April 09, 2011

Obama re-election not in the bag

Per National Journal, if his white support slips by 10 percent, he will have more of a slog.

North Carolina and Virginia could both be off the table. Ditto Florida and Indiana. Add all four of those up, especially with new Census apportionment, and we've got 2000 and 2004 all over again.

April 08, 2011

Will Philly Mick hit World No. 1?

Phil Mickelson's moving to the world's No. 1 golf ranking is all in his control. (It is for Lee Westwood, too.)

I will hate having to eat my hat if he pulls it off, but maybe he can. But, I doubt it. He's eight strokes off the pace, with good golfers a-plenty ahead of him.

There's other Masters scenarios, too. Geoff Ogilvy is in good position to exorcise the ghosts of Greg Norman and become the first Aussie to win at Augusta.

Fred Couples could be the oldster who finally defies Father Time at a major. That said, I wouldn't hold my breath on it, sadly.

As for the finale?

Phil paired with Tiger Woods in the last pairing on Sunday could be great. So could Tiger vs. Y.E. Yang in a reply of the 2009 PGA. And, so could Phil and Lee.

I'd love to see Rory win. Or Luke Donald, just to put yet another, and unexpected, name and face atop the world rankings.

Manny Ramirez, HOFer? I don't think so

Now that Manny Ramirez is apparently (watch that word, with his volatile mind) retired, is he a Hall of Famer?

Given that his retirement is apparently based on what would have been a second "bust" by MLB for performance-enhancing drugs, his retirement is the most problematic to date on the hitters' side, topping previous winner Rafael Palmeiro.

Raffy was not outstanding, in terms of a peak, with his seeming roiding. Factoring out steroids and adjusting his career stats, but not looking to excise moral punishment, I have ruled him out of the HOF running.

Manny? Way ahead of Raffy on all the batting stats except base hits. Top 20 in HRs and RBIs. Top 25 in adjusted OPS. But, such a horrible fielder that Raffy's actually ahead of him on career WAR.

And, that, along with the roiding that was apparently so bad that he got busted a second time at age 38, unable to either be more skillful at using or to detach more from the tail end of a rapidly waning career, is why I'd be ready to vote him out, too.

The man was/is arguably baseball's biggest head case since Dick Allen, if not worse than him at times.

So, contra David Schoenfield at ESPN, and I'm sure others, I'm not ready to crown Manny yet.

As Jeff Passan puts it, Manny was the "ultimate flake," and also, in the header, a "colossal waste." Beyond the petulance, beyond the deliberately "indifferent" outfield play, he had many other "issues." I won't miss him quite as much as Passan apparently will.

Jon Paul Morosi agrees with me on Manny's HOF chances, and his deserving, or not.

American exceptionalism vs American reality

Salon has a good essay noting how "American exceptionalism" was, from the start, about "branding America" as much as anything.

It also notes that branding was designed to cover up the canker sore of slavery.

Of course, since then, we've had:
"Ghettoization" of American Indians and post-slavery blacks;
Plenty of imperialism;
Moral hypocrisy from time to time;
And a military-industrial complex putting anything old Europe ever had to shame.

But, wingnuts sweep this all under the rug, often with God and a city on a hill metaphors, as the essay notes about Gingrich. Liberal exceptionalists usually invoke the God of liberal Protestantism, suitably filtered to do the same. However, the essay, by focusing on Gingrich, albeit discussing Obama (but only in light of Gingrich) fails to adequately address the liberal wing of American exceptionalism.

And, as the war in Libya has shown, as long as it gets the figleaf of a UN OK, liberals today have no problem wiht interventionalilst American exceptionalism, either.

It's still a good read, but not quite great.

Clmate change "vs" global warming

Wold-be deniers or semi-deniers of global warming are more likely to listen if scientists talk about "climate change instead, a study shows.

It's all in the marketing. But, that's why real science doesn't exist in a vacuum.

April 07, 2011

Why did Goldstone flip-flop contra actual evidence?

NYT columnist Roger Cohen wants to know, as do I.

And a flip-flop it is, that South Africa's Richard Goldstone did, distancing himself from the report of his own UN commission on whether Israel, as well as Hamas, committed war crimes in 2008.

I have to quote extensively from Cohen's column to set the background:
He says his report would have been different “if I had known then what I know now.” The core difference the judge identifies is that he’s now convinced Gaza “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

His shift is attributed to the findings of a follow-up report by a U.N. committee of independent experts chaired by Mary McGowan Davis, a former New York judge, and what is “recognized” therein about Israeli military investigations. Well, Goldstone and I have not been reading the same report.

McGowan Davis is in fact deeply critical of those Israeli investigations — their tardiness, leniency, lack of transparency and flawed structure. Her report — stymied by lack of access to Israel, Gaza or the West Bank — contains no new information I can see that might buttress a change of heart.

On the core issue of intentionality, it declares: “There is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

It says Israel has not adequately answered the Goldstone Report’s allegations about the “design and implementation of the Gaza operations” or its “objectives and targets.” Victims on both sides, McGowan Davis argues, can expect “no genuine accountability and no justice.”

In short there is a mystery here. Goldstone has moved but the evidence has not, really.
Was it all the varieties of the "self-hating Jew" epithet hurled at him after the report's release, as Cohen wondered? Did Israel threaten not to let him in the country as a private citizen, which may have mattered indeed to an observant Jew like him?

We don't know because he's not talking, which makes it worse.

That said, it's arguable Zionism has won again.

It's won not because Goldstone is or was a self-hating Jew, but because he's no longer a self-examining one, or however we phrase it.

It's won because many low-key Zionists will see this as affirmation of their low-key intransigence, NOT toward Hamas, but toward the Palestinian Authority and the UN.

It's won because these low-key Zionists and semi-Zionists in the U.S., along with their Christian millennialist Amen Corner, will up the political pressure on Democrats and Republicans alike, when Goldstone's report offered at least the possibility of relief.

Cedar Hill economic development has one flop

So, the Bailey's in Uptown Village is no longer a steakhouse.

It doesn't surprise me. That said, the Best Southwest could use a place that's a steakhouse, but a bit lighter on the price point than was Bailey's in its original incarnation.

Second, the news is from November?

Either Pegasus News ain't doing that well in the Net search/SEO world or else it's showing little more love to the Best Southwest than is the Dallas Morning News.

Is "2 percent gay" wrong? Or "bad"?

The Religious Right is already trying to make hay with new demographic research saying gays and lesbians may "only" be 2 percent of the population, not 3-5 percent.

But, the study notes another 2 percent identify as bisexual. And, that many straights have "experimented."

But, the Religious Right is still trying to "run" with this.
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies with the conservative Family Research Center, welcomed Gates' findings as further repudiation of the Kinsey 1-in-10 estimate.

Sprigg also was intrigued by the relatively high portion of bisexual people tallied by Gates.

"I see this as somewhat of a problem for the gay political movement," Sprigg said. "It undermines the idea that being born homosexual is an immutable characteristic that can't be changed."
First, many gay rights advocates have long moved beyond using "immutability" as an anchor for gay rights arguments.

Second, many gays are "gay from birth," even if many are not.

Second, as I noted, the "activity" numbers should give Sprigg additional food for thought. If as many people as identified as "gay/lesbian" or "bisexual" combined have been OK with having at least one same-sex sexual experience, it undercuts HIS argument that homosexuality is unnatural.

And, they do.

More than 8 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one same-sex sexual experience. While that's not the 1-in-10 of some estimates on gay/lesbian numbers, it's close enough, in terms of at least one-time activity, it ought to shut up the Religious Right.

Gary Gates, the researcher behind the numbers, says the lower percentage for "gay/lesbian" than conventional wisdom is probably because nobody sorted out the data like he has.

In any case, a dialogue on the numbers is part of what he wants.
"Yes, this is a credible estimate, but I'm fine to have a debate with someone about whether I'm right or wrong," he said. "The academic side of me says everything comes with caveats. But there is a level of power associated with having a number that can move dialogues along and hopefully move things forward."
And, with the exception of people like Sprigg, that's where we're at.

Gay rights advocates shouldn't worry over exact numbers, nor the "immutability" angle, for those still attached to it. Rather, the positive side is the "experimented" angle, and using those numbers to show just how many Americans are OK with same-sex sexuality.

Of course, the RR is using the number of "experimenters" for claims that gay-to-straight "cures" actually are such.

The reality? "Experimenters" in general are exactly that. Some may move more into bisexual territory, but few are likely to eventually identify as "primarily gay/lesbian." And, I'd guess that if we asked "experimenters" who do eventually identify that way if they were "repressing," we'd get at least a few yes answers. So, the "experimenters" prove nothing.

Beyond that, this might be like the Census allowing for "multiracial" identification; we might see more honest dialogue about sexuality in general.

And that, in turn, would probably really scare the Religious Right.

Gays yesterday, today and tomorrow

First, a man buried 2,500-2,800 years ago is NOT likely a gay caveman. The person may, or may not, be a transgender individual of some sort, though.

And, he's not a gay caveman. And, "he" may not even be male.

But, Vaughn Walker IS a gay judge. (Well, a retired one, now.) Walker was the federal judge who struck down California's Proposition 8. He says, rightfully, he saw no reason to recuse himself, but, the Religious Right will certainly run with this.

And, the Religious Right will also likely run with the news that gay adults in America may "only" be 2 percent of the population, not 3-5 percent.

But, the study notes another 2 percent identify as bisexual AND that more than 8 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one same-sex sexual experience. While that's not the 1-in-10 of some estimates on gay/lesbian numbers, it's close enough, in terms of at least one-time activity, it ought to shut up the Religious Right.

Not that they're not trying.
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies with the conservative Family Research Center, welcomed Gates' findings as further repudiation of the Kinsey 1-in-10 estimate.

Sprigg also was intrigued by the relatively high portion of bisexual people tallied by Gates.

"I see this as somewhat of a problem for the gay political movement," Sprigg said. "It undermines the idea that being born homosexual is an immutable characteristic that can't be changed."
Many gay rights advocates have long moved beyond using "immutability as an anchor, first of all.

Second, as I noted, the "activity" numbers should give Sprigg additional food for thought. If as many people as identified as "gay/lesbian" or "bisexual" combined have been OK with having at least one same-sex sexual experience, it undercuts HIS argument that homosexuality is unnatural.

Gary Gates, the researcher behind the numbers, says the lower percentage for "gay/lesbian" than conventional wisdom is probably because nobody sorted out the data like he has.

In any case, a dialogue on the numbers is part of what he wants.
"Yes, this is a credible estimate, but I'm fine to have a debate with someone about whether I'm right or wrong," he said. "The academic side of me says everything comes with caveats. But there is a level of power associated with having a number that can move dialogues along and hopefully move things forward."
And, with the exception of people like Sprigg, that's where we're at.

Drug-test GOP candidates?

Should there be a drug test for GOPers to be able to run for Congress?
1. Yes. 2. Hellz yes. 3. We'll call it "the Ryan." ("Santorum" is already taken.)

Drug-test GOP candidates?

Should there be a drug test for GOPers to be able to run for Congress?
1. Yes. 2. Hellz yes. 3. We'll call it "the Ryan." ("Santorum" is already taken.)

April 06, 2011

Douthat doesn't like Ryanomics

Ross Douthat says it looks too much like Reaganomics, from "Rosy Scenario" through trickle down equivalents to fill-in-the-blank economic numbers.

The fact that Ryan's doing all of this should be no surprise. He knows that punting the change from Medicare to Medic-Where down the road a dozen years isn't enough lipstick on the pig of Ryanomics by itself.

So, instead of being as bold as Ayn Rand would want him to be, he's trying to be too cute by half.

Why Douthat gave him "initial praise," I don't know. At the least, Douthat is smarter than David Brooks. (Not that that says a lot.)

That said, he does promise to review the suicide note political implications of Ryanomics in a future column.

Why you can't really trust medical studies

From XKCD, the lowdown on medical studies, with their 5 percent p values (compared to natural sciences, with their 0.01 percent values:

Is there a p-value for Ronald Reagan making erroneous statements after eating Jelly Belly jelly beans?

Note Pane 5, Line 5.

Bob Deuell just declined a lot in my book

Back when I lived in suburban Dallas and his Senate district covered part of our newspaper company's coverage area, he struck me as a decent guy.

But, deliberately blocking a vote on confirming John Bradley as the head of the Forensic Science Commission - a vote he knows Bradley will lose - just so that Bradley can chair the commission's final report meeting on Cameron Todd Willingham - is sick and wrong.

As the story notes, because some GOP state senators as well as all Democrats oppose Bradley, he'd lose a confirmation vote, and therefore would immediately lose his spot on the commission. The commission's April 14-15 meeting would likely then challenge how Bradley has forced the pace of its overview the science, or lack thereof, behind Willingham's murder conviction.

Deuell claims he doesn't want a new commission chairman to have to "start over."

He obviously doesn't want to see justice done, even belatedly.

Govt shutdown - no retroactive pay for the furloughed

As this Post story notes, even Gingrich and Gang in 1995 weren't so heartless as to refuse to retroactively pay federal employees furloughed in the government shutdown then.

But, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and gang are.
Rep. James Moran (D-Va), whose Northern Virginia district is home to thousands of federal employees, said furloughed workers should not expect to be paid, based on feedback he is getting from Republican colleagues in Congress.

“It is highly unlikely that about 1 million federal employees who are not working will ever be reimbursed,” Moran said in a conference call Wednesday with reporters. He called the majority of his GOP colleagues “far more anti-government in terms of their mindset” than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the 1990s shutdown, when Congress agreed to reimburse furloughed workers retroactively.
I would ordinarily say this would increase the "win" factor for Democrats of a shutdown, but tea partiers will massage this to blame Obama for the likely small minority of federal employees sympathetic to such a message. But, independent voters within federal employees are more numerous and more likely to believe Dems' messaging. Nonetheless, this isn't a slam dunk.

With Obama having "frenemies" like Joan Walsh

He doesn't need real friends.

Walsh, the Salon editor-in-chief, says she's not going to jump on Obama's 2012 campaign bandwagon and lists good reasons why.

Then, rather than talk up third-party options, she says she's going to vote for him anyway. Ugh.

Obama will veto anti-EPA bill

He's finally made a formal statement to that effect. It's nice to hear but what took so long?

April 05, 2011

Dear NYT - A paywall should mean better guest op-eds

Former GOP nutbar Congresscritter Curt Weldon talking about his personal plan to talk Gadhafi into exile does NOT qualify.

Weldon doesn't mention the backers of his initiative, with whom he is talking in Libya, etc. Given his past history of alleged financial improprieties, for the NYT to run a column like this without at least having a backgrounder news story is kind of laughable.

GOP wants to privatize Medicare

The LA Times story's headline doesn't tell you that. But, the body of the story does, loud and clear:
The proposal would rework Medicare by offering seniors a menu of private plans and restructure Medicaid funding into block grants distributed to the states.
True, it wouldn't apply to current recipients. And why not?

If privatization is so good, why not start it immediately?

You know the answer to that rhetorical question.

Because it would greatly hurt seniors. And, we can't have today's seniors voting on their pain.

And, David Brooks (surprise!) seems to have read a different story on Ryan's plans. All that's missing from the column is two under-55 Boboes and a line on Pop Ev Psych.

Michelle Bachmann lies about family tree

Ed Brayton has all the details. Here's a summary:
1. She's not a seventh-generation Iowan;
2. Here ancestors didn't "persevere" through 1860s weather problems;
3. Her Norwegian ancestors, while fairly early to Wisconsin (not Iowa) weren't in the earliest vanguard.

This is important not just because it shines light on her character but because tea partiers have pledged to not do politics as usual.

Southwest Airlines problems keep growing

Now, the discount airliner has grounded 79 planes in the aftermath of a forced landing in Yuma, Ariz. yesterday.

It's not the first time a Southwest plane has developed an in-flight hole in its fuselage.

Whether the 737-300s, compared to later models of the 737, have structural problems that appear after so many flight miles or what, I don't know. But, given that Southwest has had a bit of run-ins with the FAA in the past couple of years, it had better do a thorough inspection job.

Now, it appears cracks have been found in three more planes. The fact that they're all on rivet lines would be a bit disconcerting, I think.

Update, April 5: That said, it appears this problem is Boeing's and not Southwest's. The plane maker overestimated the number of flight cycles the 737-300s could withstand before needing regular inspections.

And, that leads to this angle, the WSJ says:
For Boeing, which has built its reputation on engineering prowess and a mastery of metal airframes, the miscalculations raise questions about its new models constructed with composite materials. Half of the company's coming 787 Dreamliner, for instance, is constructed of carbon-fiber composite material, with which Boeing has far less long-term experience than it does with metal.
The story goes on to note Boeing has had one misjudgment already on the Dreamliner, specifically on its joints.

Federal shutdown here we come?

Even as Speaker John Boehner tries to tell tea partiers a shutdown is a Democratic win, it looks more and more likely, as Beltway leaders say budget dealing is at an impasse.

Of course, this is the same Boehner who's offering a one-week extension in exchange for an additional $12 billion of cuts, talking out of both sides of his mouth at once. No wonder there's an impasse.

Meanwhile, wingnuts aren't buying into Boehner's worries:
“This is not 1995,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is considering a gubernatorial run in the Hoosier State. “We have the internet, we have talk radio, we have an infrastructure to get our message out.” ...

“Look — if liberals in the Senate and in this administration want to continue to play political games instead of accepting very modest budget cuts, then if they’d rather embrace a government shutdown than make a down payment on fiscal responsibility, then I say shut it down,” Pence said on the “Top Line” webcast. “And I still feel very strongly that way.”

“The people who seem to be afraid of a government shutdown … are worried about getting elected in two more years,” Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) told the Washington Post. “I’m worried about having to go home and tell the folks that I grew up with, and intend to spend the rest of my life with, that I’m a liar.”

Others in this group include Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Raul Labrador (Idaho), who called out Boehner during Monday’s session before being battered by his own freshmen colleagues the next morning.
Have fun, Big John.

Also, remember, Majority Leader Eric Cantor reportedly wants Boehner to fail. How much is he undercutting him in private?

And, Pence illustrates yet again how the Internet has its dark side. The tea partiers are in an echo chamber.

State Sen Ogden: Texas financing is broken

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden says the state may need to go back to its old franchise tax, the problem is that bad:
He says state law now requires spending more money in some areas than the state is allowed to collect. He calls that situation unstable and a big problem for the foreseeable future.

Lawmakers revamped the state business tax in 2006 at the same time they moved to cut property taxes. Experts say that left the state with a structural shortfall of about $10 billion every two years.
He actually wants a bigger change than that.

He'd like a straight-up corporate income tax.
“Even if you lose your shirt, you still may be liable for paying the business tax because it isn’t an income tax,” Ogden said. “That business tax is a mess.”
It takes cojones for a Republican to propose that. And, the devil would be in the details. But, Ogden's right on the need for change, and the need for serious change. Rick Perry's tweaking of the franchise tax WAS lipstick on a pig.

Realistically, though, nothing will change without yet another lawsuit by school districts.

One week worth $12B to Boehner

That's the price, in more spending cuts, Speaker of the House John Boehner has put on a one-week extension of temporary federal budgeting. Nice.

A chocolate toast at Chaco

This is very interesting news, and underscores that high-intensity trade linked the U.S. Southwest and Mesoamerica centuries ago.

Researchers have found traces of chocolate in drinking pottery at Chaco Canyon, the renowned Anasazi ruin site in New Mexico.

And, interestingly squared, the traces were found in "commoner" pottery, not just fancy stuff.
The vessels they examined came from the elite burial sites at Pueblo Bonito in roughly A.D. 900, and from the platform mound site of Los Muertos in Arizona. The latter is believed to have been the residence of elites among the Hohokam, an agricultural people, in the 14th century. They also tested eight pots from small pueblos that would have been inhabited by common folks.
Researcher Dorothy Washburn, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, believes turquoise was the primary exchange good for the chocolate.

Washburn said there also appears to be Mesoamerican-influenced design changes.

These two things, combined with trade of macaw feathers, may give more credence to the idea that Anasazi/Puebloan Kachina religion also came from Mesoamerica.

Goodell wants NFL to test for HGH — how about for PR?

Sounds great, no?

Well, no.

Reality is, Roger Goddell's claiming to want to improve the NFL drug testing program is PR and hyperbole.

1. There's not a good HGH testing program out there right now.
2. His league and owners are facing suits by both active and retired players over the league's lockout.

So, no, this is just Roger the Dodger trying to change the tune. Nothing more.

April 04, 2011

Matt Ridley — full-on libertarian?

I lived Ridley's book, "Nature via Nurture," several years ago. I loved it not only because it was good science writing, but because I thought it signaled the end of his Pop Ev Psych politics and thoughts.

Well, perhaps not so fast.

A month or so ago, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he appeared to dip at least one toe in the waters of climate climate denialism.

Now, he's arguing for free market solutions to obesity problems. And, again, in a WSJ op-ed.

So, maybe "Nature via Nurture" was just a phase. Whatever "conversion" was involved didn't fully stick.

If not a "full-on libertarian," at the least, his "rational optimism" puts him in the same camp, albeit focusing on different issues, as Clay Shirky et al.

Hell, next, he'll be asked to be on Skepticblog With Michael Shermer and Brian Dunning as another libertarian pseudoskeptic.

Meanwhile, his "rational optimism" is probably not rational. In the case of his partial degree, or whatever, of climate change denialism, it's certainly not "empirical optimism." And, on the issue of obesity, he's trying to "inflict" rationality on something not amenable to rational amelioration, at least to that part of obesity due to food addiction/compulsion.

And, his claim that we're all going to be super-rich in the not too distant future? That's likely as the stock market hitting 20,000 by 2010.

Actually, Ridley is more the full-on British version of an American financial sector clusterfucker.

While the ideas in "Nature via Nurture" are still good, he's got zero credibility as a science journalist now.

For a much longer review of "The Rational Optimist," go here.

Sam Power as next Sec'y of State? Ugh

Oh, she's a smart mind, indeed. And, I won't question her moral dedication. But, the U.S. can't get involved in every bit of every foreign nation's internal unrest, first of all. So, the idea of her becoming Obama's next Secretary of State, or National Security Adviser? Pass.


Second of all, who decides when it's just "unrest" and when it's "genocide"? Take former Syrian President Hafez Assad. Were his actions against his own people "just" putting down unrest, or something more? And, beyond racial or ethnic lines, how many groups will ask for a redefinition of what all constitutes genocide?

I do know, from what I've read about here that, smart as she is, she's not wrestled with those questions.

Beyond that, she's either a hypocrite, clueless, or a big suck-up, even by Beltway standards, if she thinks President Obama has "waged" a two-year campaign of elevating human rights issues, and that that led to intervention in Libya.

The reality?

1. First and foremost, just a month ago, we vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Israel and West Bank settlements, arguably a human rights violation itself.
2. Right now, we've been quiet on Bahrain squashing and quashing Shi'ite dissent.
3. A year ago, Obama had Hillary Clinton kissing Hosni Mubarak's ass.

April 03, 2011

Geoengineer against climate change? Eff you

A conference on climate geoengineering underscores one of the biggest reasons I oppose the idea — who makes the decisions on big-ticket geoengineering items?

Painting rooftops white, as the conference discussed, is one thing. (That said, I wouldn't call it "geoengineering." In the past, that word has been reserved for big-ticket items like seeding the atmosphere with aerosols, and this blog post will take it that way.)

Who makes the decisions what we're going to do, in terms of what substances or materials we use? Who makes the decisions as to who pays how much to fund this? If politicians override scientists, who holds them accountable, especially to swaths of conservative Americans who have shown themselves ready to be bamboozled by pseudoscience on so many issues in the past already?

Here's an American attendee, emphasizing the research need:
If climate engineering research isn't done now, climatologists say, the world will face grim choices in an emergency. "If we don't understand the implications and we reach a crisis point and deploy geoengineering with only a modicum of information, we really will be playing Russian roulette," said Steven Hamburg, a U.S. Environmental Defense Fund scientist.
But, that still doesn't answer all the questions above. And, if research is going to be just about the technology, and not paralleled by discussing the decision-making and the cost/payment issues, it's kind of senseless.

The first and second weren't addressed in the conference. As to the third?

Well, that leads to the issue of what I have called "salvific technologism," namely, the idea that technological advances are ALWAYS going to be the "cavalry" ready to ride over the hill in the nick of time. In the developed world, I think it's far and away the strongest in the U.S. That, in turn is because it dovetails so well with American exceptionalism. After all, Americans did Hoover Dam, the Manhattan Project, yada, yada, yada.

But, a look at previous U.S. attempts to "engineer" our ecology, on a smaller scale, show it's often been a big fat flop.

Tamarisk in the Southwest and kudzu in the Southeast are the two most glaring examples of that in terms of plant-based engineering.

Finally, "geoengineering" is a "tomorrow" solution to global warming and climate change. We don't have the specifics ironed out today? "No problem; we'll get to that tomorrow."

And, the conference DID, to its credit, address that:
Many here worried that someone, some group, some government would decide on its own to conduct large-scale atmospheric experiments, raising global concerns — and resentment if it's the U.S. that acts, since it has done the least among industrial nations to cut greenhouse emissions. They fear some in America might push for going straight to "Plan B," rather than doing the hard work of emissions reductions.
Here's the problem with geoengineering, in that way —

It doesn't require America, like the old Fram commercial, to pay up front now; it doesn't require Americans to face the cost of climate change and global warming. Beyond the "who's in charge" and "possible catastrophe" issues, that's the third reason to oppose geoengineering – it's a seductive mistress speaking honeyed words full of formlessness and void, to riff on the opening of Judeo-Christian scripture.

Kevin Drum has officially had his brain co-opted by Obama

Many Democratic partisans rightly attacked Bush on Iraq. And, they fought back against wingnut bloggers who said, "You can't question the president in a time of war!"

But, Kevin Drum, now of Mother Jones and formerly of Washington Monthly, and a neoliberal to some degree of long standing, is now close to that same territory with Obama.

Here's the nut graf (courtesy Glenn Greenwald):
So what should I think about [the war in Libya]? If it had been my call, I wouldn't have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.
(Italics added in quote.)

Drum has a follow-up post in response to Greenwald, where he shifts the goalposts a bit:
I think pretty highly of Barack Obama's judgment. But what does it mean to say that? Just this: that I think highly of his judgment even when I disagree with him. How could it be otherwise, after all? If, when you say that you trust somebody's judgment, what you really mean is that you trust their judgment only to the extent that they agree with you, that's hardly any trust at all. Just the opposite, in fact.

To make this more concrete, I also think highly of Glenn Greenwald's judgment on issues of civil liberties and the national security state. This means that when he takes a different position than mine, it makes me stop and think. ... This doesn't mean that I've outsourced my brain to Glenn, but it does mean that he influences my judgment, and that's especially true on issues that I'm unsure of.

Ditto for Obama.
OK, Mr. Drummeister, nice try but a fail.

In the follow-up, you didn't say you'd literally trust Greenwald's judgment better than your own in case of disagreement, unlike what you said with Obama.

A reminder. Kevin, in the original post you said:
I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own.
Earth to Kevin: Your brain has been co-opted.

And, so much for the "reality based community," eh? It's kind of Orwellian to put that type of trust in a leader. In his original post, Greenwald juxtaposed your comment with one by John Hindraker about Bush. Yeah, Hindlicker was more slobberingly effusive than you, but ... he's not an alleged member of the reality based community.

Beyond that, your first graf in the follow-up has a straw man, of the particular type I call "false polarities." I don't know about you, Drum, but here's how I operate on partitioning and sharing trust. I can disagree with someone on one issue yet trust their judgment on that issue, but I can also disagree with someone on an issue, even if I respect that person overall, yet NOT trust their judgment on that particular issue.

And, "Democrats right or wrong" bloggers like you are yet another reason I don't vote Democratic.

Beyond this, it's not a political issue, but one of integrity. If Drum made a statement like this about anybody, I'd question, if not his integrity, his self-actualization or something similar. To say you'd "literally" (and not mean that in a scare-quotes way) trust someone else's judgment over yours on an issue on which you disagree sounds like a psychological problem.

Kevin Drum hits new low in Obama butt-kissing

When running the Washington Monthly blog, he was bad enough, although much better than Steve Benen. (I haven't even gone there in more than a month.)

But, his new low? Well, many Democratic partisans rightly attacked Bush on Iraq. And, they fought back against wingnut bloggers who said, "You can't question the president in a time of war!"

But, Drum's now close to that same territory with Obama.

Here's the nut graf (courtesy Greenwald):
So what should I think about [the war in Libya]? If it had been my call, I wouldn't have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.
Of course, I haven't read MoJo in a while, either. And, with crap like that, I doubt I'll resume anytime soon.

Update, April 3: Drum has a follow-up post in response to Greenwald, where he shifts the goalposts a bit:
I think pretty highly of Barack Obama's judgment. But what does it mean to say that? Just this: that I think highly of his judgment even when I disagree with him. How could it be otherwise, after all? If, when you say that you trust somebody's judgment, what you really mean is that you trust their judgment only to the extent that they agree with you, that's hardly any trust at all. Just the opposite, in fact.

To make this more concrete, I also think highly of Glenn Greenwald's judgment on issues of civil liberties and the national security state. This means that when he takes a different position than mine, it makes me stop and think. ... This doesn't mean that I've outsourced my brain to Glenn, but it does mean that he influences my judgment, and that's especially true on issues that I'm unsure of.

Ditto for Obama. Unlike Glenn, perhaps, I'm unsure about the wisdom of our Libya intervention, and the fact that I'm unsure makes me more open to giving Obama's judgment a fair amount of weight in this matter. That's what it means to respect another person's judgment. On the other hand, as my post made clear, it doesn't mean that he's persuaded me. As I said twice, I think the Libya intervention was mistake. I wouldn't have done it. But partly because a president I respect disagrees, I'm open to the possibility that I'm wrong. His position has made me stop and think.
The first graf? A straw man, of the particular type I call "false polarities." I don't know about Drum, but here's how I operate on partitioning and sharng trust. I can disagree with someone on one issue yet trust their judgment on that issue, but I can also disagree with someone on an issue, even if I respect that person overall, yet NOT trust their judgment on that particular issue.

Take Greenwald. I agree with him on a lot of issues, and, respect him, but I've busted his chops before here, and will do so again, now, for not speaking out about ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero teaching the Ford Foundation how to comply with the patriot Act, and the big ACLU board brouhaha and ultimate dissenters' purge that follows. I know Glenn is solid with the ACLU, but I think he's too tight; he doesn't promote alternative groups such as Center for Constitutional Rights on anything close to a regular basis.

Drum then has a second straw man: that one MUST show one's brain has not been co-opted by disagreeing with someone, and making that protest in public. Silence is another way of doing that.

That said, Kevin, in the original post you said:
I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own.
Earth to Kevin: Your brain has been co-opted.

And, as for Greenwald taking an "appallingly hostile" reading of your original post? In his follow-up, he was pretty darn generous. In fact, too generous, in my opinion.