“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Frightening, not so moderate appointments

Obama names Holdren, Lubchenco to science posts

Sat Dec 20, 9:18 AM EST

President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday named a Harvard physicist and a marine biologist to science posts, signaling a change from Bush administration policies on global warming that were criticized for putting politics over science.

Both John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco are leading experts on climate change who have advocated forceful government response. Holdren will become Obama's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and does much of the government's research on global warming.

Holdren also will direct the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Joining him as co-chairs will be Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research.

"From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way," Obama said in announcing his selections in his weekly radio address. "Leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process."

"Because the truth is that promoting science isn't just about providing resources — it's about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology," he said. "I could not have a better team to guide me in this work."

In their posts, the four scientists will confront challenges in global warming after years of inaction by the Bush administration, which opposed mandatory cuts of greenhouse gas pollution. Last year, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified to Congress that top Bush administration officials often dismissed global warming as a "liberal cause" and sought to play down public health reports out of political considerations.

Since 1993, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas, and global warming is accelerating. The amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has already pushed past the level some scientists say is safe.

Holdren, 64, is a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington who has pushed for more urgent action on global warming. As Obama's top science adviser, he would manage about 40 Ph.D-level experts who help shape and communicate science and technology policy.

Colleagues say the post is well-suited for Holdren, who at Harvard went from battling the spread of nuclear weapons to tackling the threat of global warming. He's an award-laden scientist comfortable in many different fields.

"Global warming is a misnomer. It implies something gradual, something uniform, something quite possibly benign, and what we're experiencing is none of those," Holdren said a year ago in a speech at Harvard. "There is already widespread harm ... occurring from climate change. This is not just a problem for our children and our grandchildren."

Lubchenco, an Oregon State University professor specializing in overfishing and climate change, will be the first woman to head NOAA. A member of the Pew Oceans Commission, Lubchenco has recommended steps to overcome crippling damage to the world's oceans from overfishing and pollution and has expressed optimism for change once President George W. Bush leaves office.

"The Bush administration has not been respectful of the science," she said earlier this year. "But I think that's not true of Republicans in general. I know it's not. I am very much looking forward to a new administration that does respect scientific information and that considers it very seriously in making environmental policies."

Varmus, who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for his research on the causes of cancer, served as National Institutes of Health director during the Clinton administration. A former medical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, he helped found the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention and chairs a scientific board at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lander, who teaches at both MIT and Harvard, founded the Whitehead Institute-MIT Center for Genome Research in 1990, which became part of the Broad Institute in 2003. A leading researcher in the Human Genome Project, he and his colleagues are using the findings to explore the molecular mechanisms behind human disease.

In his radio address, Obama said he planned early next year to more closely address the issue of engaging the nation's technology community to "harness technology and innovation to create jobs, enhance America's competitiveness and advance our national priorities."

"It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology," he said.


Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
The heat is being turned up. Climate change is much too mild. Look for more "climate crisis" rhetoric. "This is an emergency and as we know, dire times call for dire measures."


  1. Who cares about global warming? Under the Bush Administration, the EPA suppressed data showing that there was still an asbestos hazard in lower Manhattan following the collapse of the World Trade Center because someone was in a rush to get Wall Street up and running again.

    On September 13, just two days after the terror attack, the EPA announced that asbestos dust in the area was "very low" or entirely absent. On September 18 the agency said the air was "safe to breathe." In fact, more than 25 percent of the samples collected by the EPA before September 18 showed presence of asbestos above the 1 percent safety benchmark...

    Bad science kills.

  2. Point in case,
    From X3NA's link:
    Today, flat-earthers within the Bush Administration--aided by right-wing allies who have produced assorted hired guns and conservative think tanks to further their goals--are engaged in a campaign to suppress science that is arguably unmatched in the Western world since the Inquisition. Sometimes, rather than suppress good science, they simply order up their own.

    Turning up the heat. Changing the climate.

  3. That nation writer talks about Torquemada and reminds me of Joseph Goebbels.

  4. "The debate is over." Al Gore
    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels.

  5. More Goebbels:
    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

  6. Barnstable Town Council President Frederick Chirigotis addressed the crowd, followed by Barnstable Deputy Police Chief Craig Tamash.

    Tamash urged people to fight against society's tendency to become desensitized to violence, and cited the recent murder of Hyannis teen Jordan Mendes as an example.

    "We all have to move past the violence and make this a better world for all of us and our children," Tamash said.

    Honoring Couple

  7. Dire times call for dire measures

    We have to do something!

    Before it is "to late"!

    How many people can the planet support, in the manner they'd like to be supported?

    Doubt if it is over 2 billion.

    The best part of mat's cut and paste, last thread

    -- that the death of our currency seems assured. ...

    Part of the plan ...
    Along with he continued 'redesign' of US currency, just another symptom of Amero fever.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. None of the attacks materialized.

    Every cell was broken, beforehand.
    With knowledge and forethought.

    But by whom and why, not at all clear. Mr Taheri has his suspests, but admits there is no evidence, only supposition and circumstance.

  10. As the President-elect said, back in 2007

    ... the eyes of the world have always turned to this nation as the "last, best hope of Earth."

    That is the America I want to lead as President. I believe that when it comes to the issue that will determine the very future of life on this Earth, we are still Earth's best hope. And when the world arrives at the doorstep of the White House to hear what America has to say about climate change, I will let them know that America is up to the challenge. That America is ready to lead again.

    We have not fallen behind on energy due to a lack of ingenuity or initiative from the American people. I have seen too much innovation and possibility in this country to believe that.

    Right here in New Hampshire, I've filled up at a biodiesel pump at UNH, where this year students and faculty will remove over 200 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
    New Hampshire is already reducing its greenhouse gas pollution as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and thanks to the leadership of Senator Martha Fuller Clark and Governor Lynch, you'll get 25% of your energy from renewable sources by 2025.

    Now, bob, that's what I had in mind for your farm, and the University, a pilot program of biodiesel or ethanol. Could pay you and yours an annuity, forever.

    The rewards of leadership

  11. People who read The Nation need to get a life.

  12. The U of Idaho was working on biodiesel some years back. Quite a few years back, but don't know what happened to the program. We studied cow farts too, before that became popular. Currently, we burn wood chips at the University power plant. I imagine this isn't too CO2 friendly, but cleaner than coal.

    It's gonna take more than my alfalfa to power much of anything.

    What I would like to score is a cell phone tower. Those pay good, but dammit, the church, that my ancestors gave the land to, got the cell phone tower.

    I didn't think that was fair:(

    Spirituality giving way to mammon like that.

  13. DARPA says that more than 90 percent of the fuel used by the Department of Defense is JP-8, amounting to 71 million barrels and a cost of $6 billion in 2006. The kerosene-based fuel is less flammable and less hazardous than other fuel options, allowing for better safety and combat survivability.

    JP-8 is also used to fuel heaters, stoves, tanks, and other vehicles in military service. Commercial airliners use Jet A and Jet A-1, which is also kerosene-based.

    Meanwhile, Science Applications has been working with BAE Systems (LSE: BA), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) and the Army to develop next-generation combat vehicles (see Saft gets follow-on contract for hybrid combat vehicle).

    BoB to Work for DoD

  14. hehehehe--

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A California official is warning that the state will run out of money in about two months unless a budget deal is struck.
    State Controller John Chiang said Monday that his office could be forced to defer billions of dollars in payments or issue IOUs.

    He says the instability of the banking industry has made borrowing money to bridge the gap an uncertain possibility.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is raising hopes of a budget deal this week. He says he wants to work with Democratic leaders to close a $42 billion shortfall projected through mid-2010.

    Schwarzenegger says he and lawmakers are making progress on an $18 billion proposal that was passed without Republican support.

    California IOU's

    CalU's :)

  15. I foresee a whole new market opening up to trade California IOU's.

  16. Hey al Bob,

    Burning wood waste is "carbon neutral" according to the "science is settled" crowd.

    See, when wood sits on the forest floor, rotting, it is emitting the CO2 stored inside of it. When you burn it, same thing.

    My company is building some new wood waste-burning power plants, and the local tree-huggers are pissing themselves about it.

    National watermelons are on board. Local level is NIMBY all the time.

  17. hmmm, hadn't thought about that.

    I hear down in San Francisco they've banned wood burning.

    If they're against it, I'm for it.

    What you say makes sense.

  18. Doesn't the rotting wood on the forest floor have benefits? Compost production? New plant life fuel?

  19. Well we could have guessed this--Minnesota Secretary of State has ties to ACORN and Soros.

    Miraculously, the vote seems turning in Frankenstein's favor.

    Who'd a thunk it.

    Minnesota Vote Grab

  20. Sounds like Fitzy needs to train his sights on Minnesota/Ritchie from Illinois/Blago.

  21. "We're down to some important but relatively small - in a numerical sense - side issues"

    -Mark Ritchie

  22. Yeah, I think so too Sam, but Here's an alternative look.

    It's odd, there is a little hill out on my farm that was just grass for years and years, with some pine trees nearby. All of a sudden one year, the whole hill sprouted with seedlings. The ph in the soil, or some other factors, has to be just right, then boom, the seeds sprout. I've read the forests in the northeast go through long, long cycles of different type trees, too.

  23. If CO2 is now a pollutant, regulated by the EPA, and rotting wood gives off CO2, what they gonna do, arrest all the dead trees?

    I think the Achilles Heel of the Obama regime may well be this warming stuff, if they go crazy on it. That and the alternative energy schemes. Fuel prices will go back up, there will be regulation on regulation, people will get sick of it all. Gas at 4 or 5 dollars again, no end in sight, just more regs and taxes.

  24. No, LT, it's called building a community. You don't care about that, you live in Hicksville, so this conversation not for you.

    It's a mentality like yours that builds places like Detroit Buffalo Los Angeles Louisiana and a host of other disaster areas masquerading as places for people to live.

    Mon Dec 22, 07:20:00 PM EST

    Tempting as it is to shrug off your smarmy insults, I'll call your bait, mat, and raise you. You're nothing but a pampered educated fool with a professional degree and time on his hands, who takes collectivist delight in advising others on how they should live their lives. You may have had grease under your fingernails at one time, but it's been so long since you left the IDF that you've forgotten what it feels like. You'd be hard pressed to change a tire without getting on your cell phone to call for roadside assistance. Are you on commission from for all the traffic you try to generate for them with your inane links? You should be.

    It's a mentality like yours that builds places like Detroit Buffalo Los Angeles Louisiana and a host of other disaster areas masquerading as places for people to live.

    :-( Best you can do?

    Be careful, mat. Your metrosexuality is beginning to show through the veneer of haughty progressiveness you've woven around yourself. You might want to start saving your lunch money for the time when you have to move out of mommy's basement.

  25. In a January 2008 interview with the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, liberal Syrian intellectual Georges Tarabishi stated: “There can be no democracy without secularism, since only under secularism can one free oneself from religious or sectarian mentalities, and as a consequence think and choose with one’s mind. For this reason…democracy depends not just on the ballot box, but also, and primarily, on the box called the cranium.”

    This is well put. The cranium, however, may also confine and inhibit as readily as it may liberate, depending on whether it is closed or open to the world.

    Unfortunately, Western politicians, diplomats and intellectuals have not yet learned how to think outside the cranial box.

    Streetcar Named Democracy

  26. Blogger Sam said...

    Doesn't the rotting wood on the forest floor have benefits? Compost production? New plant life fuel?

    Sam - it sure does.

    We have deals with wood, paper and pulp companies that have managed forests. After they harvest for their needs, they leave a lot of stuff on the ground that they ultimately clear, burn or truck away so they can plant new seedlings for the next harvest. We just beetle-up what was once thrown away.

    We're not mowing over prime forest for the scraps and natural detritus. We're using waste product from manufacturing.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. You're nothing but a pampered educated fool with a professional degree and time on his hands, who takes collectivist delight in advising others on how they should live their lives.

    I'm not advising you, I'm telling you straight on, your shit aint gonna fly no more. Turning people into slaves, their living places into urban dead zones, and poisoning of air water and land, so some corporate shitheads can turn a quick buck, aint gonna pass.

  29. John Brennan, Obama's chief intelligence adviser and anticipated CIA chief, was recently forced to withdraw his name. There was no drumbeat of opposition to Brennan from the front pages or on cable.


    And Brennan said that as a result of his opposition to Bush policies, he was "twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current administration only to be rebuffed by the White House."

    In that sense, it would seem Brennan was the perfect man for a job with Obama -- but not good enough for the critics.

    Torpedoed by Bloggers

  30. Name: (last) __ALHARB______________

    (X_) Billy-Bob
    (_) Billy-Joe
    (_) Billy-Ray
    (_) Billy-Sue
    (_) Billy-Mae
    (_) Billy-Jack
    (Check appropriate box)

    Age: _50SOMETHIN+___
    Sex: _X___ M _____ F _____ N/A
    Shoe Size: __8__ Left _10___ Right

    (_)Hair Dresser

    Spouse’s Name: _peggysue_________________________

    Relationship with spouse:

    (_) Sister
    (_) Brother
    (_) Aunt
    (_) Uncle
    (_) Cousin
    (_) Mother
    (_) Father
    (_) Son
    (_) Daughter
    (X_) Pet

    Number of children living in household: n/a___
    Number that are yours: _UNSURE__

    Mother’s Name: _NONEOFYOURBUSINESS______________________

    Father’s Name: BILLBOB_____________________ (If not sure, leave blank)

    Education: 1 2 3 4+ (Circle highest grade completed)

    Do you (X_)own or (_)rent your mobile home? (Check appropriate box)

    _4__ Total number of vehicles you own
    _3__ Number of vehicles that still crank
    _2__ Number of vehicles in front yard
    _0__ Number of vehicles in back yard
    __0_ Number of vehicles on cement blocks

    Firearms you own and where you keep them:
    _X___ truck
    _X___ bedroom
    _X___ bathroom
    _X___ kitchen
    _X___ shed

    Model and year of your TRUCK: F-600_____________ 1960_

    Newspapers/magazines you subscribe to:
    (_)The National Enquirer
    (_)The Globe
    (_)TV Guide
    (_)Soap Opera Digest
    (x) Can't Read

    3000___ Number of times you’ve seen a UFO
    _1__ Number of times you’ve seen Elvis
    __1_ Number of times you’ve seen Elvis in a UFO

    How often do you bathe:
    (x_)Not Applicable

    Color of teeth:

    Brand of chewing tobacco you prefer:

    How far is your FARM from a paved road?
    (_)1 mile
    (X_)2 miles
    (_)don’t know

  31. Rotting wood doesn't put much back into the ground, I'm afraid. Forest dirt is notoriously infertile.

    About the only thing you can do for it is keep burning the trees down. You'll, eventually, end up with "black" dirt. The artsy-fartsy call it "Terra Preta." It's the most fertile soil on earth.

    The American Indians had some very effective hunting strategies based on burning down the forests. Did it for thousands of years, I think. Result: Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin.

  32. Bob, have you considered putting up a couple of Wind Turbines?

    John Deere will finance them for you. It's kind of a complicated story, with them getting some tax breaks, and whatnot; but I think the Farmer/Landowner comes out pretty good.

  33. Fox News:

    Brennan did say rendition was a vital tool -- after all, without it, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others might still be free.

    But when he withdrew his name from consideration, he wrote a letter to the president-elect, obtained by FOX News, in which he described himself as a Bush critic on many fronts.

    "It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush administration such as the preemptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding," Brennan wrote in the Nov. 25 missive.

    And Brennan said that as a result of his opposition to Bush policies, he was "twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current administration only to be rebuffed by the White House."

    In that sense, it would seem Brennan was the perfect man for a job with Obama -- but not good enough for the critics.

    Greenwald said Brennan's support for rendition and "all of the other enhanced interrogation techniques beyond waterboarding" makes him "unqualified" for the job.

    Intelligence veterans, however, say that sets an impossible standard.

    "If you were involved in a senior position in the intelligence community during the war on terror, you can't be nominated for another senior position," Lowenthal said.

    It's more problematic than this. Imagine Obama's predicament: Replacing the most popular DCI since the sun first rose on Langley, for reasons political, and having no one appropriately political at hand to take the reins AND keep the horses running. This wouldn't be so terrible, perhaps, if the horses were only pulling the Agency.

    That's what you call the horns of a true dilemma.

    If there's a learning curve not absolutely, mercilessly beaten flat in the inbriefs, we can all pray it's an anyhow uneventful one.

  34. I don't think we've got the wind here to make it worth it. I don't see any wind projects around here, Rufus. Maybe I'll call John Deere and ask about it. Thanks for the tip.

    I'm reading about the first Summit Meeting in US history, between George Washington and Chief McGillivray of the Creeks, that resulted in the Treaty of New York. Washington, Knox and others tried to make a fair deal with the Creeks and the others, but failed as they didn't have the means to prevent the incroachments of the white Georgian folk, the Georgia legislature and the Yazoo companies. Anyway, McGillivray was 1/4 Creek, 1/4 French and 1/2 Scot I think it was. But he was the leader as the Creeks were matrilineal in descent, and, while a great drinker, and small physically, he was also a good thinker too, even when he had been drinking. Any, it's interesting reading about their get-to-gether in New York. McGillivray was made an officer in the US Army. He was basically trying to play the Yanks and the Spanish off against one another, and succeeded for a while, too.

  35. How can you be against coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding, and for rendition at the same time, without your head exploding? Isn't rendition where you send to Egypt to be worked over?

  36. Humans are complicated, creatures, bob.

  37. I hold out hope that the salvation of the human race will occur when we master the technique of the induced near-death experience. That should go a long way toeards clearing up the priorities.

  38. Zap every high school kid and every politician on a visit to the other world, things will become more manageable.

  39. Take a few deep breaths, mat. You're sounding shrill and squeaky.

  40. There was a great line in The Man Who Came To Dinner, which we watched last night. The devious Sheridan Whiteside to two very young lovebirds: You make your parents angry. So what? It builds their character.

    My son, for his part, has dyed his magnificently dark hair platinum. With his sister's collusion. And chatted up for a number on a napkin a beloved hometown girl working an indoor soccer concession, after which he spent the next five hours shamelessly grinning to the rest of us. God only knows what he told her.

    That child is going to have me climbing the curtains 'til June. At least.

  41. Mat increasingly sounds like someone "gone off his meds."

    My condolences, Trish. I would not want to be dealing with a teenage son right now. I hear too many stories. :(

  42. A virgin forest takes about one thousand years and up to ten fires to re=achieve virginity. After all that effort it strikes an interesting irony, it is useless as a further store of carbon. Nothing more can grow until something dies. If a tree falls and rots, a new one can grow, or existing trees can expand , but on average, only to the level of the fallen tree. The land is in carbon balance. The only way to increase the value of the land as a future store for carbon is to cut down some or all of the existing trees.

    Then you have the problem of what to do with the cut wood. The most sensible would be to build something that will last for at least a couple of centuries. You could also sink it to the bottom of a very cold river. Either way, the carbon is temporarily removed from the environment and the new growth on cut land removes existing carbon from the atmosphere, at least for one thousand years.

  43. Whit, to your point, we just got through wasting bazillions of dollars of misplaced capital on needless over the top housing and financial engineering, we may do the same with automobiles , energy and fighting a carbon war.

  44. Obama could make the greenies greener by taking them nuclear. That would be a change.

  45. My condolences, Trish. I would not want to be dealing with a teenage son right now.

    - whit

    Times have changed. Oh my God have they ever.

    But as either nature or nurture would have it, he has his saving graces, as we all did.

  46. Mat increasingly sounds like someone "gone off his meds."

    Maybe I should be calling everyone that disagrees with me pampered faggots and commies so then I'll be considered perfectly medicated.