Christopher Hitchens and moral glibness

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64 Responses

  1. Avatar Justin_Anderson says:

    I’m constantly mystified by the way in which our political discourse “works.” It alone is a strong indicator that the idea of meritocracy, as practiced here in the US, is bunkum.Report

  2. I don’t read enough Hitchens to weigh in effectively, but this story from Michael Totten has stuck with me such that it makes me believe that Hitchens always means what he says in a way that few people do, whether one agrees with it or not.Report

  3. What’s even more idiotic is that since Hitchens’s prejudices don’t fit into either the “liberal” (against both religion and war) or “conservative” (for both of these) bucket, he’s treated as a ruggedly individual thinker, where he in fact a brilliant polemicist of no discoverable brains. (And a drunk, which is the simple explanation for the behavior Totten describes.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The simple explanation for defacing swastikas is too much booze?

      If it weren’t for Prohibition, maybe we could have gotten more beer to Germany in the 30’s…Report

    • I don’t remember any acknowledgment from Totten who was present for the whole thing that Hitchens’ behaviour stemmed out of his being drunk. I remember a bunch of people speculating that Hitchens was drunk because he has been known to get drunk, but I don’t recall the people present confirming that speculation. Of course, I could be wrong and don’t really have a dog in the “Hitchens is good vs. Hitchens is bad” race, but drunk or no, that story has and continues to stick with me as a striking example of someone sticking to that which they believe in a very real way.Report

      • It strikes me as more of an example of how someone in an unfamiliar place without a clue how things work there almost got himself and his friends killed because he had to act out. (Not that I’m defending swastikas. But even someone as screwed up as Holden Caulfield eventually figured out that “If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the ‘Fuck you’ signs in the world. It’s impossible.”)Report

        • Yeah, fair ball. I remember in writing about the incident that more than a few people responded by saying that it was a dumb move on Hitch’s part and I don’t necessarily disagree with that. I certainly wouldn’t be inclined to do the same. But I think it does go against the notion that Hitchens is morally glib in terms of his beliefs. Now, whether that, in turn, makes him a valuable writer is for someone who reads him more regularly than I do to determine.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    “I’m tired of people who treat politics as a game to be won and loss and not as a serious endeavor with real consequences for real people. ”

    I just want to throw this thought out there for you to consider. When I was in school in Nova Scotia (Canadia) my teacher took our class to visit the provincial legislature. As we were looking at the benches for the opposition and government MLA’s he mentioned that the distance between the two sides was historically measured by the distance of a sword held out at arms length from either side. So neither side would be within swords range of the other. There was a lot of conversation over this and talk about politics in general, especially the game of it. And my teacher made an observation. (Which I paraphrase)
    Of course politics are a game, it’s important that they be so. Politics are very much a game in every civilized country in the world. Because when politics stop being a game, that’s when people start dying.

    That has always stuck with me; the two sides of parliament two swords lengths apart. That’s the distance Jamelle, two swords lengths. That’s politics. And when politics stop being a game, when you get closer that two swords lengths? That’s when the older darker games come out, the games of clubs and blood. That’s when people start dying.Report

    • Avatar Katherine says:

      I beg to differ. It’s possible to take politics seriously without the use of violence.

      It’s not always a game. Sometimes it is – quarrels over the Conservative party logo on giant checks, attack ads flying back and forth (…okay, unidirectionally), artificial scandals and manufactured outrage over opponents failing to play nice. But there are decisions to be made that have consequences. Decisions about funding affect how many people will freeze to death on the streets this winter. Decisions about about war, that ask whether the sacrifices of lives, civilian or military, are worth what we’re fighting for. Decisions that affect whether our country continues to exist or falls apart – Canadians of all people should know politics is important.

      There are important decisions to be made. And we should hold politicians, the press, and anyone else to account when they treat such things as no more than pieces in a political game.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Dude. This floored me.

      I love it.Report

    • Avatar JosephFM says:

      The Hobbesian pessimist in me largely agrees with you, insofar as that’s the primary reason why I can’t get too worked up over taxes and the like: because it’s better than the alternative.

      The problem, North, is that when something happens that makes the stakes truly life and death again, our political culture often acts like nothing’s changed. It treats that – the swords and clubs and death – as if it were a game, no different from the shouting matches on TV. There’s a fundamental inability to process when things have stopped just being games, and to write off anyone who tries to point out the stakes as “unserious”. Hell no, y’all are the unserious ones!Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Katherine and Joseph I’m going to try and answer you both in one post for brevity’s sake, thank you for your input. I want to start off making sure that it’s clear that I don’t consider my original post a complete answer to Jamelle’s frustrations. I just am interested in making sure that the value of the game of politics is given it’s due.
      Also (full disclosure) I’m half American and living in the states so I’ve got a pretty muddled view of North American politics. Worse, I’m poorly read into political theory or even philosophy. I’m a BBA in accounting and my electives were used to get a minor in finance so the only philosophy class I’ve taken were several business ethics classes (don’t laugh).

      Both of your points are similar so I thought I could address them together. They both amount to an observation that things that you respectively think are too important for politics are being subjected to the game. To answer Joseph you bring up wars but I feel that you are off base when talking about wars and specifically our current wars. I feel this way because the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq represented wars that we went to pretty much outside of the normal “game” of politics. An event, 9/11, occurred that pretty much knocked us out of normal game mode. To our terrible misfortune the executive (An office established by the founders to essentially handle any issues that were too immediate to be left to the game of politics) at the time was occupied by George W. Bush (and I’d also add no small amount of blame lies on Gore for managing to loose to the man and of course a great heaping of it on us the voters) and he took us into Afghanistan and Iraq. But consider how he did it. Everyone was up in arms over the attack and in essence the normal game of Washington was suspended. So essentially we went to war because of a LACK of the political game, not because of an excess of it.

      To address your point Katherine I agree that politics has serious consequences like children freezing to death but where I disagree with you is that the issues are as simple as you present them. Yes children will die perhaps due to lack of funding for heating but excessive funding of heating will also cause people, even children perhaps, to die due to money being taken from other resources. All the issues cut both ways, including public health care. Yes people are dying due to lack of health care but we can’t ignore that any system we erect will also kill people. Global warming especially is one where people will die if nothing is done but we cannot forget that if we divert significant portions of our GDP or future GDP growth to reducing emissions that will also cause people to die. These issues are serious and complicated but we can’t truly find the optimal solution by trying to find ways of getting around the political game. The best solution I would think lies in playing the game more, not less. On the issue of health care it looks like we’re finally winning (and I’m delighted we are). The reason that the game is going the way the game is going is because a huge, an enormous in fact, numbers of our fellow citizens don’t agree with us on the big issues. The game is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It’s keeping huge numbers of people from rioting and clubbing each other over the head over these questions. That it’s taking so long is a testament to how complicated and controversial the issues are.

      And now I’ve written a rambling essay and for that I apologize. Of course we have to try and push things along and we have to always beware of making a fetish out of the process and never get anything done. But we forget at our peril that the game exists to protect us all through balancing our disagreements and that one swords length to the right is anarchy and one sword length to the left is tyranny. Balance in all things.Report

      • Avatar Kyle says:

        I really agree with this and have been trying to get my thoughts into a reasonably coherent post (haven’t yet) but really, good job.

        The reduction here is that politics lowers the stakes of resource competition. Which doesn’t mean it’s perfect, can’t be improved, or doesn’t result in bad outcomes. It does mean that water rights disputes result in heated arguments and not civil war in the southwest.Report

      • Avatar Katherine says:

        In Canada, Afghanistan is not outside “normal” politics.

        It is true that no policy is perfect; it is not true that there is no moral difference between difference policies, or that politics should be a game. And it is not true that “well, every policy will cause people to die”. Replacing the corporate tax rate at the level it was a few years ago and putting some extra money towards fighting poverty – at home and abroad – would be a morally good policy.

        And on your comments about the Iraq War – it happened precisely because of the problems Jamelle is talking about: blanket opposition to aggressive war is never responsible or reasonable, blanket support for it always is. The media taking what the people they define as “responsible” say as gospel without investigating facts. An utter disregard for the potential consequences of a policy of war adopted in haste.

        Balance? The percieved balance that exists in American politics is between the hawkish and the slightly less hawkish; between people who want to use torture and people who just want to cover it up. That is not the balance that exists in real life, but it’s the one the only widely visible political debate is about. And it’s a false balance, and it isn’t one people ought to support.

        I believe there is such a thing as the truth, and speaking it shouldn’t be regarded as radical. The truth is often complicated; most of the time there aren’t clear-cut policies that are obviously right and ones that are obviously wrong. But if we don’t even acknowledge what it is, acknowledge that policies do have consequences and aren’t just a way of winning points and moving in the polls, than our politics is going to be built on a lie. So let the facts be established, then people may disagree on the solutions all they like.Report

        • Avatar Kyle says:

          Replacing the corporate tax rate at the level it was a few years ago and putting some extra money towards fighting poverty – at home and abroad – would be a morally good policy.

          It can still be a morally good policy and kill people. Just saying. They aren’t as mutually exclusive as we’re led to believe.

          Just because a law is intended to do X doesn’t mean it will do X and only X. It’s important to remember that a.) policy changes have diverse and complicated effects and b.) what we’re discussing more often than not is a matter of degree or a trade-off.

          What it comes down to is that politics and society is like Jenga, you have people on the left saying we can remove that block no problem and people on the right saying if you touch it the world will end in Socialist Islamo-fascist gay marriage. The truth isn’t equivalence but it is that sometimes each side will be right and sometimes they’ll be wrong.

          Also, I don’t think North meant Afghanistan is still outside of normal politics…merely that it was when it was initiated.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Well yes Katherine, in Canada the Afghanistan war wasn’t exactly outside normal politics. And the Canadian Afghan war is going to end from normal politics by all appearences and good for it. But in America the wars were definitly outside the normal game. The ash rained down in New York, the Executive took charge as it’s supposed to do in such emergencies. The opposition was shocked into almost silence and off the country went.

          It wasn’t until later that we remembered that we’d put Gilligan in the drivers seat in the previous election.Report

          • Avatar Barry says:

            “It wasn’t until later that we remembered that we’d put Gilligan in the drivers seat in the previous election.”

            And that was the result of treating politics as a game. In a more serious system, Gore would have been a shoe-in for the ‘third term’ of the Clinton administration, so to speak.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I’m sorry but Gore screwed that up all by himself. You don’t run for a third term of the Clinton administration and then shove Clinton in a closet for the whole campaign. You don’t campaign as a serious experienced politician and then wheeze and huff into your microphone at a debate like Rush Limbaugh after opening his own pill bottles. Gore lost the election his own damn self and it’s not the games fault he was incompetent, it’s his, and also ours.Report

              • Avatar Barry says:

                To a degree, that’s true. However, the media was almost united on getting Bush into the WH. I remember ’88 (where I voted for Bush I) and 2000 (where I voted for Gore). 1988 was a walk in the park.Report

        • Avatar Cascadian says:

          “The percieved balance that exists in American politics is between the hawkish and the slightly less hawkish”

          American? How do Harper and Iggy differ?Report

      • Avatar JosephFM says:

        Now that I think about it, you’re right about that. I was one of those people who found the country’s unity after 9/11/2001 more terrifying than the attack itself. I felt like everyone had gone insane, for sure.

        Granted, I was seventeen. I probably exaggerated things in my mind.

        Also, being a lifelong Floridian and a Palm Beach County native, I only blame Gore for letting the election get that close.

        It’s just that to me it always seemed like everything was a game to Bush, until he lost. I felt like the whole 2004 campaign was like this, on both sides: trivializing the war. That’s where I thought the Oliver Stone flick, for all its problems, was most dead-on.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Thanks Joseph, I also agree. Anyone who thinks that if Gore had merely, -merely-, let Bubba off the leash in Tennessee along he’d have brought Gore’s home state around and then the entire side show in Florida would have been academic. The man did his own self in. We did too of course but damnit we have paid for it since.Report

    • Avatar Nob Akimoto says:

      Except that’s not true in terms of international politics because it’s still a game to the people arguing in front of parliament, but not to the people with the rifles and the people who are on the receiving end of whatever game result they’re playing.

      The point isn’t that civilized politics isn’t good, or that it’s bad that we’re no longer talking about calling out and shooting someone over an insult on the parliamentary floor, but rather that it’s people who have no discernible ability nor interest in our politics who are forced to pay the price (typically with their lives) for our political gamesmanship.

      There’s few things so thoroughly immoral as making other people die for the sake of your power plays. And it’s about damned time our punditocracy understood there’s real consequences to their little word games.Report

      • Avatar Kyle says:

        Not to be too relativistic here but given 1.) finite resources and 2.) opportunity costs to action and inaction….aren’t all power plays going to affect lives and deaths down the road?

        It seems like we’re being a bit picky in hoisting out the neocons because they’re such obvious targets but couldn’t it be argued that doves from the political left during the cold war advocated policies and attitudes that didn’t save thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives?

        I’m not saying moral glibness is great just that mad rush to the moral high ground that seems to be missing the wider applicability of the principle at hand.

        Not to mention the presumption of political gamesmanship precludes the possibility that these people actually think this would be in nation’s best interests, in which case, it’s an uncomfortably weighted trade-off but no more so than Joe Biden’s let’s just use UAV’s to inaccurately kill people in Waziristan so we don’t have to send more troops strategy. Then again, that could be the political gamesmanship everyone seems to be turning their nose up.Report

        • Avatar JosephFM says:

          Yes, but that just means we need to honestly acknowledge that. Not sweep it under the table and pretend like having sex with an aide is somehow less moral and more important than bombing a country.

          The past few years have left me really bitter, sorry. I should know better though.Report

          • Avatar Kyle says:

            I’m all for honest acknowledgment, count me as someone who felt the Bush Administration was criminally irresponsible on three continents and probably did as much to undermine American security as advance it.

            Surely, it’s possible to make that argument without resorting to insinuations that “those people, the people with whom I disagree” are completely self-serving and immoral whereas “I/we” have a monopoly on ethics, morals, and all that is good in the world.

            Of course, I would’ve voted to acquit Gaius Baltar. So maybe I’m just too sympathetic/sensitive to ganging up on unpopular figures.Report

            • Avatar JosephFM says:

              No, my attitude at this point is more “some of the people I disagree with are self-serving and immoral, and some of the people I agree with are also self-serving and immoral.” My problem – and I suppose, my misunderstanding of what was meant by “politics as a game” – is we tend to just keep yelling about it over small stuff, and acting as if everything in politics is equally important, when obviously some issues matter more than others, and involve higher stakes, even if we disagree on them.

              I suppose I’m just echoing Freddie’s frustration with our “trivial culture”, and feeling like I’m not totally sure that being trivial is really all that morally superior to being barbarous, or in some cases even that different.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Joe, I agree with you but for a more optimistic take, please look at how the examples you cite were -really- treated by the game. The Republicans were tarred as unserious for their obsession with Clinton’s excapades and they suffered. Yes they’ve had a long run with their shenanigans but look at them now if you can even see their electoral fortunes through all the smoke. There is justice in the world.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “It seems like we’re being a bit picky in hoisting out the neocons because they’re such obvious targets but couldn’t it be argued that doves from the political left during the cold war advocated policies and attitudes that didn’t save thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives? ”

          Like *not* having a pre-emptive nuclear war?Report

    • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

      Hear, hear, dude, You are absolutely correct on this one!Report

    • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

      Hear, hear, dude, You are absolutely correct on this one!
      Dude: “Indeed, the same goes for a whole host of critical issues. When a group of overly-parochial, self-interested politicians work together to block climate change legislation, they are lauded by most in the news media as courageous moderates. But in reality, it might be more accurate to describe them as borderline sociopaths. After all, their actions – or lack thereof – will directly contribute to the preventable deaths of tens of millions of people who had the misfortune of A) being born deeply impoverished and B) living near the coast. ”
      You people have butchered 40-50 million babies since Roe v Wade and your whining about an imaginary problem? I’ll pray for you!Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Aww come on Bob, that’s harsh. They could just as easily say they’re safeguarding the lives of 40-50 million real women at the cost of the same number of imaginary babies.Report

        • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

          I love ya, dude, but when our culture/society participates, encourages, and legitimizes the slaughter of the innocents; when human life is no more than tissue, the parties over! The problem with you kids, the spawn of the Enlightenment (and, sadly my generation is included, and yes, we have failed you), is that you/we have derailed into a process of immanentization. And, as a result of this generation’s egophanic revolt is alienation and anxiety. Bob Dylan caught it in the line, “…it’s an empty hungry feelin’ that don’t mean no one no good…” among other places.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I don’t want to hijack the thread Bob but I have to apologize, I cannot agree with you on this point. There has been no change in us as a species since the Enlightenment. Women have been trying to slay the unwanted devil in their bellies on some occasions for as long as we have history. The only difference in modern times is that they found a way to do it without killing themselves in the process. If there’s merit to be found in full-throated opposition to abortion (and I’m nowhere near smart or read enough to say for sure) than it exists only when pursued in a non-coercive manner. The moment you bring the coercive force of the law to bear against it you save not a damn single imaginary baby. You simply kill the woman either physically via the coat hanger in the back alley or spiritually via the fact that she no longer controls her own body. I can respect the intellectual and moral positions of the anti-abortion faction but as long as they try to impose their will by force upon my aunts, sisters and nieces I will fight them on the beaches, fight them on the landing grounds and in the fields and cities and streets.Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

              North, you’re defense of the woman is noble, indeed chivalrous, however, my first concern is with the concept of the ‘sanctity of life,’ e.g. that each human being is known by the Creator, before his/her birth and in the great and wonderful ‘drama of humanity’ we each play a role.
              But, I acknowledge that these ideas are passe. Your generation speaks of ‘rights,’ and the individual, and constantly seeks pleasure in the material and immanent. I’m afraid my generation is in large measure responsible for this and I apologize for it. Your generation (and mine) will carry the stench of death, just as we are consumed in ‘anxietas’ to such a degree that we can not determine the rational order of existence and reject reason (aspernatio rationis) because we don’t know any better.
              And, North, you never owe me an apology.Report

              • Avatar Cascadian says:

                If it were killing grown kids to prove devotion to God (Isaac) it would be a different matter, or sacrificing one’s own. How many kids does “God” let die every year from other causes? This seems a very strange hobby horse to perch upon.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Isaac isn’t the best example, given the whole “he didn’t actually end up being killed” thing.

                I’d run with Leviticus 20:9, instead.Report

              • Avatar Cascadian says:

                We could throw in Job’s first family for good measure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                He got a second one.Report

              • Avatar Cascadian says:

                and a pat on the back from God. Should more than compensate.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

                “Abe said, “God where do you want this killin’ done,”
                God said, “Out on Highway 61”
                Hey, you guys is just way too smart!Report

              • Avatar Bo says:

                Why didn’t God just resurrect the first family? Imagine if you came home someday to a note from God saying, “I took your wife but left you a new one. PS You now have 4 kids instead of 2.” It’s precisely that kind of moral glibness that gets God a bad rap.Report

      • Avatar JosephFM says:

        But wait, that means you want to treat the murder of babies like a game?Report

  5. Avatar Katherine says:

    Well said, Jamelle! You’re sounding reminiscent of Glenn Greenwald here.

    The way the media filters and frames political discourse is truly ridiculous. You’re right, any advocacy of war is treated automatically as responsible or, at least, as worthy of consideration – whereas discounting war in any circumstance automatically puts you outside of the “mainstream”. It’s responsible to advocate for the use of torture; it’s radical to remind people that it was against American law as well as international conventions. It’s mainstream to condemn “cuts” to the military budget that end up with the military budget increasing; it’s madness to suggest that the US doesn’t need a military budget almost as large as that of the rest of the world combined. It’s responsible to parrot lobbyists at the expense of facts and discourteous to point out when other people are doing it.

    It’s not hard to understand Hitchens. He has one central motivation: hatred of religion. He was on the left during the Cold War, because most communists were atheists. He’s an unfettered hawk now, because the enemy are religious.Report

  6. Avatar Roberto says:

    I was with you until you called people who are skeptical of the science behind AGW “borderline psychopaths.” Then I sighed and cursed the times I live in. Again.Report

    • Avatar Jamelle says:

      Correction, I called them borderline “sociopaths.” There’s a difference.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Not enough of one to matter.Report

        • Avatar Jamelle says:

          Here’s one of those points where I’m going to be intemperate about my disagreement, because I think it’s worth being intemperate about. There is a fair chance that global climate change will cause catastrophic damage to poor coastal nations. Ignoring that in favor of parochial interests is morally reprehensible and yes, borderline sociopathic. Notice how this doesn’t include everyone who is skeptical of the science (though, admittedly, that might be a distinction without a difference).Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Bob Cheeks, up above, gives an interesting perspective shift on this one.

            Would it be fair to say that people who are pro-choice are borderline sociopathic? Truly, they don’t seem to care about the wholesale slaughter of infants!

            Is it possible that they are making a legit mistake when it comes to judging whether a thing is a Matter of Taste or a Matter of Morality?

            Or are they merely weighing different things differently?

            Could the assumption that people who weigh different things differently than you have psychological problems count as “moral glibness”? Is moral glibness a problem that only people with psychological problems tend to have?Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

              Brilliant JB and also Jamelle in the sociopathic observation though being a good Voegelinian I’d use the term psychopathological e.g. a mental disease, a term Voegelin got, I think from Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations. We might, in the spirit of good scholarship, also utilize the term pneumopathological e.g. a ‘spiritual’ disease, which is a term he got from the German Idealist, Herr Schelling.
              However, what were talking about, in this instance abortion, is the wholesale, systematic slaughter of innocent human life. I mean, dudes, come on, here! You gotta be truly sick, either in mind or soul, to be a willing participant in destroying your own flesh and blood! Simply put, “It ain’t human!” Are we so dead to pneumatic differentiation, to the awakening of the soul to the experience of the pull (helkein) in the tension of existence toward the pole of transcendent perfection?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You may want to “whoa” there, a hair.

                I am one of those libertines who believes in a “Right To Privacy” which would cover such things as “ain’t nobody’s business, let alone the gummint’s, what goes on in a doctor’s office” which would have the effective end of me supporting the wholesale slaughter of millions of babies.

                My sociopathic nature has been, I believe, established.

                I am just once again noticing how it’s not enough for the other side to merely be wrong. They have to be crazy. They have to be evil.

                It makes me wonder if, 300 years ago, we’d see posts explaining how “those people” were probably consorting with witches (even if they weren’t witches themselves) and 2000 years ago we’d read posts about how they were possessed by demons though, to be fair, whether they were possessed because they were the types of people to enter into contracts with demons or if they were merely too weak to stand up to demons would be a point left up in the air.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

                Well, JB, it was the movement I noticed, and then there’s the very real participation in the dialectic. So we’ll see…..Report

          • Avatar Dave says:


            What I am trying to figure out here is where you draw the line between what is and is not legitimate opposition to legislation. You consider it borderline sociopathic to “ignore” a possible disaster scenario in the future. I wouldn’t consider my opposition to cap and trade as based on ignorance of the problem, but more a function of the possible negative economic impact as well as being skeptical that the U.S. can address this without having the other major producers of CO2 emissions onboard (i.e. BRIC nations). Would politicians who represent people that could be negatively impacted by this not have a good faith reason to oppose the bill?

            I’m no fan of politicians by any means but I want to try to dig deeper into this discussion.Report

      • Avatar Roberto says:

        With all due respect it’s hard to imagine a person with antisocial personality disorder being elected to anything. A “psychopath” in office, on the other hand, is easy to imagine: superficially charming and utterly without scruples.
        In any case, my point is not the DSM-IV — it’s your equation of skepticism about what is, after all, a scientific position, with a personality disorder. What if the person has good reason to doubt the catastrophic scenario you say justifies your intemperance. Calling them borderline anything is a heuristic, not an argument — it’s a way of justifying not paying attention or dismssing their arguments out of hand.
        For instance, a just-published study of global satellite data from the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement found “a statistically significant cooling trend for the past 12 to 13 years, with it not being possible to reject a flat trend . . . for between 16 and 23 years.” This is “clearly inconsistent with climate model predictions because it begins too soon (before greenhouse gases were elevated) and does not accelerate as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate. This model and the empirical evidence for recent cooling thus provide a challenge to
        climate model accuracy.”
        Now, this study and its conclusions, which are peer-reviewed, may be challenged and undermined. But is it “borderline sociopathic” to wonder if spending a lot of money to correct what may not be happening is a good idea?Report

  7. Avatar Murali says:

    Jamelle, 45000 are going to die in a year from no insurance? In a country of 300 million, that is in the order of 1 in 10 000, which suddenly ceases to be a number about which I feel the need to do anything about. Or more precisely, the number may be bad, (about 1 person dying every day in singapore) but not that (incipient humanitarian crisis) bad. Given that there are always going to be cracks people are going to fall through, the distance between 1 in 10000 and an acceptable ratio is rather small.

    Jamelle,what is a realistic fraction of people slipping through the cracks that would be acceptable to you? (Note the emphasis on realistic. Saying 0 wont get you any points. Also, it would be fair to ask if you honestly believe that any policy on the table now could put a significant dent on these numbers.)Report