Great Easterbrook column today about the harm of SUVs and large pickup trucks. He quotes research showing that not only do these behemoths pollute more than the average car (which is obvious), not only are they a greater risk to people involved in accidents with them (obvious if you think about it), but they actually increase the number of accidents and injuries in the US! It is hard to explain just how common these vehicles are over here, though not as difficult as convincing someone that their lifestyle doesn’t really necessitate an armored assault vehicle with cup holders.

I don’t know how many people I’ve met while in the US, but several hundred would be a fair guess. Of those, there are two who actually need a pickup truck, as they both own farms and have to haul hay and whatnot. I’ve also met one family that probably needed an SUV, as they lived on an unfinished road some miles from the highway in the middle of nowhere in snowy Wisconsin. They had a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Escort.

Note: We are guilty of a small sin in this regard as we drive a Minivan (or People Carrier for those in the UK). But ours is reasonably fuel efficient by minivan standards, we do only 3/4 the mileage of the average American (and less even than the average Brit), it’s our only car, and minivan’s in any case aren’t as bad as SUVs. And only having one car means that we actually do need the extra space to accomodate visiting relatives often enough that it’s worth having a minivan. So that’s why this piece is only somewhat a middle-class angst-ridden whine against whatever you’ve got.


In the UK and some other countries it is not permissible to call a fellow member of the House a liar in the Houses of Parliament (or their equivalents). One might speak of a member’s dissembling ways, his lack of acquaintence with actuality, or his emphasis on material others might consider untruthful, but one may never use the L word.

I use this as a way of introducing the American approach to lies (and the Lying Liars who tell them). In the 2000 Presidential campaign Al Gore got spanked for the many things he said that could be construed as lies. Most famous was his claim to have invented the Internet. The press seized on this and many other examples as reasons why he couldn’t be trusted. Never mind that he didn’t make such a claim, nor that he wasn’t talking about something of particular significance (WMD anybody?): He nearly lied, and the public needs to know!

Now contrast this to Bush Jr’s interivew on NBC’s “Meet The Press”. In it he said:

If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined.

As explained here, that’s a lie. Not an interpretation, or a partisan view, or a biased choice of facts. It’s a lie. Under Clinton it went up modestly (about 3%), whereas under Bush it has risen a total of 31%. So not even a small lie. It’s a lie.

So the press is all over this, right? Well apart from the “Slate” link above, I haven’t found any mention of it outside of a few blogs. No, what’s exercising the press is whether Bush served fully in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, and whether Kerry’s anti-war protests after his service in Vietnam were reasonable or not. Two somewhat important issues, but sidebars to Bush lying. Nonetheless there was an extended piece on this issue on CNN last night, and more links than I care to Google for discussing. Meanwhile, the liar gets off.

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More larding

I barely know what to say…CNN is reporting that children aged 2-5 can learn to watch less television through a set of structured activities and rewards. I really want to write something withering yet incisive about this, but I can’t top the article. How could this not be an article from The Onion? Of course children can watch less TV! In the endless, terrifying wasteland that was the world before television, it was apparently not uncommon for children to amuse themselves for literally minutes on end, and that’s before they needed to rely on their parents for entertainment. For one heartstopping month back in the nineties I actually existed (I can’t really say lived) without TV myself, and while I’ve repressed the details I think I had an OK time (I was in Germany, so it’s hard to be sure).

Next they’ll be telling us that the fat arse of the average American has got something to do with shoving twinkies down their fat heads with both hands. What nonsense.