FM newswire for 10 February, articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis.  If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague. 

  1. A look at one of the flaws in our dysfunctional Congress:  “‘Holds’ in the Senate” Walter J. Oleszek, Congressional Research Service, 19 May 2008
  2. The ‘Devastating’ Decision“, Ronald Dworkin (Prof of Law at NYU) , blog of the New York Review of Books, 26 January 2010 — “This the decision will further weaken the quality and fairness of our politics.”
  3. NASA”s new website opens with false propaganda:  “NOAA’s new website – a first day sin of omission“, Anthony Watts, Watts Up with That, 8 February 2010
  4. Does Mating Competition Drive China’s High Savings Rate?”, Patrick Chovanec, 8 February 2010
  5. Apostles of Nihilism“, Eliot Spitzer, Slate, 8 February 2010 — “Republicans are winning the war of political rhetoric. Here’s how the president needs to fight back.”
  6. The Tea Partiers: Fraudulent Fiscal Conservatives“, Andrew Sullivan, blog of The Atlantic, 8 February 2010
  7. If Marc Thiessen Doesn’t Want to be Compared to the He Should Stop Advocating Torture Techniques Used in the Spanish Inquisition“, Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, 8 February 2010
  8. A bit of background for the above article:  “No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition“, Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, 8 February 2010 — Good news!  We’re not as bad as the the S.I.
  9. Republicans love populist anger against banks, but oppose meaningful bank reform:  “The Republican Party’s Requited Love for Large Banks“, Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, 8 February 2010
  10. Sarah Palin’s Storm at the Tea Party“, Fred Kaplan, Slate, 8 february 2010 — “Why haven’t responsible Republicans spoken out against her?”

 Today’s features:

(A)  About our Queen for a Day, Sarah Palin
(B)  Dumbest thing I read today (crude fiction category)
(C)  Quote of the Day: America is not yet lost
(D)  Today’s Climate Science bulletin

(A)  About our Queen for a Day, Sarah Palin

I find sad — even pitiful — that neither left nor right sees how they act in similar fashion, painting their hopes on empty suits.  In return Obama and Palin act out the dreams of the audiences. Perhaps this is how our great nation dies, in delusion and folly.  It would not be the first time in history.

(B)  Dumbest thing I read today (crude fiction category)

 “Obama is Succeeding“, Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, 8 February 2010 — Does he expect anyone to believe this hyperbole?  Excerpt:

“The Obama administration has also spearheaded a little-noticed but rather dramatic reform of K-12 education through its Race to the Top programme. … The result of this has been a tide of reform sweeping state legislatures all across the land, with restrictions on test-based assessment of teacher quality and arbitrary caps on charter schools falling by the wayside.”

(C)  Quote of the Day

From:  “America Is Not Yet Lost“, Paul Krugman, op-ed in the New York Times, 7 February 2010:

Today, by contrast, the Republican leaders refuse to offer any specific proposals. They inveigh against the deficit — and last month their senators voted in lockstep against any increase in the federal debt limit, a move that would have precipitated another government shutdown if Democrats hadn’t had 60 votes. But they also denounce anything that might actually reduce the deficit, including, ironically, any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely.

And with the national G.O.P. having abdicated any responsibility for making things work, it’s only natural that individual senators should feel free to take the nation hostage until they get their pet projects funded.

The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government.

For more on this see:  What comes after the Constitution? Can we see the outline of a “Mark 3″ version of the United States?, 10 November 2008

(D)  Today’s Climate Science bulletin

This is not a question about which theory is correct, but rather about misrepresenting the climate science debate.  “The science is settled” is a lie designed to stiffle public debate and blind us to actual research.  Much has been made about articles suggesting a link between rising temperatures and droughts.  As usual, contrary articles are ignored.  Such as this…

On the recent warming in the Murray-Darling Basin: Land surface interactions misunderstood“, Natalie Lockart et al, Geophysical Research Letters, 25 December 2009 — Abstract:

Previous studies of the recent drought in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) have noted that low rainfall totals have been accompanied by anomalously high air temperatures. Subsequent studies have interpreted an identified trend in the residual timeseries of non-rainfall related temperature variability as a signal of anthropogenic change, further speculating that increased air temperature has exacerbated the drought through increasing evapotranspiration rates. In this study, we explore an alternative explanation of the recent increases in air temperature. This study demonstrates that significant misunderstanding of known processes of land surface – atmosphere interactions has led to the incorrect attribution of the causes of the anomalous temperatures, as well as significant misunderstanding of their impact on evaporation within the Murray-Darling Basin.


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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8 thoughts on “FM newswire for 10 February, articles for your morning reading”

  1. Geophysical Research Letters- Hey no fair, you can’t read actual papers! Weird how the jury really isn’t out when you read the actual papers. NSF and the journal editors may have other things in mind, but really, a lot of papers I read are much more ambiguous about the ‘effect’ of AGW than the media that reports them. Kind of nutty. Maybe it’s what you said about “what bleeds, leads.”

  2. To compare Obama and Palin in the same sentence as “empty suits” is indeed an audacity of… something! You right-wingers — I can’t decide what the precise admixture is between racism and envy.
    FM reply: I would respond to this, but there is zero content. Please explain the basis for your complaint. Obama has made a mockery of his promises during the election. In most key respects his policies have been similar (in economics and foreign policy, almost identical) to those of Bush. Government secrets (no transparency), ethics, bank bailouts, expanding wars — it is a long list. For someone who ra on a platform of “change”, the description empty suit seems well-deserved.


    Accusations of racism, the utility knife of leftists. We bow before your empty logic.

    “You right-wingers”

    Not a week goes by when someone accuses me of being a “right-winger”. Or a “leftist.” You folks should meet and get your stories straight. I discuss this foolishness in About the politics of the FM website team.

  3. Sarah Palin is John McCain’s revenge. I can’t believe he expected to lose the election, but I likewise can’t believe that he truly didn’t know that she wasn’t qualified for the job of VP. She could have been satisfactorily vetted in about two hours. Her lack of knowledge of anything useful would have been immediately apparent.

    Although it doesn’t make sense, it appears that after he lost the election he hoped that she would have a significant non-trivial following in the republican party, which she would then use to bedevil the republican establishment.

    I may be completely full of it, but it is clear to me that she is not the democrats’ “worst nightmare”, notwithstanding all of the touting of her to the contrary.

  4. FM: “I find sad — even pitiful — that neither left nor right sees how they act in similar fashion, painting their hopes on empty suits. In return Obama and Palin act out the dreams of the audiences. Perhaps this is how our great nation dies, in delusion and folly. It would not be the first time in history.

    Actually, according to Carroll Quigley (wiki him) a great nation/civilization dies when its instruments, or collective human networks designed to facilitate innovation, accumulation, and investment (that generate expansion), evolve into self serving institutions and so become ineffective in dealing with the original and emerging problems (halting expansion). This condition, he calls a period of “conflict” characterized by “class oppression, imperialist wars, religious movements, irrationality, and declining democracy”, in a vain attempt to re-ignite expansion by other means.

    According to Quigley, this is indeed how a nation dies – the Sarah Palin phenomena is more a symptom of something deeper than the threat she herself represents. Which is something on the order of a new reality show.
    FM reply: As I said in comment #9 (and dozens of other places), “the worrisome aspect is the crowd, not the speaker. Other, more competent, politicans will take notice of this movement. I suspect the results will be more difficult to ignore.”

  5. From #2: You right-wingers — I can’t decide what the precise admixture is between racism and envy.

    If you’re going to talk about racism, and state that someone sounds racist, you have to do it correctly, and be able to back it up with something substantive. Otherwise, the only thing you end up doing is depreciating the currency. This short video explains it pretty well: (“How To Tell People They Sound Racist“, video blog from ‘Jay Smooth’, originally posted on his site Ill Doctrine recorded on YouTube.)

  6. I would normally dismiss the Divine Sarah as just another flash in the pan but consider this this excerpt from an article by
    Glenn Greenwald
    of Salon:

    Today, Broder pens a gushing love letter to Sarah Palin — decreeing that we must “Take Sarah Palin seriously," admiring her "pitch-perfect recital of the populist message," and warning that she will be difficult to stop as a major political force.”

    She and her husband make me very nervous.  If we are not carful she will be holding exorcisms in the Rose Garden after 2012. Cheers.
    FM reply: IMO Broder and many of his fellows at the Versailles-on-the-Potomac worship at the throne of power. Whomever sits on it. The closer outsiders approach, the more deeply he bows.

  7. FM, that is a really good way of describing Broder. That’s another reason I hang around here… the bon mots! (And, as you pointed out, its free.)

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