Staniford Gives Drum a Pep-Talk on Not Giving in to Despair in the Face of Climate Change

The other day my man-crush Kevin Drum made a depressed and frustrated-sounding post (Is it time to start adapting to climate change?) in which he basically framed the climate change issue as an either/or choice between working for mitigation to prevent catastrophic warming (which, as he points out, is looking increasingly like a vain pursuit), and pursuing adaptation and geoengineering.

I immediately reacted, at least in my head, with “um, it’s not an either/or question. We have to pursue mitigation, and continue to pursue mitigation, because ultimately that’s the difference between a livable planet and a non-livable planet. And we have to do adaptation, both because a significant amount of warming is already locked in, and because local adaptation efforts represent a path that can take us beyond the current toxic information environment on climate. And finally, geoengineering is something to explore, sure, but that exploration needs to be done in a way that’s mindful of its costs and limitations, not as a way of trying to punt responsibility for solving the problem into a vague and largely ignored future.”

But I’m all about obsessing over The Lizzie Bennet Diaries these days (irony noted, yeah), so I didn’t actually respond to Drum’s post. Thankfully, my other man-crush, Stuart Staniford, was up to the job: Avoiding defeatism on climate change. He starts with the following chart, and gets more and more awesome from there:

The whole post is a must-read for anyone who cares about climate change, and is despairing in the way that Kevin Drum is. Yes, from a certain perspective the problem of climate change is super hard. But like any super-hard problem, you solve it one manageable piece at a time. And even if you can’t see all the steps ahead, you can see well enough to know what needs doing now. So do that. If thinking about the whole job makes you want to curl into a ball and give up, well, I guess you’d better not spend quite so much time thinking about the difficulties inherent in the whole job. Just do the piece in front you. Once you’ve dealt with that, you can move on to the next piece.

67 Responses to “Staniford Gives Drum a Pep-Talk on Not Giving in to Despair in the Face of Climate Change”

  1. shcb Says:

    sure didn’t take them long to blame this on global warming did it?

  2. enkidu Says:

    Isn’t a common phrase to describe these kinds of catastrophes ‘a century storm’ ‘century flood’ etc? Indicating that these things happen every hundred years or so. Maybe more maybe less. But now suppose we could look back at the past, written before we already made our minds up that ‘climate change’ is a hoax because socialism, why we might be able to tease some signal out of the noise. Discern some data, relate it to the present and so on. If we are having an increase in ‘anomalous weather events’ ‘century storms’ century droughts’ maybe just maybe things aren’t quite so peachy as the deniers would have us believe. Also, cigarettes are good for you! mmmm mm Chesterfields, so mild

    So, how many ‘century storms’ outside of the typical until we can start to see a pattern of increasingly anomalous weather? Human activity is shaping our planetary biome. Get over it. Now realize we, the human race, have a stake in preserving our commons. No no it isn’t because socialism, it’s because we need to clean up what the greediest among us have screwed up or we’ll have a whole heck of a lot more misery than is ethically responsible.

    As to the article. We are already doing these things and more. My wife has spearheaded a drive across our district to go to zero waste, zero carbon footprint, 80% renewables (district-wide solar at 80% of need, the remaining coming from a mostly renewable contract with the local energy providers, or efficiency and savings). We’ve rejuvenated the local school garden programs (increasing science and math and art taught in the garden, all grades). Expanded these gardens by about a factor of 4. And as a side bonus, hungry kids are being fed who might not eat otherwise. This is community in action, not socialism. Decency. Responsibility.

    We have got to turn the tide of malinformation flowing from big oil everywhere money can buy opinion. If Rmoney is elected, we’ll delay doing anything for at least another 4 years or more. Not that Obama has done much of anything on climate.

  3. __j__ Says:

    @shcb, of course ‘they’ blame it on global warming, because nobody can prove it was *not* global warming, right? Sigh. @enkidu, yes, the reason shcb is suspicious about the rush to blame the storm on global warming is because, quite frankly, you blame the storm on global warming, and (to pull the argument from authority jcb is fond of using), you have no clue about how the weather works, let alone how the climate works.

    Seeing a vague pattern is NOT the same as proving causality, let alone predicting the future. When you are talking about patterns that stretch across centuries, that goes triple. Looking across written human history, we have never been wiped out by a large asteroid, thus, the dinosaurs could not have been wiped out by a large asteroid, and there never will be a large asteroid that wipes us out. (Oops! garbage in garbage out.) You can prove me wrong about your weather-related skillset, of course, by predicting the precipitation total for some particular month of 2013 on Manhattan Island, the month which your climate-model shows will have Yet Another Century-Storm Caused By Anthropogenic Global Warming. (this is a hard problem, yes… but so is climate science for future centuries… and both of them use exactly the same sort of computer-sims)

    This quote from jcb is the key: geoengineering is something to explore, sure, but that exploration needs to be done in a way that’s mindful of its costs and limitations, not as a way of trying to punt responsibility for solving the problem. (I use the exact same sentence, actually, when talking about mitigation… since one of the “costs” of effective mitigation is worldwide governmental control of the economy via unlimited central taxation.) Point being, although not every scientist agrees that *we* caused global warming, or that we can geoengineer our way out of it in the long run… and not every citizen agrees that the way to mitigate the problem is the bloodily vaporize anybody that dissents from Al Gore… but these arguments are pretty piddly in the grand scheme of things.

    There are some very smart people using some very sophisticated tools that tell us we can expect that the overall temp-change *will* be at least +1C, and more likely +2C, no matter what reasonable assumptions are made, over the next handful of decades. Outside the issue of affixing blame, we absolutely must see that as a challenging problem.

  4. __j__ Says:

    “If Rmoney is elected, we’ll delay doing anything for at least another 4 years or more.”

    If Obama is elected, we’ll delay doing anything for at least another 4 years or more.

    (They really *are* quite similar in their major policies, despite rhetoric & oratory & media. Neither one of them pays any attention to their party-platforms… just their major donors.)

  5. __j__ Says:

    “My wife has spearheaded a drive across our district … 80% renewables … efficiency and savings … local school garden … factor of 4 … hungry kids are being fed … community in action, not socialism. Decency. Responsibility.”

    This is something that I applaud, if and only if, you are funding it privately. Are you using grant-money from the feds, or from the state, for expanding the gardens? For subsidizing the green juice? For delivering food-bundles? In that case, it’s no longer community-in-action, it’s centralized-government-control-of-the-community… which sounds a lot like socialism, eh?

    If you are funding it without relying on government handouts, then give us a link, please. Well, actually, I’d like the link anyways. Does the school have a website about the project? What sort of school is it? Teaching math in the garden sounds more like elementary than high-school. (And you must live in a nice warm climate.)

  6. enkidu Says:

    since one of the “costs” of effective mitigation is worldwide governmental control of the economy via unlimited central taxation


    I just listed a bunch of things we’ve already done but it is all about “worldwide governmental control of the economy via unlimited central taxation”? Really? If I hadn’t read all your previous postings here, I’d say you were joking, but sadly, I don’t think you are kidding anyone but yourself.

    “it’s no longer community-in-action, it’s centralized-government-control-of-the-community… which sounds a lot like socialism, eh?”

    again, total nonsense

    this may be of interest

    Happy Halloween!

  7. __j__ Says:

    (My costume was a blood-sucking politician. People weren’t sure whether to pretend to be scared, or to really be scared. It was the scariest thing I could think of, so I guess it was a success. But prolly next year I’ll just be a wookie, or something imaginary like that.)

    Okay, I agree I didn’t make the case in my one sentence. But you cannot call it nonsense, simply because *you* didn’t understand what I meant. Here’s a few more sentences, think them through, and then point out SOME SPECIFIC FLAW instead of just responding with a one-word ‘answer’ you imagine to be a zing.

    Imagine that Al Gore was prez, instead of Obama, who only pretends to care about Healing The Wounded Planet. You know, and I know, that if Al Gore was prez when 9/11 came around, he would have used it for an excuse to wean us off our oil addiction because global warming threatens everyone. How to get the USA off oil? Cap-n-tax. What is the end result on global warming, even assuming it is 100% caused by humans? Nada. Because the other countries, especially the BRIC nations, are just coming into the mass-produced industrialized world. They all want cars! Not super expensive Honda electric skids, cheap dirty internal petrochemical combustion engines. Al Gore to the rescue: the UN must pass the exact same cap-n-tax laws, for the world, that the USA already passed back in 2002. Then, the UN can tell the dozen aircraft carriers of the good old USA to *enforce* the ban on non-essential use of petrochemicals, such as family cars. Nothing less will do, if you want to keep the temp-change under +1C, right? Hence, my sentence: one of the ‘costs’ (in quotes because it is more like ‘massacres’) of actual so to speak EFFECTIVE MITIGATION is worldwide govt’l control of the economy via unlimited central taxation. If you quibble about ‘worldwide’ and say that we only need to control the economy of populations in the 100 more-industrialized nations, or quibble about ‘unlimited’ in that we only need to tax people severely enough to make petrochemicals impossible, then fine. But the overall point stands: if you want to TRULY mitigate temp-change, by reducing *global* emissions, then you must regulate every industrial economy on the globe, not just our own national one.

    I said, it’s no longer community-in-action, it’s centralized-govt-ctrl-of-the-community. Then you said, with a two-word zinger this time, total-nonsense. Does that mean that your wife’s project *was* in fact paid for via the state education budget, or by federal grant money, or by federal subsidies, or some combination of all of the above? Or does it merely mean are you just too busy to refute my point with actual arguments? Because, if you paid for the project with taxpayer funds, collected by the taxation bureacracy of the centralized government, which granted you back those taxpayer dollars (your own often enough!) but now with strings attached, then your project, and your community, *was* controlled.

  8. __j__ Says:

    Summary of

    Environment + preserving it = environmentalism. One planet + evolution + many species + human organisms + some endangered species + one ‘endangered’ planet. Humans *not* numbered among endangered species, because we are pretty bad-ass, we have tech / industry, we survive in all land-based climes. But, over geological time, big environment-changes, e.g. great oxygen catastrophe. Ecosystems incredibly complex, have non-linear outcomes, slightest goof kills 99% of us. Precautionary principle, never do ‘disruptive’ things, since the slightest goof might kill 99% of us. But, self-interest says the precautionary principle is idiocy. *One* person minimizing their driving, reducing their energy consumption, uneconomically recycling materials, purchasing less gadgets… all that is just hair-shirt-lunacy.

    False assumption #1: we even *can* save earth. Counter-argument: planet 4.6 bya, life 3.6 bya, land-creatures 0.4 bya, homo sapiens sapiens is only 50-to-250 kya, written history ~5 kya, most species last >500 kyl (aka 100x history && 10x lifespan so far). “hopelessly disrupted most of my ecosystems… invasive species… CO2…” No matter what, sun will burn off oceans 0.2 byl to 2.0 byl, then sun will burn land to cinders ~5 byl, “…unless you learn to move planets about.” Timespans like these invalidate commonsense morality: individuals, alive now, likely will not care what happens in 3333 AD, or maybe even 2222 AD. Extinction is impersonally catastrophic… one person’s death as important (to them) as human extinction… itself just an irrelevant abstraction.

    Revised assumption #1: earth, and especially the human species, *cannot* be saved. Seems impossibly unlikely we reach 100 myl, like the thousands of species of dinos did. Hominins are a spectacularly unsuccessful genus — the most recent incarnation killed off all their predecessors — how can we make it that long? Likely we’ll succumb, in a few centuries, or a few millennia, or even (by using non-renewables spectacularly parsimoniously) a few thousand millenia. But some catastrophe will get us: climate change, orbital strike, shrinking ecological niche, whatever. Even if we thrive in the long term, it may not be on terms that are pleasant to contemplate. End/collapse of tech society now, means return to the stone age (or bronze/iron age), with later industrial recovery *impossible* because the low-hanging tech-fruit was all used up. Thus, hunter-gatherer tribalism, or medieval serfdom, until catastrophe.

    So… why preserve env, bio, earth? Needed in the short-term, to keep away personal starvation, worldwide pandemics, and near-term human extinction. But medium-term? Might not matter. Long-term? Impossible. What is the faulty premise? We humans are *not* of central importance to everything, especially in the biosphere, or the planet. The only issue to which we are of central importance is our own (personal & species-wide) survival. If we want to survive, we must preserve & enhance the biosphere, with an eye to increasing our survival-prospects. We should avoid poisoning future generations. We should also avoid pointless changelessness. Moral duty to our gene-pool-future. At the end of the day, though, our striving to preserve the human-friendly environment we enjoy today on this planet will fail, one way or another, sooner or later. Deal.

    [comments to follow]

  9. __j__ Says:

    True logic: environmentalism as enacted by and enforced by one person, changes nothing. (Charlie methinks agrees with me that single-nation-only-environmentalism is futile.)

    False logic: humans are guaranteed to die off in the long run, because earth is guaranteed to die off, and humans can only live on earth. Because, humans are KEWL, we have tech / industry, given 200+ myl before we lose the oceans, and a strong tech-society the whole time, we will have the technological capacity to fix the problem… or to switch to another living-space.

    Further-revised assumption #1: earth cannot be saved, but what about human species? Few millenia is all we have. Not mentioned in article, but climate science tells us that sometime in the next 20k to 40k years, we *will* experience global cooling, glaciers crawling, etc. Nothing says return-to-the-neolithic like mile-high blocks of ice crushing NYC and London and Beijing and Moscow. Humans, as a species, can survive that — our ancestors went through several such cycles, living in caves, and each time emerging with some giant new technological leap: bow-n-arrow & fishing tackle after one cycle, then musical instruments after another cycle, and then domesticated animals & agriculture after the most recent.

    True logic: loss of tech-civ we have now, might never be recoverable; low-hanging-fruit is all used up! To preserve tech-civ, must colonize outer space long prior to upcoming glacial-period, which means within ~10k years. So… why preserve env/bio/earth? Needed now, to house only existing tech-civ. Needed in the near-to-mid-term, to launch that tech-civ into space. Medium-term? Might not matter. Long-term? Impossible to save earth forever, as noted by Charlie… but humans, and other species that we depend on, will (with foresight and luck on our side) no longer be ourselves dependent upon the earth for survival.

    At the end of the day, once we *do* achieve space colonies, the vast material resources, and the vast distances, pretty much guarantee the human species will continue indefinitely. Asteroid strike on one colony, pandemic disease in another, solar-event wipes out a third… that still leaves hundreds / thousands / millions of *unaffected* colonies to carry on tech-civ, and rebuild new colonies to replace the lost ones.

    Who will colonize? Folks that believe humans *are* central to everything that matters… because our survival (individual & species-wide) is inherently Good, ethically speaking. Folks that take human extinction, and indefinite survival of our gene-pool-future, very very personally indeed. Folks who refuse to accept serfdom, neither for themselves now on earth, nor for their offspring of the gene-pool-future. If we want to survive, we must preserve & enhance the biosphere, with an eye to increasing our long-term-indefinite-survival-prospects… which means, we must not kill the tech-civ-goose that lays the golden eggs, or we’ll all die on this planet, and it will survive our demise, not vice-versa.

    What is the key driver of the tech-civ-goose? Economic liberty, freedom of speech, ownership of property. In short, political systems that avoid serfdom & totalitarianism. Environmentalism that does *not* screw up the tech-civ-goose, absolutely. But environmentalism that does, absolutely not. We cannot afford to lose the tech-civ-goose, nor to delay space colonization by many centuries. We already used our land-based frontier, which is putting pressure on the environment *and* on liberty. We need to open another frontier up, quick, which means seasteading, or perhaps LEO colonization. But the more crucial thing is, we need to get our political priorities straight, and focus on boosting liberty. Centralized govt control of the economy is the most likely thing to kill the goose.

  10. knarlyknight Says:

    Long term catastrophe certain ? Maybe not.

    Makes more sense to behave as if there is something worth protecting than not.

    Also, look up Alex Jones, you and he have a lot in common.

  11. __j__ Says:

    p.s. Note that Charlie has a history of writing depressing things, with ulterior motives.

    See especially comment #113, which he refers to near the end.

    (But I still like reading him. Thanks for the link.)

  12. __j__ Says:

    Knarly, the antipope article is talking about *long* term catastrophes, like the transition phase of the sun from kind yellow life-giver to expanding red-ball-of-death, circa 5M years from now.

    (You’ve mentioned that Alex guy before. To my eyes, he and I have *very* little in common. I’d heard about him before visiting, btw, since he also claims to be a Ron Paul type. Maybe this is a case of all breeds of dog looking alike, to the lion… and all mammals looking alike, to the extraterrestrial visitor? What particular thing makes you think Alex and I would get along? Does he also posit future space colonization as the end-goal of libertarianism now?)

  13. __j__ Says:

    The same guy, on the 2012 prez election, the media, identical candidates, et cetera.

  14. shcb Says:

    While you guys were dreaming of a galaxies far far away I was looking into the past. I logged every recorded hurricane since 1851, then I gave each a score, 5 for cat 5, 4 for 4 etc. Long story short, there isn’t a correlation to global warming, in fact one of the most significant lulls was between 1972 and about 1998, the CAGW people will tell you that is when the earth was warming. Now 2005 was an absolutely huge year with a score of 39 and 4 cat 5 hurricanes. But 1950 had a score of 33, 1933 got a 32, way before CAGW.

    If anything it seems like when there are years with a lot of hurricanes, there are big hurricanes, but even that isn’t always true. 1960 for instance had 4 storms, 2 of which were cat 5, 2005 on the other hand had 15 storms.

    This isn’t even taking into account that we have much better method of detection and study than in 1851

  15. jbc Says:

    Well, if the case for global warming had been built on medium-term trends in hurricane intensity, it would be in real trouble now. Sadly, it wasn’t, and isn’t.

  16. shcb Says:

    But that’s not the point, the point is you have “experts” out there saying this storm is, well, somber face to the camera now, this is just more proof that we are causing the climate to change and storms to be worse. I saw Jim Cantore say it myself the other night, he wasn’t the only one. They were saying this about a Category 1 hurricane! Sorry, devastation and history making loss of property because of a freak full moon and a direct hit on an unprotected coast of the most heavily populated area of the US doesn’t count in a discussion of Global, underline Global warming. If this had made landfall in the Oklahoma panhandle it wouldn’t have made the Wichita news.

    You guys are so upset that people don’t believe you. “My god man, how are we going to get these heathens to believe us! It must be the message, we just aren’t telling the story properly, let’s dumb it down, let’s see what is wrong with their brains, maybe if we use cartoon characters. Something has to work!” Well, here’s an idea, give us a theory that makes sense! When you say “Hurricanes are getting worse!” and we can easily go back and see that they really aren’t, and the other side of the argument says they aren’t we are going to believe the side that is telling the truth on the little things and the big things.

    When someone like Cantore says hurricanes are getting worse when they aren’t you guys should ride them out of your camp on a rail. But of course if you do that the whole thing starts to unravel. You guys are losing the war because you got greedy trying to win all the little battles.

  17. shcb Says:

    on a completely unrelated note…

  18. knarlyknight Says:

    You logged every recorded hurricane since 1851? Where did you get that info? I’d be interested to review, if you could post it somewhere (not interested in criticizing, just want to review it.) I see business week has an article “It’s global warming, Stupid!” that contains a timeline graphing $ damages of natural disasters since 1980 which doesn’t indicate what they say it does either.

    nice unrelated note.

  19. __j__ Says:

    knarly, remember to correct dollar-damages for inflation, and (more difficult) for incentive programs that insure beachfront property owners against *personal* losses. As for shcb, given that weather-tracking info gathered by humans is woefully incomplete, I think we have to conclude that shcb logged the hurricane data in person, getting the info firsthand, as it were, being he’s an alien pod-creature, assuming the guise of human grandfather. Be afraid. Be very afraid. (note to enkidu… engage humour detection gear….) Seriously, even for the daily *temperature* as recorded by humans we can basically only go back to the 1600s or somesuch, with reasonably-standardized data recorded by the Royal Navy.

    @jcb, you are correct that *scientists* aren’t making the case for +1C and +2C global warming… as a geophysics phenomena… based on boosted hurricane-counts, or based on measurable increase in sea-level, or based on massive extinction-events destroying thousands or millions of species, or whatever. But surely you must agree that *political* and *media* proponents of government-enforced solutions to mitigate global warming… as an existential threat… are absolutely positively willing to say such things. Heavy Weather, 1994, pretty bad sci-fi novel? Water World, 1995, quite bad sci-fi movie? The good science is based on the antarctic and greenland ice-core data, which is tricky to interpret. (Ditto for how we can guesstimate the next glacier onset a few thousand years from now.)

    If you didn’t have massive sea-level rise, wiping out NYC, or massive hurricane power-boosts, wiping out NYC, or massive biology-out-of-wack-undersea-monsters, wiping out NYC, then you cannot make movies, you cannot sell novels, and you surely cannot get people to turn into the 10 o’clock newscast to hear yet again about how a century from now the average temperature will be a couple degrees warmer. There’s no drama there! The temperature gets a couple degrees warmer every time the sun comes out from behind a cloud, so nobody will get worried enough to elect Al Gore, and enact UN-enforced cap-n-trade.

    Along the same sort of lines, every hollywood movie about a killer asteroid is always solved, at the last second, by a big government launching their nuclear warhead arsenal, delivered to the surface of the monster by brave military astronauts… when in fact, the cheaper and more prudent way is to launch a tiny robotic kick-motor, carefully deploy it on the asteroid long in advance, and give it slight taps at just the right Oberth-friendly orbital position… thus deflecting it from a collision-course to a near-miss. All you need for that is a good detection array, and a relatively paltry probe-launch-capability, plus fancy computers and robotics. You’ll note that implausibly dramatic killer-asteroid-blockbusters make tons of money, whereas realworld boring prudent SpaceGuard limps along on a shoestring….

    (Yes. I realize the average increase of the climate isn’t like the point-increase when the sun comes out from behind the cloud. Predicting exactly what an average increase of a few degrees would *do* in a non-linear highly-interdependent system like the climate is the trick, right? Pundits are quite happy to predict hottest summer on record, big swings in el nino and el nina behavior, more & worse storms, continent-changing sea-level rise, plagues of locusts, and all sorts of stuff. The ice-core data does *not* give us such details, right?)

  20. __j__ Says:

    I’m not really all that sure the problem with talking-heads blaming global warming for Sandy The Cyclone actually is bias, or an agenda, or generally speaking lies (the nominal topic here). Might just be this, from 1987:

    Anybody know any more recent studies on how reasonably famous journalists and politicians fare when asked basic questions from arithmetic & astronomy through zygotes & zoology?

  21. shcb Says:

    Here is the link to the site I got the data from. And yes I manually made a spreadsheet, sat down for several hours and entered the number of each year’s number of hurricanes for each category, opening each year in turn. Then an hour or two analyzing that data with charts and such.

    You can’t use property values in this case, they are irrelevant, as I said above. The question is whether AGW is causing more and/or stronger storms so where they hit land or even if they hit land is irrelevant. It would be relevant as to how we build structures, where we live etc, how we adapt if you will, but we aren’t talking about that.

    The Unisys site is quick to point out, as I did briefly, that our ability to detect and study hurricanes increased greatly after 1946 when we started using planes to track storms, and again in the 70′s with satellites. But logic would tell us finding more hurricanes in the early years, or studying storms too violent to enter at or before the turn of the century would do nothing but make my case even stronger.

  22. shcb Says:

    I read your link Knarly and it is all about dollars, not wind speed or milibars. I liked this comment though

    Yes, Hoerling was quoted as saying that in the NY Times. The article also offers the opinions of other respected climatologists working for Rutgers, National Center for Atmospheric Research, etc. It seems illogical to accept his opinion as fact while dismissing the others as implausible.

    So the right back at you question I would have for Meredith is why is she convinced by Rutgers and not Hoerling? Unless you do some of this work yourself how do you know?

    Then you have this from a skeptic in the comments of your link “Three Hurricanes in seven years is a lot ? Please.” well, there have been 11 or 12 this year alone, not 3 in 7 years, maybe only 3 in the last seven years have hit land and caused huge losses, but this is someone from my side of the argument not doing his homework either.

    Then there is this

    Barthelemy Menayas, Yesterday 07:14 AM
    To all the global warming deniers trolling on this board – please state your credentials before making statements – ideally a climatologist from a reputable institution. If you’re just another Joe Shmoe, please keep your “gut feelings” for yourself. This is a scientific topic, not a matter of personal belief or taste.

    I guess Joe Shmoes on one side of an argument are better than Joe Shmoes on the other.

  23. __j__ Says:

    @shcb, actually this whole state-your-credentials thing, which boils down to argument from authority, is not as straightforward as it seems. There are two goals intertwined here. First, we have the goal of discovering Truth, in which authority means absolutely nada. The only thing that matters is evidence, logic, and correct predictions. (There are some layers even there… it takes some credentials to even be any *good* at gathering evidence correctly, or to a lesser extent, at using logic correctly… as as far as predictions go, even throwing darts at a map and a callendar will *sometimes* predict the day and the city where the next big hurricane lands. So, unless you have a reasonably good record of correct predictions, using correct logic, and producing solid evidence, it would be fair to say you aren’t *known* to be a good scientist.)

    But the other goal, the one that 99.99% of the people that gab back and forth about global warming are in fact pursuing, is the goal of making good decisions, when our discovery of Truth is yet incomplete. We must decide who we trust as scientists, we must decide what to trust as evidence (and what weight to put behind it), we must decide whom to elect, we must figure out what we think good policy would be, we must figure out what we think the risks are, we must figure out what we think the costs will be, we must figure out what the tradeoffs are likely to be, and we must always hedge our bets in case we’re wrong. This goal is clearly *way* more fuzzy, way more subject to bias, and so on.

    Taking a step back, think about how we choose political candidates, and elect a president. Average citizens think we live in a democracy, but that’s clearly nuts unless you have a *very* broad notion of what the term democracy means. Who picks the president? Well, there are three main groups, all exceedingly tiny compared to the overall population.

    First, there is a group of uber-wealthy donors, probably less than ten thousand people qualify, and certainly far less than a million. Because without massive dollars for teevee advertising, you cannot really win. Criteria? Must be super-rich, but can get that way by any mechanism.

    Second, there are the national delegates for the two major parties (as I’ve talked about before the math of plurality-voting drives us into dueling dual parties), which are appointed and elected in a complex process, but at the end it boils down about 3k repubs and about 4k dems, selected by perhaps 100k citizens as their representatives. Criteria? Must show up, understand some county politics, and be electable by your peers — the others that show up for county politics. Call it “mainstream activists” for short.

    Third, there are the electors chosen for the electoral college. In the old days, these were powerful folks; nowadays, they tend to be mainstream-activists like the above, and they tend to do what the rules say (the rules basically say that the mainstream-activists are the ones who appoint steady-follower-types as electors… and that the super-rich donors determine what those electors do, by influencing the popvote in their state). So the third group is relatively powerless, nowadays… but sometimes can swing things, in a pinch. For instance, if Obama wins 271 ecVotes… but there are a couple faithless electors that put down Nader or abstain or whatever (happened in 2000 as a protest-abstention)… then the repub-controlled House will make Mitt the president.

    What are the qualifications for being (or picking) the major-party nominees for president? No need to understand science — the biased spin is all that matters. No need to be a discoverer of truth — lies are typically considered not merely forgivable, but absolutely necessary, for the vast majority of folks on both team red and team blue. Loyalty is helpful, steadiness under stress is helpful, and wealth (the quiet respectable sort) is helpful. That’s it.

    How *should* we do our science? How do we keep our politics from messing up our science, which is to say, messing up our search for truth? Dems are messing up climate science, while repubs are messing up evolutionary biology, and both sides are politicizing K-thru-12. Some of that is likely unavoidable, sure… but we seem to not even notice the trouble, methinks.

    How should we pick our leaders? How should we determine our policies? This is something leaning towards enkidu’s query about merging internet and government (or at least the decision-making-processes that constitute electing reps and voting on official policies)…

  24. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, Wish I had a few hours not already booked with chores…

    ___J____ tldr.

  25. shcb Says:

    J, I’m not sure exactly what you are talking about with Enkidu’s query, I vaguely remember you guys talking about it, that’s ok. If it somehow resembles a more direct democracy I am not for it, I have seen the mess the initiative process has caused here in Colorado and in California. I also have close second hand knowledge of how term limits breaking up the good old boy network screws things up. My brother in law is a lobbyist. I know it is kind of counter intuitive but a certain amount of cronyism is need for government to operate as smooth as a government can operate, maybe cronyism isn’t the right word, continuity might be better..

    I think I disagree with your qualification to a major party nominee, I say I think because you may be correct in that is what the process has been dumbed down to but I think what is needed for a good president or governor is the same as any chief executive, you don’t have to have a technical or scientific mind, that is why you have folks under you. I think you do have to be a bit of a discoverer of truth though, probably not in the way you meant it but I think you have to have a good bullshit detector, and for that you need a working knowledge of many things but you don’t have to be the expert.

    As far as your first paragraph goes that is what I have been saying for a long time, that you don’t have to be an expert in the field being discussed to at least be able to do a little fact checking. I may not be a climate-scientist-with-a-specialty-in-man-made-global-warming/climate-change but I can count to 7 or 8 and I make a pretty mean Excel spreadsheet since my job requires that. With those skills I can do the kind of checks I did the other night. That is how “We must decide who we trust as scientists” and how (we must decide what to trust as evidence (and what weight to put behind it)”

  26. __j__ Says:

    I also disagree with my listed nominee-qualities… because yes, they were intended to be the as-we-have now qualities that our voting-system and our twin-party system tends to reward in nominees. Definitely *not* intended to be what I would want from an ideal (or even an improved) system of nominee-picking and election-voting.

    An improved voting-system does seem to be necessary, though, not just an improved party-nomination-process, because for the most part the gory details of our voting-system are *why* we have the twin-party system. Republican elections are essential to preserving liberty… but I’d like to see the internet used to dramatically democratize how taxdollars can be allocated, for instance. Not the mob voting to redistribute taxdollars consisting of Other People’s Money… but the voter who *paid* a particular taxdollar having some level of earmarking, to say how it is spent.

    As for your idea that the CEO doesn’t need to have technical knowledge, or a scientific mind, well… I agree to some extent. I don’t want the top astrophysicist automatically being the prez, or the top metallurgical engineer automatically being the prez, either. But I want a president who can, without hesitation, without consulting anybody, install their own copy of Linux, correctly explain the meaning of false positives and self-selection, understand the root causes and the side-effect of monetary inflation, and discourse knowledgeably about the market challenges of solar-thermal versus photo-voltaic versus municipal-fission versus combined-cycle-turbines. I want them to have *foundational* technical knowledge that is reasonably deep, and also very broad. I want them to have a highly trained *logical* mind, and to a lesser extent, some mathematical sophistication. The anti-Dan-Quayle, maybe? Not sure whether my goal is the same as your working-knowledge-of-many-things.

    If you have the foundations, and strong mental discipline, you can do wonders. Look at the way that Lincoln started off in 1860, with almost no military depth whatsoever. McClellan dillies and dallies, while Lincoln reads and studies and memorizes maps and so on. By the time 1864 rolls around, we have ourselves a president who is winning the war quite handily, and has decent generals well-placed. (Well, that’s my reading of fuzzy history, anyhoo.) Imagine if we had somebody like Lincoln as president on 9/11, rather than Bush2nd who used it as an excuse to invade Iraq and pass the anti-PATRIOT-act, or Gore who would have used it as an excuse to put crippling tariffs on oil-imports from the middle east and pass the cap-n-trade-tax. Lincoln would have studied the problem hard, and Done The Right Thing, in my fantasy-football-politics, at least.

    (In reality, Lincoln might well have been too busy checking out the magical talking box by the wall, and the disembodied wireless hyper telegraph in his pocket, and the instantaneous global postal mail system accessible via the board of keys… not to mention airplanes, spotlights, CGI special effects, roller coasters, ICBMs, fridge, microwave oven, and modern bathroom plumbing systems.)

    p.s. Well, no offense to your in-law intended, but the point of the federal government is *not* that it operate smoothly. Senate can veto the House, prez can veto the Senate, and supreme court can overturn even something all three of them agreed on… plus the voters can replace any prez/senator/rep in pretty short order, and the house can impeach *any* politician or bureaucrat who sufficiently displeases them. Gridlock was the intended default *normal* state of the government, by design. Until and unless grave circumstances forced everybody to start agreeing with each other, for a brief time.

    Cronyism, whether it be crony capitalism like the bank bailouts and solyndra and halliburton, or the 1800s style of cronyism like patronage and credit mobilier and pork-barrel spending packages… in most (all?) cases, cronyism is just a fancy name for some particular form of corruption, methinks. Continuity is not much better, if by that you mean automatic spending increases in all budget-items, and no term limits. Clearly, if you have professionals running the government, and budgets taking care of themselves, then you have a lot more smooth-running and continuity-preserving government… but the whole point of term-limits *is* to screw up the good-ole-boy network. That’s a feature, not a bug.

  27. __j__ Says:

    @knarly, tldr is okay by me… We’re either offtopic here, or broadening the topic-space, because we changed from talking about not despairing about a physical phenomena, to not despairing about science as a viable project, to not despairing about political elections as something that can produce results which help us not despair about the first two.

    Last couple of my comments went off the deep end into philosophical musing about whether our political structures are messing up our ability to do science properly (as a truth-seeking enterprise), and now shcb and I are talking about what a Good Presidential Nominee… one who won’t screw up scientific truth on their way to becoming potus emeritus… would actually look like. I think they need some strong foundational technological grounding for that.

    Dive in if you so desire, or skip if tldr. Now you have the nutshell summary anyhoo.

  28. knarlyknight Says:

    Seems we have the answer on Romney’s taxes-

  29. shcb Says:

    I like a two party system, I would go so far as make it a three party system but no more, and even then only for president, haven’t thought out all the ramifications of that thought yet, might not be workable.

    “But I’d like to see the internet…” not me, that sounds like the initiative process on steroids. It might work if the details were right but first glance is it would seem to REALLY be mob rule spending other people’s money. At least now we can unelect the mob.

    “CEO doesn’t need…” we’re on the same page, details can be argued but the basics are there.

    “PS well,…” cronyism wasn’t the right word, I knew it wasn’t at the time, but sometimes you can’t find the right word or phrase. What my BIL has told me is that with term limits there is the problem of what would have been career politicians now see themselves as lame duck from the first day, it may be 6 years from now, but they know their days are numbered so they are looking for the cronyism from the start (that is properly used). There are politicians that just want to be one term, I have a friend that wanted to be one term at the state level, we thought he would fall into the trap of making it a career, as we all thought we knew him so well, turns out we were wrong he was there one term and gone.

    A healthy republican government like ours needs a combination of old timers and people like Terry that are there for a term or two and then go back home. Without that mix you get either the situation above or you have such a constant turnover the staffers and lobbyists end up advising the new congressmen, neither of those groups are elected.

    I did like the vision of Techno geek Lincoln

  30. __j__ Says:

    I’m with George Washington… I think parties are poisonous, they force people to place loyalty to the party-line above principle. I want a voting-system where you, the average voter, can put down who you *really* want for president, without any lesser-weevil penalties to worry about. Instead of repub-primaries of Mitt-vs-RonP-vs-Newt-vs-Sant, with Roemer & Gary Johnson excluded, plus dem-primaries of Obama-vs-Hillary-vs-Edwards, with Nader & Roseanne excluded, my ideal system would allow the general election voter to give a ranking from 1 to 10 for all those candidates. If the voting system doesn’t suffer from lacking independence of clones, then you no longer need favorite-betrayal, and parties are no longer poisonous.

    As for the-mob-spending-your-taxdollars, read my scheme again — I only want *you* to be able to earmark your *own* taxdollars, and you would have no say about anybody else’s taxdollars (plus they would have no say about yours). The opposite of mob rule.

    As for the term-limits thing, you are correct, it is worse to have lobbyists and bureacrats making their careers advising (controlling really) wet-behind-the-ears politicians. But your suggested fix, that we “elect” career politicians, because that way at least we don’t have unelected staffer-types running the show… is no good either! Because when the incum wins re-election 98% of the time, that’s not really what you would call an *actual* election, so to speak, right? I would junk term-limits, if we could guarantee competitive elections, without the incum getting a built-in ten-percentage-point advantage no matter WHAT sort of record they had in office… which seems pretty typical, eh?

    Anyways, I don’t have a scheme that I’m happy with for dealing 100% with this sort of corrupt-official problem, per se. However, I think if the voters could strictly earmark their own taxdollars (see paragraph above), that would go a *long* way towards reducing the power of lobbyists, and the temptations for politicians. Once you take the power of the purse away from both the politicians and also the lobbyists, and put it firmly back in the hands of the individual taxpayer, their main job is Running Things, rather than Redistributing Wealth… which in and of itself might just attract a better class of candidates!

  31. shcb Says:

    Your earmarking monies by individual voters equates to pure democracy, something I most certainly don’t like. And anyway, the ink wouldn’t have dried on the amendment to the Constitution before politicians would figure a way to “borrow ” from a popular fund to spend on a less popular.

    I don’t like the voting on a scale of ten scheme because it ends up being a parliamentary system with factions aligning themselves in coalitions after the election. I like my coalitions preformed.

  32. shcb Says:

    since nothing else is going on let’s take this statement

    I would junk term-limits, if we could guarantee competitive elections, without the incum getting a built-in ten-percentage-point advantage no matter WHAT sort of record they had in office… which seems pretty typical, eh?

    why do you thing they have this advantage (kind of a silly question but it lays some groundwork) and what do you think we can do to change that advantage. I don’t have an answer, I’ll think about it today, but right now I don’t have a solution. One simple idea I have always had is to show how long the incumbent has been in office right next to his name on the ballot. That doesn’t help my cause, or change the incumbent advantage but I think it is fair and simple.

  33. enkidu Says:

    wow Knalry, I’ve been hearing whispers about this for a while but it looks like even Bloomberg has the news up as well. Completely unsurprising. I guess we’ll never know if he brought any money back to the US under the 09 amnesty, but a tax dodge that rips off your cult, errr ‘church’ as well as the guv? priceless

    This is why Reid (also a Mormon) knows about Mitten’s tax dodge. All perfectly legal, of course (wink!) Also, just so you don;t think I’m some sort of religious bigot, I liked Jon Huntsman – who garned about 1% of the GOPer primary votes. Not radical/nutty enough for the tea party.

    So shcb, the story is now that the incumbent gets a ten point advantage? That’s going to be your sob story on Wednesday AM? Or will you whinge about Sandy helping Obama (show competence at the job, as opposed to the previous occupant, what was his name? haven’t seen or heard from shrub in a while, must be a lot of brush down there) Or will you crucify Chris Christie for acknowledging that the President actually can do the job?

    Rmoney is a crook with nice hair and good teeth. Still a crook.

    I don’t think you guys are thinking about what the internet/IT really brings to the party. More later.

  34. NorthernLite Says:

    Happy voting day my American friends!

    I really hope Obama wins a second term and can keep building on the progress he’s made after the absolute disaster Bush left him with. Less war, more cowbell.

    And I really hope Americans aren’t crazy enough to elect a tax-dodging, flip-flopping Mormon who doesn’t understand why airplane windows can’t roll down.

    I usually don’t single out any particular religion for ridicule but come on… do you know what these people believe? Do you really want someone in charge of your country that is dumb enough to believe the crazy shit that’s in the Book of Mormon?!

    I don’t think you do.

  35. shcb Says:

    A person’s religion doesn’t bother me much, someone that not only ignores but actively refuses to help Americans under fire for 7 hours does.

  36. shcb Says:

    A couple things I find odd, you guys support a candidate that leaves a couple dozen diplomats vulnerable after they have asked for support for a month, and then watches them die while they plead for help for a full day, but complain about a candidate that did his taxes correctly. You support a man who voluntarily sat in church and listened to a racist preacher for 20 years but complain about the other candidate because of the general religion he has chosen, a mainstream religion at that. Odd.

  37. enkidu Says:

    “I gotta fever, and there’s only one cure! More cowbell!”

    I read someplace that if you were to run these two candidates in every country of the world, there are only two countries that Obama would lose (not loose like your ‘facts’ wwnj). Which two countries? Pakistan and Israel. There’s your power of religion folks.

    You still pretending that embassies weren’t attacked under shrub wwnj? It is beyond regrettable that our Ambassador and the others gave their lives in service to their country and to the newly liberated fledgling Democracy of Libya. But your narrow reading of the situation is a partisan attack that belittles you and your candidate (who couldn’t wait for the smoke to clear before you extremists were trumping up ‘Benghazi-gate’). Odd.

    Mormonism is Scientology / Dianetics / Animal Spirit Worship / Nonsense. We visited SLC and took a public tour. The church people were like drugged up robots, blissed out on bullshit. Scary. But your candidate is such a moderate Mormon, he uses his ‘church’ (badly uses it btw) to dodge taxes and hides many millions in overseas tax havens and other dodges. No wonder Harry Reid blew the whistle on this draft dodging, tax evading, quasi-legal criminal. He’s ripping off his own ‘church’ ferpetessake!

    McCain audited Romney and picked Sarah Palin. nuff said.

  38. NorthernLite Says:

    What’s really odd is the book of Mormon. Like I’ve said in the past I think all religion is ridiculous, but you gotta admit this Mormon stuff really takes the cake. I mean you seriously have to question the judgment of a person that would fall for that crap and I think it shows how easily they can be manipulated. Not good things for a president to have.

    The Libya stuff is just Fox noise. You (and they) didn’t seem very bent when Bush was reading children books while America was under attack, nor did you seem very concerned that Bush received a national security memo titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside US Using Airplanes” a month before Bin Laden struck inside the US using airplanes. Nor did you seem concerned about how members of the Saudi Royal family was allowed to fly out the country when all air traffic was grounded. So when folkse see the same people that shrugged their shoulders over all that stuff trying to make Libya into some sort of massive scandal most people just roll their eyes and say, whatever.

    I don’t get to vote, but I sure wouldn’t be voting for a guy that has made a fortune raping and pillaging US companies, sending jobs to China and then taking the millions he made and stashing it in 34 offshore shell companies in the Caymans. A millionaire that doesn’t pay taxes but bitches about veterans and seniors not paying taxes.

    I’d vote for the guy that stabilized the economy and killed Bin Laden.

    But on a ‘high’ note, I hope you’ll be casting your vote wisely in Colorado today shcb… cough, cough. :-) Make some history.

  39. shcb Says:

    I voted against the leagalization issue just because it was a constitutional ammendment and I don’t think it should be in the constitution. I am for the leagalization of pot though, we have that in common, even though I don’t partake. I tried it a couple times didn’t like the smoking part, bad taste in my mouth for a day or two. When we were in Amsterdam a couple months ago my wanted to visit a coffee shop, I was shocked, but when we got there she got cold feet. She just didn’t like Amsterdam in general, I think if she would have felt more comfortable in the city we would have been a couple high as a kite almost senior citizens.

    We’ll see how this Libya incident plays out. The problem for Obama is there were a couple hundred people in the various situation rooms that were there the whole time it was unfolding. if R’s decide to bring them all in front of Congress it could get ugly, no matter how today turns out.

  40. shcb Says:

    correction: my wife wanted to visit a coffee shop

  41. enkidu Says:

    Funny how Ballot Fraud almost always involves a Republican cheating…

    Contacted by Willamette Week, Swenson tearfully insisted that it was “only the two” ballots that had been altered. Sure. uh huh… Just the two she was *caught* altering. What is the prison term for two class C Federal felony vote tampering crimes? Oh right, she’s a Rethug, she’ll get off with a wink and a nod.

    Or you could believe your own eyes instead of the nonsense you watch on faux

    I would be more worried about the clearly illegal ‘emergency software patch’ the Rethug in Ohio installed on certain e-voting machines and the servers that count them. Talk about brazen.

    I suppose if you can’t win, cheating might help you steal it.

    My prediction: Obama wins with >303. Romney takes back NC and IN. Basically you guys win the ol Confederacy minus Virginia, but you can have the empty plains states. Paul Ryan loses (not looses) his home state, but squeaks out a re-election contest. Rmoney loses every state that he used to call home (does he have one of his houses in UT? mb he wins there). Dems gain in Senate and House (tho house by not as much). Virginia and

    It’s all over except the gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and the howling that Romney and Ryan just weren’t conservative enough. Yes, please, do make that your takeaway lesson wwnjs! Also, go Galt! Now. Just go! Go! I hear Somalia is a libertarian paradise. To your scattered bunkers go!

  42. enkidu Says:

    Well lookit that – 303 on the nose. =) We’ll take FL and a popular vote win before all is said and done. Still counting those west coast votes. Speaking of which… looks like you get your wish NL! Way to go CO and WA.

    We elected our first openly gay Senator (a woman from WI – which btw Paul Ryan did not carry, but he was reelected, as expected)

    We elected strong progressive voice Elizabeth Warren

    We elected Iraq War vet and hero Tammy Duckworth

    Her opponent Joe Walsh (R – loonyville) criticized her for preparing for her speech at the DNC by shopping for a new dress. Her reply? “He’s trying to distract the discussion from the real issues that are at hand. And yes, I do sometimes look at the clothes that I wear,” she said. “But for most of my adult life, I’ve worn one color – it’s called camouflage.”

    We rejected tea party morons like Joe Walsh and Alan West. Looks like Michael Bachmann (R- crazytown) will squeak out a narrow victory in her gerrymandered district. Only sad note so far.

    Old white assholes won the Confederacy once again. uh hooray?
    It must sting to lose (not loose) Virginee.
    You can console yourself that you took back NC.

  43. shcb Says:

    yup, you guys won the war, we are now just a big pissant European country waiting to die. She’s all yours, good luck.

  44. NorthernLite Says:

    Thank you for not letting Romney become your leader. We are your largest trading partnter and many economists up here feared what the policies of Romney would do to our economies.

    shcb, I’ll likely be visiting CO sometime next year. As will thousands of others I’m sure :)

  45. shcb Says:

    great! give me a call if you have the time, we’ll go have a beer.

    We’ll survive, we’ll just be a common run of the mill country and the rest of the world will suffer. It’s not Obama, he just happened to be on the podium, it is the steady decline over the last few decades that has led us to this. I’m just really sad today, my country that has done so much is dead.

  46. enkidu Says:

    Yes, the country is dead to you, dead! So… when do you leave for Somalia?

  47. shcb Says:

    I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to become a 47%er and become a burdon on you. Better get in early so you can make me lots of money, you own this place now.

    So the Dow dropped over 300 points today, no confidence in Obama by the business sector, no shock there, what is Obama’s plan to regain their confidence? My retirement is tied to the stock market, if Obama doesn’t have a plan you are going to have to pay more for my social security. Will soaking the rich make the market feel better?

  48. enkidu Says:

    Go Galt! Just go! We will miss you ever so much, but the wide open frontier life in the libertarian paradise of Somalia awaits you! You can call it Freedumsville or something similarly misspelled.

    I don’t recall you singing Obama’s praises when the stock market has nearly doubled since he came into office (during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression). Odd.

    Maybe we can start a tip jar or kickstarter project for sending you to Somalia (take lefty/J/asscrack with you, please). Or perhaps you prefer life in the Off World Colonies, I hear Moon Emperor Gingrich is hiring. Send him your poorly spell-checked resumé.

    buh bye!

  49. shcb Says:

    Why would I leave? We just stop work here, let you pay for our early retirement. Maybe I can get Republicans to change retirement age to one year older than you, incriminating one year each year until you are 80. Sorry, I’m just very sad.

  50. knarlyknight Says:

    Markets now anticipate continued gridlock in a recalcitrant House.

    Boehner’s refusal today to consider outright tax increases on the wealthy and insistance on cuts to social programs is extremism of the worst kind for the current economy.

    Fiscal cliff – Bush sucked money from the private sector to bloat military and dump trillions in wars. Obama won’t repeat that error but Romney would have. House Republican extremism must soften to solve the crisis – good luck with that. The likely outcome is more kicking the problem down the road.

    shcb, if you are sad it is probably because a glimpse of the real world has trickled through the wwnj media filters. Your attitude, which seems to be that America is no longer great because your side didn’t win, really sucks.

  51. NorthernLite Says:

    shcb, if its any comfort to you I’ve been governed by the ‘other side’ since 2006 and through three election losses. Life goes on. Plus look on the bright side, at least you can be stoned out of your mind for the next four years and not even care what’s going on.

    Also, iirc, you have lots of land. That could he used to grow cannibas and make money :)

  52. shcb Says:

    Ha Ha, something tells me a couple acres of pot is going to get me three squares in a little tiny room with stainless steel sink and toilet. it will probably be the next election before anyone is using that new law, lots of court fights to go on that one.

  53. knarlyknight Says:

    IIRC, in 2008 shcb pouted for about 2 days then was back to bellicose wwnjerisms. Best not to extend much sympathy to sore losers who have a history of not learning from mistakes and a history of failing to compromise.

  54. shcb Says:

    The problem isn’t the election, elections come and go. The problem is this should have been a no brainer, Obama has been a terrible president, especially on economics matters, and that is the most pressing issue of this next term. Romney was by far a better choice because he simply understands economics and Obama doesn’t any more than Enky just demonstrated he does.

    The sobering reality is the demographics are such that we may not see a Republican in the Whitehouse for many years, and we will just continue this slow and steady slide into Euro socialism, now of course you guys see that as progress. But the reality is the shinning city on the hill is just another piddly socialistic cesspool. Oh well, we had a good run, one nice thing, we can stop helping every other country, when some pissant dictator decides to take over a country we should just shrug and say, can’t help, we’re socialistic just like you, sorry, we’re broke but if you wait 6 weeks we can get you into the MRI machine. When the next disaster hits a little third would country, no ships to the rescue, we can say, call Canada, have them send the whole fleet, it will fit in a bathtub, we sold our fleet for sub par healthcare. That is what I mean when I say we are no longer going to be great, we’ll survive as an average place where everyone is in an average amount of misery, everyone gets an average mediocre level of health care, perfectly fair and perfectly average, not great. America died Tuesday.

  55. shcb Says:

    You’re probably right Knarly, I might get back to normal, but I don’t know, I think we may have lost the war here. I’m wondering, though at what point is this economy Obama’s?

  56. shcb Says:

    O’Reilly was talking to Miller the other evening, O’Reilly said that if Obama fails to get the economy fixed in the next four years that liberalism and the democratic party will be dead. Miller kind of shrugged, I think I agree with Miller, no it won’t, even if Republicans are called on to clean up the mess for a term or two we will right back to people wanting a handout as soon as things get better. The other side will go into politics of envy again just as they do every time and the slide will continue. This is the new normal, mediocrity.

  57. knarlyknight Says:

    Thinking of it this way might cheer you a little. If Rmoney won then he’d be blamed when the real depression hits two years from now, or more to the point: the near unfettered free market capitalism he espouses would be spurned by all and sundry for a long, long time. At least under Obama if the economy continues to fester you can pretend that things would have been better under Rmoney i.e. you won’t have to face a reality where Rmoney’s 2012-2014 rule wrecked America.

  58. enkidu Says:

    Just curious, but why does universal healthcare equal socialism? Why is denying healthcare to the poorest, the sickest, the elderly and the powerless your moral choice? It is called civilization. It evolves, we move forward.

    bro, you still mad about the whole bayonets and horses thing?

    I know this uses math and such, but did you know the total number of ships was lowest during George W Failure’s administration? The number has gone up under Obama (a perverse jobs program). We could talk about the size of the US defense budget, but math is hard, right? So ‘fact-y’. Did you know in 2009, the US spent nearly 50% of the entire world’s defense spending? And if you add in our closest allies, Canada, Britain, France, etc but excluding Saudia Arabia, that number rises to about 70% of the total. China spent about 6.5% of the world’s defense spending, while Russia spent about 3.5%. Together (lol) these two are at 10% of world spending. 7 to 1 and you think we can’t do anything but increase defense spending forever. After winding down two botched wars. Obama got Osama. We’re real busy murdering Bad Guys using our much cheaper flying death robots. Sorry about the collateral damage, don’t mind the mess.

    We went from Ronnie’s shining city of lies on a hill (Bullshit Mountain) to a socialist cesspool because we re-elected Obama? lol I think the entire world is relieved that this administration was resoundingly re-elected. 332-206. Small gains in both house and senate. That is a mandate.

    I’d be happy if we just went back to the Clinton era tax rates or thereabouts. Do it gradually, responsibly. I’d happily pay another couple percent to go back to that era of growth and opportunity. Just so long as everyone goes back to the same rates. The rich have done very well the last few years under Obama, they could well afford to pay a little bit more. But expect no compromise from Rs, no reason, no help at all on the nation’s business.

    …at what point is this economy Obama’s?
    How about inauguration day? or maybe 1/2010?

    We were pretty deep in the hole that you and dumbya done dug. Now please either go Galt or stfu and get out of the way while we fix it. sheesh

  59. knarlyknight Says:

    Pretty graph. Like to see that sit on a Fox news screen a good long time while they blabber on in their hypnotic idiocy. Maybe some of their listeners would recognize the disconnect from reality.

    “politics of envy” who the hell believes that?

    “politics of outrage” perhaps, but not envy.

  60. enkidu Says:

    “politics of envy” who the hell believes that?

    Funnily enough, I rode my bike up to the middle school today in a light rain (wife had our infernal combustion machine elsewhere). Garden meeting: they are starting up a zero waste program there now, progress, some ‘nema washi’ with the kids to get things going. Anyway at a corner a 1/4 mile from the school, a mom i know peripherally waved to me and turned left while I waited at the light. With her space open now, a Tesla was revealed, the guy looked over and we locked eyes. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. He smiled back and waved as he whooshed/whined away, out to the Lucasfilm ranch no doubt. I thought no more about it until your comment knarly… that guy was probably a millionaire many times over, but I was happy for him and his electric muscle car. You go guy!

  61. knarlyknight Says:

    Nice story Enk. See shcb, people can be happy in a socialist state.

    Just please try to ignore freaks like Trump when they call for revolution, they don’t speak for Americans they speak for Romneycons.

    Is this tweet true?

    Obama had a bigger win, w/ MORE electoral & popular votes than the wins for Kennedy, Nixon (in 68), Carter & Bush! C’mon – say it: LANDSLIDE

  62. knarlyknight Says:

    Oh oh, maybe you were right…

    Love the comments.

  63. shcb Says:

    I think you may be right, maybe Republicans in congress should just all switch parties to the Socialist party, have lunch with Bernie Sanders, get it over with. America let its kids be taught in socialist schools, they let the media become what it is, they have traded respect for their country and their own personal integrity for a handout, let Obama have the reins pass whatever he wants passed just rubber stamp the whole agenda.

    You’re right Knarly, people will be happy in socialist America or whatever socialists decide to calll the new country, when I tell my grandkids or great grandkids what it was like growing up in America they will think I’m nuts! “A place like that never existed grandpa” they will say, “why would anyone want to live in a place where you have to work hard only to possibly fail grandpa?” As we are having this conversation we will be watching news coverage of an earthquake or war somewhere poor and wish we lived in a country where we could help those poor people. Welcome to Western France.

  64. knarlyknight Says:

    Your despair doesn’t ring true so I’m finding your self-pity & futile attempt for sympathy amusing.

    Maybe you just need a holiday:

    (Western France seems pretty nice.)

  65. enkidu Says:

    Sociamalism! boo hoo
    Don’t worry, you guys will have a good year in 2014 (it’s the tik tok US of elections)

    please please please don’t learn a damn thing from this shellacking: run ever harder and farther to the right. Crazytown is a big place and there are all sorts of undiscovered countries of nuttiness for you folks to explore. Herman Cain wants to start a third party of even more conservative craziness (also stupidity) because the Tea Party was obviously way too sane.

    funny pic knarly!
    note that he appears to be drinking a real beer – a Guinness

  66. knarlyknight Says:


  67. enkidu Says:

    I downloaded the White House homebrew recipe for WH Honey Porter (with honey from their hives on the grounds!) I’ll give it a whirl and see if it is drinkable in the end (I’m a beginning brewer)

    I’m sure it’ll taste like socialism. ie delicious

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