just tactics or methods.
Because it is not clear if any U.S. approach would have succeeded at an acceptable cost, the real lesson of Iraq is not to do stupid things like this again.