July 28, 2012

Head of Koch-funded project: #globalwarming is real

Richard Mueller, leader of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, partially funded by the Koch Brothers (background here from Joe Romm) now  confirms that he is a "converted skeptic" and that, as preliminary reporting on this suggested months ago, he now accepts that global warming is real and largely caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

Here's the nut graf:
CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified scientific issues that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Now, after organizing an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I’ve concluded that global warming is real, that the prior estimates of the rate were correct, and that cause is human.
The gist of the study, based on Mueller's previous skepticism, was to look at things like urban heat islands that he thought might be skewing climate and temperature information. And, Mueller found out that that simply wasn't true.

And the key finding?
Our results show that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, and one and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase is due to the human emission of greenhouse gases.
Is it that bad?

Yes. Mueller, like many environmentalists worried about global warming, even says the denier-maligned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been conservative with its own statements:
These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming. In its 2007 report, the IPCC concluded only that most of the warming of the prior 50 years could be attributed to humans. 
And, without being alarmist, Mueller is worried about the future. He says we've baked in a fair amount of additional temperature increase, even if we get totally serious about CO2 emissions. And, if we don't?
What about the future?  As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise.  With a simple model (no tipping points, no sudden increase in cloud cover, a response to gases that is “logarithmic”) I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about 1.5 degree F over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included.  But if China continues its rapid growth (it has averaged 10% per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (typically adding one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.
Notice that he specifically excludes "tipping points" and logarithmic changes. Read the whole thing. And keep an eye out for when his group posts complete data, as promised.

And, what will Reason say in its follow-up? It's interesting, at least, to see that it is posting the op-ed ... and without criticism in the negative sense.

And ... what if anything will the Koch Bros say?

Go get lost

No, that's not an equivalent of "go get stupid."

Rather, it's a summary of Nick Kristof's new column about the virtues of hiking, including taking the risk of getting lost.  And I largely agree.

Helicopter parents and other things have made more and more people afraid of the outdoors. (Note: I have actually gotten lost, way in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park. And, I've had black bears walk through campsites of mine more than once. So I have personal experience.)

Yes, there's a lot of "faddism" in research about nature deprivation today, but a fair amount of it is true. It's a way of grounding ourselves and escaping the relentlessness of the modern American world. (I didn't say "Western"; most Europeans still use much of their longer vacations to get out and about in nature, and aren't so obsessive about being "turned on" either.)

Besides, unless we destroy it, there's good stuff to listen to out there. That, as well as the sights of nature, is part of the relaxation, even healing and nurturing, it offers.

July 27, 2012

Once again, John Sharp is not a real Dem

The former Texas politico's jobs outsourcing plan for Texas A&M University kind of shows that. (That said, a kudo to the Texas Tribune for writing a story that could appear even mildly critical of A&M, a "sponsor" of the nonprofit newspaper; of course, the repeated references to the University of Texas' Longhorn Network take that back with the other hand.)

Bigger question is ... why can't A&M save more money elsewhere, and how much of this is a problem with modern universities in general, how much a problem with modern state universities in general, how much a problem at Texas state schools, and how much is specific to A&M? 

Some conservatives will say too much college tuition funding inflates education. Wrong; more and more of that today is loans, not grants, when, arguably, big businesses often run by conservatives inflate the need for degrees.

Some communitarian-type liberals will say the "professor as rock star" plus general collegiate competitiveness fueled by things such as Forbes and U.S. News rating lists, is a fair part of the problem. Could be, just as more and more doctors today, in part to pay off loans but more, in many cases, just to be more businessman-like, study/enter specialized medical fields.

Maybe it's administrative salaries, in small part, combined with an academics as business mindset in general.

Anyway, with a school as big as A&M in a relatively small "metro" area like Bryan-College Station, you bet outsourcing could hurt other businesses. As well as employees. What happens after that two-year transition, and will the Trib either ask that now, or in two years?

July 26, 2012

If Facebook were Microsoft

My friend Leo Lincourt has inspired me into another blog post!

In a Facebook exchange, Leo said:
Fb needs Clippy. "It looks like you're drunk posting, or need remedial language lessons. I'll just delete that for you."
And, that inspired me into more thought.

But, if Microslob has already effed up Clippy, could you imagine what Marky Mark and the Facebook Funky Bunch would do?

Dear User — this is Flippy, your personal Facebook assistant. I think you're typing on someone else's post, but, as only 16 percent of content gets shared here even with close friends, I'm not sure.

Are you:
1. Trying to play a Zynga game? Thank you; we can't afford for its stock to tank any more.
2. Wanting to "like" a corporate ad? Please make sure your share settings are set to our new "public plus" so we can send that to everybody.
3. Trying to share yet ANOTHER photo, while typing your own lame-o comment on top of it? If you're going to share, at least let the original content stand as is.
4. Trying to your own status. Is that wise? Do that many people want to read it? I mean, I'm an online collection of electrons and I'm ... Zzzzzzzz
5. Post another Snooki link? Please, you've hit your three-Snooki limit for the day and you're cut off.
6. Trying to delete your account? Silly — didn't you know you can check out but never leave at Hotel Facebook Zuckerberg?

Of course, the real Microsoft, while buggy, at least knew how to make money without being a privacy-invading rectal irritant like Facebook.

In defense of passive-aggressiveness

First, the very phrase sounds like it was invented, as a pejorative, by an aggressive-aggressive Type A American male. And, we all know those red-blooded Type A American males, and much of the country along with them, love aggressive-aggressiveness.

However ... and second ... much of American imperialism is passive-aggressive.

Rather than just attack American Indian tribes, we first make treaties with them, then break them, or get partial tribal representation to sign new ones which most the whites know aren't really binding in Indian terms. However we do it, we first butter them up, then attack.

Or, dollar diplomacy. Here, Caribbean nation, we want to lend you money to help you become more democratic (and more capitalist). No, we don't have imperial motives. Oh, but can't repay? Well, like Maximilian of France/Austria in Mexico, we'll just have to invade. (Today, we're kinder and take it to the IMF instead.)

Or neoconservativism. Here, Middle East ... we want to make you democratic. But, with a new version of the old American-leaning, Israel-tolerating elites in power. And, you still have to protect our oil interests.

In short, passive-aggressiveness is the story of American imperialism.

Third, in today's aggressive-aggressive (and passive-aggressive, via "free trade") American economy, employees, contra self-empowerment gurus, usually don't have the luxury of saying "I quit" to the boss, let alone "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more."

Passive-aggressiveness isn't "wrong" in such cases; it's the best viable option for maintaining one's personal integrity, one's "space," one's mental self-defenses and more.

Beyond that, things like "blue flu," job slowdowns and the like have been, in the past, classic tools of American labor.

Now, if you're dealing with an equal, I won't defend passive-aggressiveness. And certainly not if you're inflicting it on an inferior.

But, to a superior?

Hell, yes!

I raise my glass in a toast to passive-aggressiveness!

July 25, 2012

Reason 10,100 to vote Green - Geithner, Fed, Libor, criminality

Tim Geithner
Looks like Dear Leader, by extension, is even dirtier in relation to the banksters than we might even have dreamed, up to this point.

Seems like the New York Federal Reserve, helmed at the time by Preznit Kumbaya's current, and original, Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, already knew in 2008 that Barclay's, at least, was fudging on Libor rates.

Here's the start of the information about Timmy G. and gang apparently turning a deliberately blind eye toward London Interbank Offered Rate interest-rate manipulations by Barclays, manipulations which have already made hot news across the pond in Great Britain, but have yet to register here in the U.S. Maybe this will register:
Although the New York Fed conferred with Britain and American regulators about the problems and recommended reforms, it failed to stop the illegal activity, which persisted through 2009.

British regulators have said that they did not have explicit proof then of wrongdoing by banks. But the Fed’s documents, which were released at the request of lawmakers, appear to undermine those claims.
And, oops, the NYT kind of buried the lede. Timmy G. and gang already had some "knowing" in 2007:
The New York Fed learned about concerns over the integrity of Libor in summer 2007, when a Barclays employee e-mailed a New York Fed official, saying, “Draw your own conclusions about why people are going for unrealistically low” rates. Barclays wrote in a September report, “Our feeling is that Libors are again becoming rather unrealistic and do not reflect the true cost of borrowing.”
Uhh, in the real world, this would be called criminal malfeasance.  But, not in the world of Timmy G.

Instead, it gets labeled "market chatter" and swept under the rug.

Plus, the 2007 date also undercuts the NY Fed's claim that it had too much other stuff on its hands in 2008 to worry about this issue.

Here's more on that 2007 "knowing":
When the New York Fed raised concerns in 2008, Barclays has been trying to manipulate the interest rate for nearly three years, and the practice continued until 2009.
Emphasis added on those "nearly three years." So this goes back to early 2006, or even 2005. And, little Timmy G. was NY Fed president already back in 2003.

And, to spin things out further. If Mitt Romney's a perjurer for making a false statement to the SEC, then what is Geithner, whose blind eye, to be charitable, on this issue, helped the Bain Capitals of the world make even more money on financial manipulation years later?

So, Timmy G. was abetting apparently criminal activity by at least one big bankster three full years before he became Secretary of the Treasury. (Actually, it appears there were two separate manipulation plans, but ... Barclays got a non-prosecution deal ... from Team Obama. And a pretty weak one. That said, how do we know it's living up to terms of the deal?)

(Update, July 25 — Unfortunately, Geithner's House testimony on the issue turned partisan, with Democrats feeling they had to cover his back. And, no wonder why:
“We took the initiative to bring those concerns to the broader regulatory community,” Mr. Geithner said, referring to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission. “I believe we did the necessary and appropriate thing very early in the process,” he said.

But Mr. Geithner on Wednesday also acknowledged that he did not alert federal prosecutors to the wrongdoing.

Now, House Dems claim Geithner deserves kudos for championing Libor reforms. Excuse me, but where are those reforms?)

And ... do you really expect this administration to lay the hammer down on other banksters as a result of any information Barclays squirts out?

Meanwhile, Geithner's boss has a "checking" account worth at least $500,000 with the biggest bankster of them all. And, speaking of that, it looks like the losses are higher than first reported on Jaime Dimon's botched trades.

Supposedly, the NY Fed is "examining the valuation of the trades." Yeah, right. It's either Keystone Kops incompetence, or Richard J. Daley-type Chicago police, investigating with an "open hand."

Meanwhile, former TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky's "Bailout" is out, and Yves Smith explains that it shows even more what a hack Geithner was. (And is, I'll add.)

Explain to me again (picture that Gene Wilder photo with Photoshopped lettering that you may see on Facebook) just how liberal Team Obama is.

Meanwhile, this makes David Brooks' recent column about why today's elites behave as they do kind of interesting. He calls the Barclays types (though writing too early to include Dimon, if would do that) "brats." So, does that make Timmy G. an even bigger brat? The brat-fox "guarding" the brathouse?

Some election-related thoughts below the fold.

#RonPaul Fed audit bill doesn't go far enough

Oh, Ron Paul's bill — now overwhelmingly approved in the House — calling for a regular, extensive audit of the Federal Reserve is nice enough, I suppose. (And this is likely the last time I agree with  Paul on anything.)

But, as the Geithner/Barclays/Libor fiasco at the New York Federal Reserve shows, auditing only "The" Fed, and not the regional Feds, or at least the NY Fed with its special oversight of Wall Street, isn't good enough.

How many people realize that the 12 regional Feds are almost totally private entities, yet have major powers themselves? From Wikipedia's entry on the Federal Reserve System:
The Federal Reserve System's structure is composed of the presidentially appointed Board of Governors (or Federal Reserve Board), the Federal Open Market CommitteeFederal Reserve Banks located in major cities throughout the nation, numerous privately owned U.S. member banks and various advisory councils. ...  The Federal Reserve System has both private and public components, and was designed to serve the interests of both the general public and private bankers. The result is a structure that is considered unique among central banks.
And, there's the problem.

Now, unlike Paul,  and many of his goldbug wingnut followers, I don't want to abolish the Fed, not in the sense of getting rid of a central bank entirely. That's even more retrograde than the gold standard.

I do, though, want to reform the current Fed.

We don't need to have 2/3 of the board of each regional Fed nominated by private banks, with half of those,  or 1/3 total directly controlled by them and the other half (1/3 total) allegedly representing "the public." Really, this means banks control 2/3 of the nine board members.

Instead, give one of those three votes to credit unions, one to savings and loans, and maybe one to pension funds. That's just for starters.

There's much more that's needed. I'm not sure that we don't even need to have a fully nationalized central bank like the European Central Bank. Because, here's the ultimate problem with the regional Feds:
The Federal Reserve Banks have an intermediate legal status, with some features of private corporations and some features of public federal agencies. The United States has an interest in the Federal Reserve Banks as tax-exempt federally-created instrumentalities whose profits belong to the federal government, but this interest is not proprietary. In Lewis v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that: "The Reserve Banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of the FTCA [the Federal Tort Claims Act], but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations."
Further details partially qualify that, but, there you go ... for all intents and purposes, the regional Feds are primarily private entities.

I do know that we ought to have the Fed chairman term-limited. Yes, Bill Clinton was gullible enough, and neoliberal enough, to keep appointing Alan Greenspan. But, assuming it was neoliberalism as the primary culprit, term limits would have nipped that in the bud.

Now, if we can't "reform" the Fed, then I say —replace it! But don't abolish it and replace it with nothing.

#GnuAtheist fail: Being obscenely rich is OK

Ron Lindsay
Paul Kurtz was pushed out from the Center for Free Inquiry several years ago for a variety of reasons,  but one of them was surely the desire to make CFI more focused on Gnu Atheism rather than old-fashioned secular humanism.

The sure death knell for that older era has to be this blog post by new CEO Ron Lindsay. He says, in essence, the rich can be as rich as they want and it's no skin off my atheist teeth. He calls the post "Humanism and Wealth," but there's no humanism that I see in it.
The way I interpret humanism, it has no problem with wealth per se, or with significant disparities in income and wealth. Humanism does commit one to support democracy and equal rights for all, however. Failure to curb the influence of money on our political process could turn us into an oligarchy in all but name and devalue the rights of the majority. 
So, like some versions of libertarians (Glenn Greenwald comes to mind), Ron is only worried about how money affects political campaigns.

But, politics, in a democracy, simply cannot be disaggregated from larger social issues.   And Lindsay, as a lawyer who's worked in D.C. and who is a philosopher, knows that. Or, if he doesn't, we have a new example of the Peter Principle.

Beyond that, wealth influences politics in many ways, well before Citizens United. We're talking lobbying. The money to pay for tax lawyers to find loopholes, etc.

It's simply unbelievable that Lindsay has about zip on critical thinking skills on this issue. (It's also clear that his personal definition of humanism is pretty narrow; more on that below.)

Indeed, that  lack of critical thinking is enough  that my snarky/joking thought at one point was, Ron's either writing a Poe, or else this is a way of proving CFI's "diversity," even regarding money, and insulating itself from the next #skeptatheistchick controversy.

But, to be serious again, let's get back to the first half of that pull quote:
The way I interpret humanism, it has no problem with wealth per se, or with significant disparities in income and wealth.
So, as long as your money doesn't influence politics (and we've already seen how wealth influences politics in ways he's myopic about), Ron Lindsay doesn't care how stinking, filthy rich you are. Or how little you give to charity. Or even how much you bash the poor for causing their own poverty, allegedly. Doesn't that sound like the Success Gospel version of modern Religious Right Christianity?

However, the libertarianism of Lindsay's thoughts is attractive to at least some commenters, which also proves P.Z. Myers wrong when he claims all good Gnus are good liberals. (I've blogged previously on Gnus' lack of political critical thinking; my most recent previous thought on that is here.)

For example, a Craig talks about "petty jealousy" by the less well off. Yep, that's why class warfare is usually actually started by the rich, who then pretend they've done no such thing, and, when called to account, trot out  phrases like that..

Others, though, "get it." Jake talks about income inequality in the U.S. versus Europe. Reality? MEXICO has less income inequality than the U.S. Yes, you read that right.

Commenter Matt gets it right, otherwise, in part related to that. Money, in such cases, is ultimately about power. Power, influence and fame that money can buy are often stock-in-trade for the rich.

Or, I can be snarky again. Lindsay is trying to recoup all the donor money lost after CFI shoved Paul Kurtz out the door, and is saying, "we love the rich." 

Let's get back to more seriousness, though.

If Ron isn't soliciting rich, new donors, this is another good example of how Gnu Atheism as an evangelistic movement continues to shoot itself in the foot.

I start with Jen McCreight, and others, wearing T-shirts talking about wanting to "destroy religion" at the skeptics' rally in D.C. this spring. Well, many people of atheist leaning have religious family and friends, still. Even if they have disagreements with them, they still normally want to remain on speaking terms.

Then, there's claims that the young former atheist at Harvard who became a Catholic never could have been a "true atheist." Really? How do you know.

Related to that is the claim that Faux News talking head S.E. Cupp isn't an atheist. There, Gnus are probably right; she's probably using the word "atheist" to mean "nonreligious" if she's sincere about the claim. That said, since Gnus seem to wrongly equate "atheist" with "ANTIreligious," they're not really in a good place to judge others' language use.

And now, this. The "this" includes Lindsay's narrow definition, or calculating redefinition, of what "humanism" is. That, too, possibly relates to shoving Paul Kurtz out the door at CFI.

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and Gnus either don't get that ... or don't care.

It may be, for some at least, the latter.

In that case, we probably, in what will make Islamophobic Gnus like Sam Harris vomit their lunches for sure, should call Gnu Atheism a "jihad" of sorts, not just evangelistic, at least among the McCreights and Myerses of the world. Neither one is good tactically in a pluralistic America, though.

UPDATE, July 13: Lindsay has responded. More below the fold, along with some broader observations.

July 24, 2012

Smarts tops sentiment in Seattle as M's move Ichiro

Ichiro, in his first game as a Yankee./NY Daily News pic
Smart deal for the Seattle Mariners with the trade deadline approaching, to move iconic outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees.
Some baseball fans, whether general fans, Ichiro fans, or Yankee fans, are expecting a big bounce-back.

To which I say, fugeddaboutit.

Don't forget, he's already got 8,500 career plate appearance in the US, and what, 3,500-4,000 in Japan?  12,000 total major league appearances puts him in the top 20 all time in the US in MLB plate appearances, if we count Japan as equal; 12,500 puts him in the top 10.

In other words, what I'm saying in general and politely saying to baseball friends of mine is that Ichiro's tank is running out of gas and he won't get a magic rejuvenation in Yankee Stadium. In fact, the trade for him shows that the M's definitely weren't going to pay a lot for him to stay (and he wanted to move on anyway), and that the Yankees aren't too worried about not resigning him, either. 

Indeed, the Yankees, too, think there's not much gas left in Ichiro's tank. Pre-trade, they gave him a list of conditions for him to accept. One was that he might get benched against lefty pitchers. Add in that they've already said they consider him a left-fielder, and unless he shows definite improvement, he's not long for the MLB world. There's not a lot of big contract for old, platooning, low-power left fielders. Not even in the National League and certainly not in the American League.
A team source acknowledged that if the player's name wasn't Ichiro, the Yankees probably wouldn't have had any interest in the outfielder, who is batting a career-low .261 this season.

But the consensus among Yankees scouts was that Ichiro was "bored" playing for the last-place Mariners and was "playing down to his surroundings." The Yankees hope this situation will reverse itself with the 38-year-old Ichiro suddenly shifted to a first-place team with a legitimate hope of reaching the World Series.

Yankees scouts reported that Ichiro's athleticism and defensive abilities were undiminished, another factor that influenced New York to take the leap of faith that Ichiro could return to a semblance of his former effectiveness.
I agree with the first graf and call bullshit on the next two. If his defensive abilities really are undiminished, why have the Yankees already said they're looking at him playing LF, not RF? 

Rather, I go back to the fact that he's simply hitting the wall.

But, let's say they do have some interest in resigning him next year.

I'm guessing that even with a relatively hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, his lines next year don't  crack .285 BA, .725 OPS and 25 SB. (Or fewer than 25 SB if he's platooning.)

But, that's assuming the Yankees do. Or, that it's to be a third, rather than fourth, outfielder.

Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner have two spots locked up next year, assuming Gardner's healthy. The Yankees could well bring back at least one of the two of Raul Ibanez or Andruw Jones.

Both of them are free agents, but should be cheap ones. (If Ibanez doesn't retire.)

The big question is, do the Yanks keep Nick Swisher, also a FA? If so, then Ichiro is definitely the No. 4 OF, if he's interested in staying. If not, and they don't resign Ibanez or Jones either one, I think they still want a bat with more bop than Ichiro's as the No. 3 OF.

So, unless Ichiro translates that batting-practice home run stroke to the field, he's just a rent-a-player in Gotham.

And, next year, unless he does show at least a bit of his legendary batting-practice power in games, he  won't be worth more than $3M a year.

Let's put it this way. The Nationals just cut Rick Ankiel. I'd take him — younger, better defense and more power, at the tradeoff of lower BA and many more strikeouts — over Ichiro. 

July 23, 2012

Is it #NCAA boycott time over #PSU and Sandusky?

Bobby Bowden's right — tear it down!
ESPN photo
Update, July 23: Yes, the NCAA penalty is strong, but is it strong enough. Time to boycott?

On the other hand, Yahoo's Dan Wetzel says it's worse than the "death penalty." We shall see.

That said, as I read more, I do think the NCAA was very serious. I like what I read; it's just too bad that Paterno isn't still alive himself to see all those wins vacated. At least his wife is.

Original blog follows:

I agree totally with the many commentators who say Penn State deserves, and needs to get, the "death penalty" from the NCAA for its football program. It deserves it far more than Southern Methodist University.

Hell, in this ESPN piece about college administrators versus college athletics, in the video at the top (sharing blocked right now) fellow NCAA coaching icon Bobby Bowden says Penn State should pull down its Joe Paterno statue. (Try this URL for just the video.) And, he's right — the man should be, if others get indicted, quite arguably be named as an unindicted co-conspirator, because conspire he did.

But, this is the NCAA we're talking about. Nobody's gotten the death penalty, or close to it, since SMU. And, so far, the NCAA has been mum about the Freeh report. And, it may well continue to be.

Is it possible that it will take the push of a threatened boycott of watching NCAA football, and maybe even a boycott of NCAA advertisers, to get it to do the right thing? Then, we need to start talking about that NOW.

And, if you're a serious college football fan, but a decent human being at the same time, you need to decide on which side of the bread your priorities are buttered.

And, beyond that, let's tell the NCAA it needs to engage in other massive housecleaning. If that includes revisiting the issue of pay for athletes, then that's what it includes. The NCAA must address ALL issues related to institutional governance and how best to improve them.

Finally, we know why Paterno's wife is lying about him. She's trying to protect her finances at least as much as his legacy.

Someone else not totally in the world of honesty? Joe Posnanski, who is actually trying to flog his new Joe Paterno hagiography, all while refusing to answer questions about the book or his book tour (which his publisher has scaled back).  There's bupkis about Paterno on his blog, too.

July 22, 2012

Is drugging up mentally ill patients for trial unconstitutional?

The recent movie shootings in the Denver suburb of Aurora made me think of what's a common practice in Texas when a heinous crime is allegedly committed by someone who was apparently mentally ill at the time.

Texas often psychologically medicates suspects in such cases into what it argues is a reasonable fascimile of sanity for them to stand trial. And it got me to wondering if this is constitutional.

First, on Fifth Amendment grounds, isn't a "sane" John Doe arguably a John Doe whom the prosecution will in some way try to force to testify, if you will, against the "insane" John Doe who allegedly committed the crime?

Second, isn't preventing the jury from seeing said John Doe in his alleged mental state at the time of the crime prohibiting the suspect's defense from mounting a fully adequate legal defense?

I'm no lawyer, just an intelligent, curious layperson who just started pondering this.

If not an issue of constitutionality in the trial itself, certainly in sentencing, it seems like this is a tough burden.