8 December 09 (pm)

Yucky weather in Peoria; rain, just above freezing; 1 inch on the way tonight then another.

Civil Liberties I love the title of this post. Mr. Randazza is just too shy. 🙂

Climate Change
A scientist (not in climate science) talks about what happens when the ignorant and untrained see e-mail messages between practicing scientists:

I keep meaning to write something substantive about the theft of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, but my day job does sometime intervene. (Over six hundred postdoc applications in theoretical physics, but not to worry — only about 400 of them are in areas related to my interests.) There are some good discussions at Time and Foreign Policy, and you can’t poke your nose into the science blogosphere without reading someone’s take on the issue.

My own take is: what in the world is the big deal? Indeed, I would go so far as to ask: what could possibly be the big deal? Most of the noise has simply been nonsensical, focusing on misunderstandings of what scientists mean by the word “trick” and similar deep issues. And some people got upset when a dodgy paper was accepted by a journal, and they discussed giving the journal a cold shoulder. Cry me a river. […]

And that’s what really puzzles me. I understand the non-scientific motivations of certain climate denialists; in the abstract, they don’t want to accept that the unfettered actions of capitalism can ever have any deleterious effects, and in the concrete, many of them are paid by oil companies. (See this charming “letter to the American Physical Society,” whose handful of signatories includes “Roger Cohen, former Manager, Strategic Planning, ExxonMobil.”) Those are powerful incentives to ignore the evidence.

But what is the incentive on the other side supposed to be? What exactly is the motivation for the nefarious conspiracy of people who are supposedly plotting to mislead the world about global warming? What do the people counting oysters get out of this?

Paul Krugman also wonders about this:

The rage, by the way, is amazing. Nothing gets me as many crazed emails and comments as any reference to climate change. The anti-global-warming people are just filled with hate for anyone who suggests that maybe, just maybe, the vast majority of scientists are right.

And that in turn suggests that annoying liberals isn’t the whole story; no, they’re not enjoying themselves.

What I think is that we’re looking at two cultural issues.

First, environmentalism is the ultimate “Mommy party” issue. Real men punish evildoers; they don’t adjust their lifestyles to protect the planet. (Here’s some polling to that effect.)

Second, climate change runs up against the anti-intellectual streak in America. Remember, just a few years ago conservatives were triumphantly proclaiming that Bush was a great president because he didn’t think too much […]

So they’re outraged, furious, at the notion that they have to listen to guys who talk in big words rather than sports metaphors.


President Obama gave a talk on job creation and economic growth.

Robert Reich says that the President is trying too hard to stick to the middle ground, which isn’t a good thing:

Barack Obama is trying once again for balance. On the one hand, he wants enough government spending to offset the timid spending of consumers and businesses. Otherwise, the jobs and wage recession could drag on for years. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to set off more alarm bells about the budget deficit. Otherwise, conservative Democrats might join forces with Republicans to block heath care. So what does he do? A little bit more stimulus spending, but stimulus spending that doesn’t look like more stimulus because it’s not really adding to the deficit. It’s coming out of savings from money already authorized to be spent on the bank bailout. Hmmm?

No president in modern times walks a tightrope as exquisitely as this one. His balance is a thing of beauty. But when it comes to this economy right now — an economy fundamentally out of balance — we need a federal government that moves boldly and swiftly to counter-balance the huge recessionary forces still at large. […]

There is no reason to tolerate this degree of misery. We know exactly what to do. The government has the fiscal tools to do it. Start by bailing out state and local governments (if Congress would prefer to call it a loan and require payback over the next five years, fine). Renew unemployment and COBRA benefits. Increase federal spending on infrastructure. If we have to, hire people directly. The package should be $400 billion over two years.

We don’t know exactly how much the President is proposing to spend, but sources tell me it’s in the range of $70 billion, redirected from the $200 billion in TARP savings. The President’s small, calibrated attempt to balance a stimulus with deficit reduction will in fact make the deficit worse over the long haul. It postpones the day when we’re back to near full employment, when almost all Americans who need a job get paychecks on which they pay taxes. This isn’t really balance at all. It prolongs the economic imbalance.

Paul Krugman points out that he cannot comment until he knows what the numbers are:

As I understand it, what the administration is trying to do is leverage an inadequate amount of money into disproportionate job creation. Hence the jobs tax credit and the cash-for-caulkers program, each of which might — might — produce many more jobs per buck than a conventional stimulus. Basically, it’s about making policy in the face of a dysfunctional Congress.

But even so, it can’t be done without a significant amount of funds. If Robert Reich is right and it’s only $70 billion, it’s a Potemkin policy — all facade, virtually no substance.

How big do the numbers have to be to make it serious? It’s hard to see much impact with less than $200 billion — and what I really want to see is that including all the pieces, from COBRA extension to state aid, it’s much bigger than that.


December 9, 2009 - Posted by | atheism, Barack Obama, education, health care, morons, obama, politics, politics/social, republicans, science

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