Centrism and the GOP

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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Dale Forguson
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    I am currently reading a 3 part biography of T. Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. It is remarkable how frequently the issues of 100 years ago are still relevant today. On questions of Foreign Policy, Political factions, the influence of corporations on policy, racial issues, social injustice, and climate just to mention a few the arguments have a very familiar ring. They could have been drawn from today’s headlines. I think this bears out how slowly political institutions change, and how slowly the “center” of a society moves. While some of the issues are better now than they were then others are seemingly unchanged or at least the underlying forces are still as potent now.Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer
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    says:

    Is this simply trying to revive that old species known as the Rockefeller Republican?

    I’m cynical that this will work just like it did not work when people tried to do a similar tactic for the Republican Party.

    As for Climate Change, just because the public is in doubt does not mean they are right. There is a lot of bad science and misinformation out there plus a lot of people are concerned about how policy solutions will impact their way of life. The same is true for a lot of scientific issues.Report

    • Avatar Dale Forguson in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      Being somewhat fiscally conservative while being socially somewhat liberal (positions which I find to be difficult to homogenize at times) I find that neither party really represents my interests well. I have never voted a straight party ticket. I think that many in the middle class find more moderate, fiscally responsible views to be attractive. I think the modern party primary system does a fairly good job of obfuscating the candidates position on issues. The art of being all things to all people as practiced by campaign spin doctors makes voting responsibly a bit of detective work. Unfortunately the mass media are of little help.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        I think you’re on to something here.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        Probably. But I generally avoid terms like “fiscal conservative” because they are potentially good short hand but I think are largely meaningless.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        Starting two wars and paying for them by maxing out the credit cards is fiscally conservative, right?Report

      • Avatar Dale Forguson in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        I haven’t defended the actions of anyone in office or aligned myself with any particular point of view. When I say fiscally conservative I mean things like balancing the budget (let’s try having a budget). Not providing corporate welfare to the international banking system because they were reckless and still are. Where were the regulators when the bankers were cooking up their toxic brew back in ’07 and ’08? Not pumping in money to drive the latest round of profits in the market while main street remains in a recessionary stalemate. Pouring thousands of lives and billions of dollars into wars that have no meaningful objective that is within reach. And also making promises to provide benefits that are not sustainable simply because no one has the political courage to speak the truth.

        Yes I believe that we as a society need to provide a meaningful safety net and an effective means for people to become able to support themselves while they continue to receive support. On the other hand I haven’t signed on to adopt anyone, or to provide them and their descendants with life-long support except in cases of debility. I have no problem with drug tests for benefits.

        Before you ask me about federalized health care can I ask you why tort reform was considered untouchable, sacred, right from the beginning of the process? Can you show me any program that the Federal Government has ever operated in a more efficient manner than regulated private enterprise could have done?

        Climate change is a real concern regardless of the cause and regardless of the projected range of possible near term change. It is still incumbent on us to consider the impact on our future and try to minimize the potential detrimental effects. Doing things to make US producers non-competitive in world markets accomplishes nothing. It will simply shift manufacturing elsewhere without abating the cause. it would also largely destroy our standard of living and diminish our ability to have meaningful input in the solution to the problem.

        I’m very untrustful of the Carte Blanche recently given to Monsanto regarding GM food. I have no faith in Monsanto or any other corporation to put public safety ahead of profit except where heavy fines and or jail time are a real possible outcome.

        Those being more specific positions I can probably count on argument on at least one issue from just about anyone here. But at least I’m being more specific than “fiscally conservative”.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        After Reagan and Dubya, the ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal’ party is the Democratic Party; the GOP hasn’t been fiscally conservative for thirty years now.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        Can you show me any program that the Federal Government has ever operated in a more efficient manner than regulated private enterprise could have done?

        Medicare

        or any of the dozens of federal grants programs that put funds into state universities, local governments, and state agencies on shoe string budgets.

        Or the FBI

        Or the Social Security Administration

        Or, sadly, the NSA and CIA

        Government isn’t’ SUPPOSED to be efficient – it’s supposed to be effective at delivering the services Congress authorizes.Take NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) – NOAA has 92 federal statutes telling it what to do. Two of those are to forecast the weather (National Weather Service), and regulate US commercial fishing outside the 3 mile limit. Neither of those are things the private sector has any interest in doing (The Weather Channel gets its data and models form NWS); both need to be done.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        Dale,
        Accuweather versus NWS.
        Easy, ain’t it?Report

      • Avatar Dale Forguson in reply to Dale Forguson
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        says:

        Can you show me any program that the Federal Government has ever operated in a more efficient manner than regulated private enterprise could have done?

        This is the only statement I made that anyone has chosen to take issue with? Really?

        I don’t dispute that some things can only be done by government, and that some things have been done well by government. I don’t dispute that there are things that need to be done that private enterprise has had no interest in. Those positions are not relevant to the comment I made. The entire thrust of health care reform has been to make it affordable and accessible for everyone, in other words provide health care equitably and efficiently. Without getting into a debate about whether the Affordable Health Care act will accomplish that I do submit that the comment I made about efficiency is relevant to this particular issue. I further suggest that with meaningful tort reform, more competitive markets for insurers, and a few regulations barring practices such as refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions a much more affordable, equitable, and efficient private program could have been implemented. Unfortunately the trial attorney lobby was very effective at protecting their turf.

        I made an unfair comment above about the causes of the housing implosion and resultant recession of the last few years. I’m actually surprised that no one called me to task over it. In reality I believe that the repeal of the Glass-Stegal act created the opportunity for banks to get into the derivatives market. Fanny Mae and Freddie Mack pushed lenders to make real estate loans they knew were toxic and they unloaded them using the derivatives market. Home owners (borrowers) thought they had magically turned into real estate speculators. As usually happens the nubes got caught holding the bag when the market tanked and the Federal regulators who should have stopped it from happening were politically motivated to keep the bull market running instead. I remember back in the sixties when lenders were lending 120% of the market value on homes with nothing down. People were signing notes they couldn’t afford and using the extra cash to buy furniture. The longer a bull market is artificially extended the worse the correction will be. Welcome to reality there’s plenty of blame for everyone.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      Rockefeller is a Democrat. Thankfully he’s not running again, so perhaps a Republican can replace him.

      A lot of the coal mined from his state is now being shipped overseas. Liquefied Natural Gas tankers are hideously expensive, whereas coal can be shipped in glorified oceangoing garbage barges.Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      As for Climate Change, just because the public is in doubt does not mean they are right. There is a lot of bad science and misinformation out there plus a lot of people are concerned about how policy solutions will impact their way of life. The same is true for a lot of scientific issues.

      The issue for me, and I think Mike touched on this, is not so much “what the science says.” It’s “what’s the policy implications are.” And I don’t think it’s necessarily true that once we establish that global warming is real, is harmful, and is anthropogenic, we know what to do about it politically. The policy issue is at least as much about who is going to give up what and who ought to have the power to make that determination. Therefore, I’m sympathetic to people who are suspicious of the policy claims made in the name of curbing global warming.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        There’s at least some degree to which the policy implications of global warming are determined by science, however. For instance, the scale of the problem–how much warming we’re going to get, and what the impacts of that warming will be–is a scientifically answerable question. If the scale is small, then “do nothing” may be a viable option; on the other hand, if the scale is “civilization-ending”, then the suite of policies entailed in “do nothing” (or worse, “subsidize fossil fuel use”) has been ruled out by science.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        says:

        I think common sense rules out “civilization ending”.

        There are a hundred US cities whose average temperature only ranges from 38F to 49F, and 100 cities whose average temperature ranges from 69F to 78F.

        The two hottest cities, Phoenix and Miami, are the most popular, with Phoenix commonly seeing highs above 100F for 100 days a year and above 110F for about 20 days a year.

        Elsewhere, Bangkok Thailand’s average temperature is in the mid-80’s, with average highs in the 90’s, and Kuala Lampur’s average is in the 90’s every month with nearly constant 80 percent humidity. Meanwhile, Moscow’s average temperature is just above freezing.

        Civilization seems to do fine across a 60F average temperature range, while the IPCC AR5 report is due to knock the estimated temperature rise by the year 2100 down to about 4 or 5F, which is like moving to Miami from Orlando or Tampa.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        says:

        George,
        It doesn’t take much to push us into a negative sum game.
        One nuclear war would be good to end a few civilizations,
        it’s not just Persia, ya know?Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        says:

        That was strictly hypothetical–I’m not looking into getting into a debate about humanity’s relative capacity to adapt to climate change, merely noting that if Venus were on the table, it would rule out certain policy responses, contra Pierre.Report

      • Dan Miller,

        Point very well taken, and I should’ve conceded something of the sort in my comment, the main purpose of which was to push back at what I consider the condescending attitude that the the only reason people oppose anti-AGW policies is because of anti-science and a belief in “Jeebus” (New Dealer didn’t do the Jeebus-baiting, but I’ve known people who have as an explanation for why people oppose anti-AGW policies).

        I will say that if we are facing the end of civilization, then the policies obviously no longer on the table are probably not going to play a large role in allaying the catastrophe. But as I said, you’re point is well taken.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    The whole “Fiscally Conservative, Socially Shrug-None Of My Business” position is one that makes sense to me but I was struck by 2002-2006 and how unpopular my position was among Conservatives (well, Redstate, anyway (full disclosure: banned)).

    Looking at the Republican field today, it seems to me that the guys who would be able to start on day one and keep running, smiling, hooting, hollering, and RAISING MONEY until the convention consist of:

    Huckabee.
    (and I tremble writing this) Jeb.

    I don’t see Rand Paul going the distance. I don’t see Christie going the distance.

    I see “Fiscally Compassionate, Socially Conservative” hitting it out of the park.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      You forgot to include Reagan’s mouldering corpse in your list of convention finish-line crossers. They’ll prop his dead ass up on a throne and he’ll be nominated and sweep to victory by acclamation.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Why not Christie?

      Or was the claim that you don’t see Christie going the distance some kind of very subtle (yet offensive, if that was your point, IMO), obesity joke?

      Christie has a lot of charisma on the stump and in Interviews. (Even I start to like him.) He has a tough guy, everyman aura that will play well with southern men that he will need for the nomination. (And he would walk the northeast and west coast) The pundits (and early polls) will call him the most electable, which -as we saw with Romney- is helpful in winning the nomination. He is smart, charismatic, and aggressive enough (like Huckabee) to be impressive in the debates (unlike Perry or Tim whatshisname, say).

      He isn’t a doofus like Perry or Fred Thompson. He isn’t an unpresidential-seeming eccentric like Ron Paul, Giuliani, or Gingrich. (Plenty of D examples here too, but we are talking R’s.)

      And as Romney and McCain have shown, you can overcome the base’s worry that you aren’t conservative enough. And Christie starts off as more conservative than either of those guys did.

      I’d say he wins the nomination fairly easily, but who knows, maybe Republican-Obama is waiting to take the primary by storm.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot3
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        says:

        Please. If I were going to mention Christie’s obesity, it would be in glowing terms. In any case, he’s had his stomach stapled. He’ll be one of you people soon enough.

        He has a tough guy, everyman aura that will play well with southern men that he will need for the nomination.

        That’s one way to look at it, sure. I more see it that they’ll go down the ballot and vote for someone less citified… there will be no shortage of these folks on the ballot.

        I don’t see the money getting behind Christie, I don’t see the Socons getting behind Christie. If Christie is part of the ticket, he’ll be the Veep, and that will be in an attempt to shore up support that was lost because, tah-dah, a big-money, compassionate conservative got the nod.Report

      • Avatar Herb in reply to Shazbot3
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        says:

        I voted for Gore, Kerry, and Obama twice.

        And if Christie ran, I’d vote for him over Hillary or Biden in a heartbeat.

        And that’s why Christie will not win the GOP nomination: Liberals like him.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Even Huckabee endorses the regressive and unfair flat tax. I wouldn’t call him “fiscally compassionate”, he just puts a slightly homier spin on the inevitable GOP servicing of the wealthy.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    Sound like a Democratic platform speech to me. Why not just become a Democrat?Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      Exactly. The Democratic Party is a centrist party. There are elements of left-wingers (Barbara Lee, etc.), center-left (Boxer, et al), neoliberals (most in office) and center-right corporate populists (the remaining Southern Senator’s, but on the whole, the Democratic Party is largely in the center of the nation and if we did election where you put in your policy preferences and your vote was automatically made for you, the DNC would likely win 40-state landslides.Report

  5. Avatar Shazbot3
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    says:

    Most of this is empty rhetoric that could be said by either Romney or Obama (though Obama would have to tone down the rhetoric on unions, maybe by substituting the phrase “special interests.”)

    Some specifics:

    Is this party pro-life or pro-choice?

    Do they believe in increasing the tax burden on the weathy in the long run to pay for increased social sending (for welfare and the creation of equality of opportunity) or not?

    Would they elect Justices like Scalia and Alito?

    Do they believe in stimulus spending as a helpful way out of economic predicaments like the current one?

    Would they say that the Iraq war a good idea of the sort that could possible be a good idea again in another country, if we “did it right this time?”

    Is climate change a real and pressing threat that needs to be addressed with something like cap and trade that may have small negative impacts on the economy in the short run?

    Should immigration reform include a pathway to citizenship, a.k.a. amnesty? And automatic citizenship for the dreamers?Report

  6. Avatar Shazbot3
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    says:

    “fix our broken two-party system.”

    I’d also like to take issue with this characterization of our problems. The parties aren’t broken. They are doing exactly what they should: working to maintain as many votes as possible and push or block legislation in a manner that helps them politically.

    The problem is our system of government, which is not well adapted to the modern world. It is legal for a small minority to capture a choke point for legislation (like a third of the senate, or a narrow majority in the house, with the help of undemocratic redistricting) and to stop the will of even a large majority. (The system used to work a bit better with the grease of a kind of corruption found in ear marks and buy offs, and insider friendships in DC, but that grease had toxic effects too.)

    And please don’t say that it has worked well until now. I present into evidence the failure of the U.S. to cate a health insurance or healthcare system that works at all efficiently or morally for so many decades that it is a joke. Immigration too.

    Change the system of government to be more like a parliament and you solve all of the problems. We elect a group to do X, Y, and Z and they do it. Don’t elect a group with differing views to get together and expect compromise, even when compromise isn’t in their interests.Report

  7. Avatar Michelle
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    While I agree in part with what you’ve written, Mike, I think you missed another big issue–foreign policy. As long as the Republicans insist on clinging to neo-con dogma on foreign policy they’re going to leverage younger and more moderate voters who aren’t willing to foot the bill for another prolonged and pricey conflict in the Middle East. A more moderate Republican Party would be one that got back to the pragmatism of Reagan. For all they prop up Reagan’s body each election cycle, modern Republicans lack his flexibility and his willingness to cut losses (and raise taxes).

    Besides, we already have a center-right party in this country. They’re called Democrats.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michelle
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      My issue with foreign policy in the States is that it often seems that a lot of people can’t tell that there are options between isolationism/America Firstism and full-on military interventionism. Well at least on the right, the Democratic Party has more nuance usually.

      Still a lot of my friends on the left are so burnt because of the neo-cons that they find isolationism attractive.

      I firmly believe that it is important for the United States to have an active but non-militaristic foreign policy. This seems to make me an odd duck.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        I’m actually with you. I even think, gasp, there was a way to do the Iraq War correctly. I don’t think the percentages were high enough to actually go that way, but I don’t think the Iraq War was an automatic failure. Then again, I also think we can have a liberal internationalist foreign policy _and_ a much smaller defense budget.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        The Iraq War was destined to be a failure, no matter how anyone sliced it. The only possible winner was Iran. Removing Saddam, no matter how anyone managed it, would have inevitably uncorked the civil war which followed.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to NewDealer
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        New Dealer:

        In your comments at OT, you frequently compare present-day isolationism in the U.S. to America Firstism, the isolationist movement (and meme) in the late 1930s/early 1940s that among other things urged the U.S. to stay our of European affairs while Hitler and Mussolini were doing their thing.

        I’ll put my cards on the table and say I don’t find that analogy to be very apt at all.

        But I have a question, and it’s an honest one (and I promise not to jump on you for giving an answer, if you choose to do so): why do you use the term?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        … espionage then?Report

      • Avatar b-psycho in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        “active but non-militaristic”? No offense meant, but I don’t see how that is even possible.

        The idea that the U.S. has some responsibility to intervene in the rest of the world flows from an assumption of superiority in the form of “American exceptionalism”. I have yet to see anything resembling anti-militarism from those who adhere to exceptionalism.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michelle
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      says:

      A return to Kissingerian “Realism”?Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain
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    With climate change the Left has accepted this as gospel but there is much less certainty among the general public.

    That this is so is disturbing. Because among actual climate scientists (not scientists from other fields now claiming to be climate specialists), there’s an overwhelming consensus that the climate is warming and human-released CO2 is a significant contributor. The debate among the specialists is about how much things will change, ranging from relatively modest inconveniences to Venus-like runaway heating. Given that, there’s lots of policy positions one can consider, ranging from massive overhaul of the economy (power and transportation sectors in particular) to consciously sticking one’s head in the sand by saying, “The engineers will eventually think of something, but it’s not government’s place to say what or when.”Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain
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      says:

      The new consensus is that the old consensus was probably very wrong. Danish papers are back to warning readers about the imminent threat of slipping back into a little ice age within a few years.

      Venus-like runaway heating isn’t possible on our planet because we have a thin, transparent atmosphere, and frankly, the greenhouse effect might play little role on Venus because almost no sunlight reaches the surface. Venus is possibly an example of simple adiabatic heating with a non-transparent atmosphere, where the high cloud region is in radiative equilibrium, setting the temperatures at some high pressure-altitude (probably 60 or 70 km up) with temperatures at other altitudes then determined by the lapse rate. When Carl Sagan first tried to calculate the surface temperature of Venus, his estimate for a pure nitrogen atmosphere was hundreds of degrees hotter than for a pure CO2 atmosphere, simply because nitrogen has a higher lapse rate (temperature goes up more quickly with decreasing altitude). The same effect creates extremely high atmospheric temperatures on Jupiter and Saturn, which receive very little sunlight.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to George Turner
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        The new consensus is that the old consensus was probably very wrong.

        Show me the list of dozens or hundreds of peer-reviewed papers representing a “new” consensus and maybe I’ll buy that. I’m old enough to remember the global cooling theories from the 70s that said the sun must be going to cool because we couldn’t find the neutrinos from its core that should have been there; experimental error, the neutrinos were there all the time. Actually, I’m inclined to anticipate another “Little Ice Age” for northern Europe at some point — after the North Atlantic Current gets screwed up by increased fresh water flows off of Greenland…Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        A slew of new, peer-reviewed papers of the last few years have been ruling out the upper range of the IPCC climate sensitivity estimates, and in response the IPCC is having to cut their “most likely” value almost in half just as a partial acknowledgement of reality. Unfortunately most of AR5 was written before this took place, and apparently the behind-the-scenes editing problem is trying to rectify the lower climate sensitivity supported by science with the the raft of doomsday warnings elsewhere in the report.

        The little ice-age may be here sooner than you think. This year saw the coldest average arctic temperature’s on record, with the area above 80N peeking above freezing for only about 45 days instead of the always reliable ninety to a hundred. Despite the loss of multi-year ice in 2011 and 2012, the current ice pack is getting near normal, which is a shockingly fast recovery for just one year. On the other side of the planet, this year the Antarctic ice pack has the greatest extent ever recorded.

        Another Danish study published this year showed a very strong correlation between proxies for arctic ice extent and solar cycle length that holds for the past four-hundred years, and another recent paper links Antarctic ice to the fluctuations of the ozone hole, a natural phenomenon caused by an interaction of UV with extremely cold air masses.

        This all implies that the poles may be strongly influenced by the influx of UV and the charged particles streaming down to form the auroras, perhaps changing atmospheric circulation patterns.

        Oddly enough, the thing we’re best at measuring and recording to extreme accuracy is time, and as astronomer’s know, the Earth’s day length varies with solar cycles (I wrote a computer program to find the best prime-numbered tooth gear sets for a sidereal clock drive, pushing out to sub-microsecond errors over a century, and then found out that my gear set was more accurate than the planet.) What happens is that changes in the arctic air-circulation patterns, and changes in the tropical to polar air currents, forces a change in the Earth’s physical rotation speed to obey conservation of angular momentum. It’s all quite interesting.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Look, we know what we’re putting into the atmosphere is changing the gas fractions. These are changing ocean acidity. Forget global warming or little ice ages or the manifestations of climate change for just a moment: the oceans are acidifying, absorbing the CO2 we’re pumping into the atmosphere. There is no denying that fact. It’s already screwing up calcification in reefs and crustaceans and bivalves.

        George, you’re a bright guy. Just don’t let’s play games with what’s happening. It’s very bad. You can argue with any of these organisations but you’re not going to argue with a pH strip.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        The ocean is not acidifying, it’s neutralizing. Currently the pH is over 8, which can be hard on hard on marine life, directly attacking fish’s mucus coating. It used to be 8.1, which is even worse. Under the IPCC AR4 scenario the ocean pH was projected to decrease by 0.14 to 0.35 pH by the year 2100. And of course marine life thrives when the pH values are much lower, as evidence in the geologic record of climate optimums which show both extremely high atmospheric CO2 and an abundance of marine fossils.

        This 2011 study did something all too rare in modern environmental science: It went out and took actual measurements of the environment.

        As it turns out (quite unexpectedly because nobody’s been doing much science, just harping about the global apocalypse due to mankind’s sins) actual ocean pH is all over the map, both spatially and temporally, bouncing from 7.4 to 8.4 just in the one study’s limited observations.

        After that paper, serious scientific complaints about ocean pH pretty much died.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        What do we call a change from 8.25 to 8.14 pH, George? A trend toward acidification is what I call it. It is screwing with carbonate uptake in everything in the ocean. You are sadly mistaken: the last time the ocean pH changed this much, the planet lost 90% of its ocean species and 75% of its land species. It’s called the End-Permian Extinction.

        You just graduated from Concerned Citizen who knows quite a bit about nuclear reactors — to roaring kook, in one comment. Life will flourish in the sea all right, slime.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        So how did a change in ocean pH kill off 75% of the land species? Did they somehow die while vacationing at the beach?

        The CO2 levels have only been almost as low as modern times during the Permian. Maybe the high ocean pH and low CO2 is what killed everything. Up until the Permian, when all the modern sea life was evolving, the CO2 levels were kicking well over 2,000 ppm, which means the oceans were far more acidic. That’s what ocean life evolved to deal with. During the glaciations, the ocean pH kicks up to 8.3 or 8.4, and marine life doesn’t do so well. During the Cenozoic the ocean pH was about 7.6, and when it was 7.4 marine life and reefs were thriving more than today, based on how far from the tropics coral reefs were found.

        So if the ocean pH swings from 7.4 to 8.4 on all time scales, and still does on a daily and monthly basis, the shift of 0.14 pH per century is not a worry.

        The difference is between knowing and speculating with a religious fervor about mankind’s sins and the evil punishments that overindulgence must bring, a feeling that’s almost inevitable because of our primate evolution.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        George,
        No one in the sciences who deal with climate, oceanography, ecology, atmospheric chemistry, meteorology, hydrology, or related disciplines has any doubts that 1) global temperatures are rising FASTER then they would have under ONLY natural conditions; 2) that more steep curve is directly caused by increased emissions of carbon to the atmosphere through human activities; 3) that carbon eventually settles into the oceans where it is steadily creating a more acidic environment which is killing species at a measurable rate; 4) that the temperature increases of the last 40 years may no longer be reversible even with significant changes in human economic activities, and 5) that denying the existence of significant human impacts on global temperature and climate trends because you don’t like the political or policy changes that need to be made is folly of the highest order.

        That aside, what galls me about the Republican approach is they keep hawking their support for business and markets – well if markets are the end all and be all of humane economic endeavors then markets should be allowed to come up with solutions to these challenges. But here in the US we can’t discuss that approach because it MIGHT involve collaborating with government or – perish the thought – commercializing approaches that government scientists have already come up with.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        1) That’s an assumption without a control set.

        Temperature’s have risen faster than the latest rise under natural conditions, even as shown in the IPCC’s AR4 report where the slope from 1860 to 1870 was much steeper, as was even the slope from 1860 to 1880. The slope from 1910 to 1940 was about equal to the slope from 1980 to 2005. In the US dataset, the biggest jump was from around 1916 to 1922.

        2) So what caused the even steeper curves during the periods when they’ve ruled out an influence from CO2?

        3) If the rate of marine species extinctions has been measured, the number would be virtually zero, since the last marine species declared extinct was a bivalve that had been missing for sixty or so years. In fact, no fish are known to have gone extinct in historical times (the past 400 years), and only four gastropods in total. They are two limpets, a periwinkle, and a horn snail, last seen in 1861, 1929, 1840, and 1935, respectively. The big extinction spike in marine mammals and birds was 1844 to 1913.

        4) Solar scientists are saying the temperature increase of the last 40 years is in for a major reverse, and the lack of temperature increases for the past 17 years is causing ongoing and significant re-evaluations of the temperature sensitivity estimates.

        5) How the political and policy changes needed to fight global warming are exactly the same ones needed to fight global cooling? Isn’t that folly?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        George- Why must you mix reasonable sounding questions in with pure tripe like #5. There was never the evidence or concern about GC that there is for GW. Never. Most of the fluff about GC comes from pop sci magazine covers and minimal research. Talking about GC is a always a great signal someone is just throwing out talking points from an AGW denier website to see what sticks.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Greg,

        The worries about global cooling were quite real, as were the suggested and drastic policy solutions. Warmists desperately try to throw that period down the memory hole and claim it’s all hype, but we have the Internets now, and such things just can’t be hidden, which is how I re-waded through all the period’s alarmist stories about the threat of a coming ice age or severe crop damage from drastically reduced temperatures due to sulfate emissions. We were told we’d have to quit burning coal and oil and rapidly shift to wind and solar.

        In the immediate aftermath of the temperature rebound, the story was dropped and scientists came up with “nuclear winter”, which they milked for several years. That was undone during the Gulf War when their computer models of drastic Middle East cooling from Saddam’s oil fires, based on their nuclear winter code, didn’t pan out at all.

        This happens frequently in the climate alarmist community. Not that long ago the newly invented threat was global tipping points and sudden climate change, suggesting that the Earth could re-enter an ice age in just a year or two as freezing wind swept down from the arctic in the aftermath of a shutdown of the global thermo-haline ocean circulation. Even the Pentagon was touting it as the major threat to US security. Then that nonsense was thrown down the memory hole, too.

        Never content to rest, they next predicted that snow would be a thing of the past, and the cry grew so insistent that ski lodges contemplated legal action. Then we started shattering records for Northern Hemisphere snow extent and the new claim was the global warming causes extreme snow.

        Ocean acidification will follow the same path. The ocean’s pH range has usually stayed far lower. It’s at such high levels because we’ve slipped into an ice-age at the end of the Cenozoic and have been stuck with repeated glaciations ever since. Check out any site on maintaining marine aquariums and they’ll advise you to keep the tank pH in the range of 7.8 to 8.4 for ideal coral growth. Oddly, one of the major users of elaborate CO2 injector systems is high-end marine aquariums where the idea is to make a thriving showcase.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        So many words, so much bs. No George, global cooling was never ever supported by the evidence AGW has been or been such a concern. You’re just making stuff up. I’m guessing you are also referring to that paragon of scientific sciency science. The Day After Tomorrow. Now that is a real argument not just a laugble silly attempt to suggest a crappy sci fi movie represents something. Pro tip: Iron Man isn’t based on actual real science and tech. Yeah i remember the NW concerns. Evidence didn’t support the theory so it was dropped. That is, you know, how sporking science works. If the AGW deniers spent more time on research and improving climate science instead of conspiracy theories, looking at 70’s sci mags and spreadng failing talking points we would all benefit.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        The evidence for global cooling was incontrovertible. Temperatures were dropping, and mankind was polluting. From the early 1950’s (or from the early 1930’s) to the early 1970’s the US temperature fell almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit (oeak-to-peak, unsmoothed).

        In 1971 Science published this article on the role of CO2 and aerosols. The abstract says “An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.”

        So the National Science Board, which sets NSF policy, produced a 1972 report which said, “Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end, to be followed by a long period of considerably colder temperatures leading into the next glacial age some 20,000 years from now.” They of course said man was implicated in causing the change.

        The press didn’t get on board until 1974 or 1975 with articles like the famous Newsweek and Time pieces.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh georgie, oh dear. Did you even read what you cut and pasted? Did you understand it? It is incontrovertible that the past million or so years on earth have seen many ice ages and warmer inter glacial periods. We are in an interglacial period now. An ice age will return at some point, maybe 20000 years, as the abstract notes. That doesn’t have squat all to do with AGW since it refers to the long term ( thousands or millions of years) trend of warm and cold periods we’ve been in for a million years. Nobody is denying that especially since there is still plenty of research on past ice ages and the various cycles, the Milankovitch Cycles, that lead to long term climate change. In fact that kind of thing is something those darned climate scientists do. You know the kind you only quote when they say something you think supports you and roundly ignore when they say something you don’t like. Even more there is tons of research on the long term correlation of CO2 and temp and its linkage to ice ages.

        Thats part of the thing about climate science, there is really a lot of different avenues of research, past and present, about all the various things that lead to long term climate. It is far more than just grabbing a quick talking point. Past and future ice ages are an interesting but well known and discussed topic. Not really a revelation at all.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Isn’t trolling against the comment policy around here?
        You guys are seriously feeding the troll, too.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Again, from the National Science Board:

        “An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.”

        They’re weren’t talking about Milankovitch cycles, they were talking about anthropogenic aerosols, primarily from coal and oil, and a temperature reduction that could be more rapid and about twice the magnitude of what the IPCC AR5 is now projecting for warming.

        The science actually works in their favor in presenting an ice-age as an actual, catastrophic threat, since even a little global cooling has a devastating effect on crops (and always does), and an actual ice-age would literally wipe many cities and some countries off the map.

        Arguing the opposite, that warming is even worse, requires a whole lot of bizarre nonsense and an intense suspension of disbelief. The map of human density and species diversity is dense in the tropics, falling to virtually nil at the poles. When the world was much warmer prior to the ice ages and during many previous interglacials, that inreased species diversity and density expanded almost to the arctic circle, while the thriving, abundant life continued in the tropics.

        Any objective scientist, prior to the birth of this wacko religious moment that’s based on sin and redemption, would’ve noted that warmer periods are much better for life than cooler periods. Instead, we’re to believe that the planet was dancing on the head of a pin, as if created by God in a state of perfection for man’s preindustrial enjoyment, reaching its apex on Earth Day, 1970, and marking the day against which any temperature deviation must represent suffering and disaster.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        lol georgie…you present a fact from scientists when it supports what you say they proceed to spew insults and conspiracy at the scientists who don’t say what you believe in. brah vo!!! a fine example of something or other.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        George,
        Go read Dr. Brin. We’re on the top edge of class M planets.
        But I care less about convincing you about this subject
        than about discussing how to design a better toilet.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, a science-fiction author would be a highly appropriate source for information about global warming, because they’re good at making stuff up. ^_^

        David Brin believes that 100% of scientists support the consensus, which is absurd since even alarmists, in trying to prove a 97% consensus, had to do it by counting all the scientific papers written by leading skeptics as supporting CAGW (Yes, they really did that).

        A more famous view is Michael Crichton’s lecture Aliens Cause Global Warming, which he delivered ten years ago. It is just as valid today, whereas Brin’s consensus is starting to show major cracks as the Earth continues to obstinately disobey the model projections.

        The rub is that in the early IPCC reports, global warming was taken as a very tentative proposition (that man might be influencing the climate to a measurable degree). Then we had the step-change with back-to-back El Ninos (producing the temperatures from the mid-90’s and 2000’s), the onset of which convinced many scientists that hey, that temperature graph really is shooting up.

        Graphs carry a lot of weight with scientists, which is how so many scientists back in the 1970’s thought maybe global cooling was real. The temperature trend was down, so something must be happening… A big upward jump had a similar effect, apparently confirming all the models – for a time.

        But the temperatures didn’t keep rising as predicted, and we’re set to fall out of the range of all of the 40-some climate models that the IPCC references. Not a single run of any model had an 18-year span with no statistically significant change in temperatures. Four years ago this even prompted Kevin Tremberth to send the famous e-mail to Michael Mann saying:

        The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.*

        In science, data is supposed to trump theory, theory isn’t supposed to adjust data.

        There is a continued lack of warming. This year has seen the coldest arctic summer ever recorded, and there is 55% more summer ice this year than last year, taking the area back to the peak values of the 1980’s, while Antarctic ice extent just set its all-time record. As this continues, or as temperatures rapidly decline, it will indicate a high likelihood that the models significantly under-estimated solar influences and over-estimated CO2 (the IPCC AR5 is cutting their estimate of climate sensitivity roughly in half), and that the 1990’s step-change that convinced so many scientists that the CAGW proposition had merit was actually the result of the solar Grand Maximum at the very end of the 20th century.

        The sun is now entering an extremely quiescent period, which will provide one of the best tests imaginable to correlate solar activity to climate, and that data will roll in regardless of any efforts to obfuscate it (NOAA’s constant tweaks to past temperature records are so notorious that everybody uses screen grabs. Just last week Georgia lost almost two whole degrees from the first half of the 20th century. In real science, past data doesn’t have to be constantly altered to support a narrative).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Georgy,
        Nearly 100% of “climate change skeptics” are paid for by Exxon (or other oil companies), or were, as of the time of the research.

        Brin knows the guy who did that research. You can find fault with many things, but not that data — regardless of who he’s working for, that chap does damn fine research.

        If you would be so kind as to actually read the article I referred to, you might find that your hat tastes good.

        Until then, if you call my friends liars and worse, I will continue to think you a knave and a putz.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      And how much are they paid, tens of dollars? I am a noted skeptic and haven’t seen a dime. I correspond with many prominent skeptics, and only a handful have had any study even partially paid for, usually just covering the costs of a PC and some equipment. The whole fiasco with warmists committing identity theft and fraud in the Heartland scandal made all that embarrassingly clear. Contrary to the wild fantasies of the progressives, oil companies aren’t funding skepticism, nor are the evil Jews.

      In contrast, the warmists have received tens of billions of dollars, government paid supercomputer centers, and endless perks. James Hanson alone took home over one point six million dollars of illicit cash as a government employee, in violation of numerous ethics rules. But he’s trying to save the planet, so it’s okay.

      Second, the oil companies are the ones behind much of the alarmism. Much of the anti-coal funding came from natural gas interests, since if we abandon coal the next alternative is methane from fracking. BP billed itself as a green energy company and threw tons of money toward alarmist causes, and most of the others followed suit. Exxon, ironically, along with some other oil companies, are the ones chiefly responsible for bringing solar voltaic technology to fruition, since they were the only companies that had an early need for it, aside from use in space satellites.

      And finally, dismissing the lack of rising temperatures as Jew science tied to evil oligarchs in the Anglo-capitalist oil industry is a familiar line of propaganda. It’s been done to death.Report

  9. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    The Centrist Movement platform sounds like a righest Democrat platform. With real dems to vote for, who’d vote for this BS?

    We have two parties-they both advocate for a society structure with very few differences between them. Why should I bother to get invested?Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      Because if you don’t, one day you’ll wake up and find your liberty has been sacrificed on the alter of security (economic and otherwise) for an elite group of people who aren’t you. At that point, there will be few avenues of recourse left to correct the problem.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        You think that day is still to come? It came and went years ago!

        However, I’m a firm believer in self correcting systems, although they tend to be messy. The Visigoths will come over the wall. When the time comes you can either 1) get out of the way 2) Defend the ramparts, or 3) join the invaders.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t specify the date, only the outcome. And systems of human endeavour don’t “self-correct” they are corrected by human action or they destroy themselves. See Empire, Roman, or Empire British for but two examples.

        And FWIW I’ll probably open the gates so they can come in without destroying the walls.Report

  10. Avatar Shelley
    Ignored
    says:

    Another interesting sidelight is that Aaron Sorkin’s excellent new show The Newsroom features a lead character who sometimes attacks Tea Party positions–or, to use my favorite quote from the show, tries to “speak truth to stupid”–and he’s not a Democrat; he’s a Republican.Report

  11. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    When people talk negatively about the current GOP there are of course many complaints, however two stand out to me: same-sex marriage and climate change.

    I’d add women’s rights, particularly reproductive issues and social safety nets, since single mothers and their children are the largest group of people in poverty; not to mention the lack of fair representation in business and to a lesser degree in government, particularly in the higher levels where policy decisions are made.

    Another concern here is wealth inequality; but I have no idea how one goes about actually framing this in terms the GOP will accept as a problem.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      reproductive rights and social safety nets are difficult enough issues that saying the GOP is bad on them doesn’t really say much.

      The question of abortion is genuinely a difficult question. And because if one side is correct, it involves killing actual persons, it cannot automatically be the kind of thing we leave up to each individual.

      On social safety nets it is not even clear if one side talks a better game than the other, and even if that is the case, neither side does a very good job (or for that matter even a minimally decent job) at setting up good social safety nets.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        There is no way we can’t leave it up to the individual.
        Just like we do when we give people 2-ton missiles every day.
        (Okay, so not everyone lives on a hill, with cars passing above every day.
        It’s covered under insurance! I checked).Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      Wealth inequality creates an economic drag because basic necessities REQUIRE government support or intervention, thus creating an expansive role for government, exacerbating deficits, and driving the need for either significant domestic cuts elsewhere, or increased taxes. This is because the current continuing lagging recession is driven by lack of demand, fueled by two plus decades of depressed wages which, after the housing credit bubble burst, drove consumption down.

      As I have written countless times now, you can’t “fix” a demand side downturn in the economy with supply side solutions.Report

  12. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    George: “So how did a change in ocean pH kill off 75% of the land species? Did they somehow die while vacationing at the beach? ”

    Go to a high school, and pay a smart student there to talk to you about how the sea and the land are linked. Ask him about this stuff called ‘plankton’, for a start.

    “As it turns out (quite unexpectedly because nobody’s been doing much science, just harping about the global apocalypse due to mankind’s sins) actual ocean pH is all over the map, both spatially and temporally, bouncing from 7.4 to 8.4 just in the one study’s limited observations.”

    Ask that smart student to inform you next about this thing called an ‘average’.

    The raw f*cking stupid in George burns.

    What do you do for a living?Report

  13. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    Mike,

    This alludes to what many of us on the Right already know, which is that there is much more nuance on our side of the aisle than others give us credit for. In light of this need to keep the coalition together, I agree with Mark’s assessment completely that it is too risky for Republicans to make the compromises that groups like the Centrist party would like to see. In that unfortunate situation, the best they can hope for is a slow moderation on those topics, the kind that only comes with patience. It is the reality of conservatism that it moves slowly and that is both appealing to some and incredibly frustrating for others.

    Where to begin. If the current Republican party has more nuance then you believe is widely know, whose fault is that?

    If Republicans can’t make compromises to move to the Center, and thus have an actual electoral shot at governing again, whose fault is that?

    If the heart of movement conservatism is slow progress requiring patience from others, then why have so many recently (last 8 years) Republicans moved so quickly to the far Right in their public, policy and voting stances?

    Answering these questions will go farther to getting a path back to sanity – and governing authority – for your party of record then anything else. I sort of admire the Centrists moxie, but they are sill barking up the wrong tree.Report

  14. Avatar DavidTC
    Ignored
    says:

    To the contrary, there are many topics where the GOP lines up closer to public opinion than their Democrat counterparts. For example, their support for gun rights had widespread agreement as does their stances on immigration and education.

    Uh, no. The American people are often vastly in favor of gun control policies the right is shooting down, such as expanding background checks. ~86% of _Republicans_ are in favor of that.

    If you actually start talking about _policies_, almost any policies the Democrats have suggested, there is anything from a slight majority to an overwhelming majority in favor of it. 51% want to ban ‘assault weapons’, whatever that means, 60% want bans on large clips, the entire damn country wants expanded background checks.

    If you start talking about ‘gun control’ as a whole…well, I was going to say that the trained seals the Republican party had created will bark it down, but actually a very slight majority of American are in favor of stronger gun control, _period_. With no specifics at all. I will repeat: A slight _majority_ of Americans, when asked ‘Would you like a law to restrict gun ownership more?’, said _yes_, without a specific law or policy in front of them. (And another 35% or so said ‘The laws are fine’. It’s only 10% who want looser laws.)

    Things that ~53% of the public support _as a general statement_, and support _even more_ with specific policies, are not something that people who oppose them are ‘closer to public opinion’ in.

    http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htmReport

  15. Avatar Will H.
    Ignored
    says:

    A good article, Mike.

    A few things about the GOP I would like to see laid to rest:

    1) The argument that global warming is a natural occurrence.
    It’s irrelevant. If it’s naturally occurring, then the onus to act is exponentially increased.
    Maybe Schilling or someone more adept than myself could check my work here, but:

    (N * 1) + ( (1 – N) * x) = T
    where N is the natural occurrence of global warming, T is the target we have set as an acceptable level, and x is the amount of man-made causes, then x has to rise at a much faster pace than N in order for T to be constant.
    That is, it’s not a sound argument.

    2) Environmentalism generally.
    What irks me about the Keystone pipeline is that not once have I heard about hexavalent chromium. As an API 1104 certified inspector, I can tell you with 100% certainty the pipeline will leak, regardless of where it goes. And unless that oil sands crude is de-sulfurized at point of origin, high-chromium piping will be required. There’s going to be hexavalent chromium deposits around the site, no doubt about it.
    Arguing Selexol against a carbon tax is a winning position. I think more people should understand the difference between Selexol and Rectisol.

    But I will say that, having been on both sides of the aisle within the past ten years, departure from orthodoxy is much more widely tolerated among the Right.Report

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