Bob Barr has big balls!

Bob Barr has big balls! While most Republicans stand mute as the President cedes new powers to himself and the state and conducts the war like a benevolent despot, Rep. Barr tells it like it is on civil liberties issues.

Barr, unlike many in Congress, at least knows what his job isn't:

Most people up here, Republicans especially, don't like to make waves. They prefer to sit back and go with the flow, or they might not speak out because it might be contrary to what the Republican president wants. But I was not elected to represent the president.

  • Paul Zrimsek

    One of Susan Haack’s justified complaints against Rorty’s account of truth is that, in a world where everyone believed it and behaved accordingly, inquiry would be replaced by lobbying. As a field of inquiry that has become (for non-Rortian reasons) infected with the spirit of lobbying, climate-change science serves as a cautionary tale.

  • John Derbyshire (a good science journalist despite his rather creepy views on some others subjects) made what I think is an interesting comment about this. When the science is not completely settled, there will be contrarians, and the will be people who are inside the system (eg., Lindzen). When it is completely settled, there will still be contrarians, but they will be outside the system (eg., that guy who lives in his mom’s garage and has a web site defending geocentric astronomy).

    Ergo, this science is not completely settled.

    • Bennett Kalafut

      This would mean that no science is settled until the old men die–it does not allow for science to be settled so long as there is an “inside the system” person who voices disagreement, regardless of his reasons or the merits of his argument.

      There is no means in academia for cranks to be forced out. And people who are part-time cranks but still do some good science, too (Balling, Lindzen) would be problematic cases if there were such means.

      • Don’t worry, most science is settled, but this definition. The science that we rely on when we turn on a light, use an ipod, drop a hydrogen bomb, etc. Settled science won’t disappear if you stop calling people like Lindzen a “crank.” What seems likely to me is that catastrophic AGW has not attained the status of the science that enables the computer I am using to work.

        • Bennett Kalafut

          Observational science can never reach that status–that’s too high a bar.

          But think: For AGW (“catastrophic” is a blogosphere canard) to be “wrong” in the colloquial sense, fairly elementary theory of the radiative properties of gases would have to be wrong, too.

          Lindzen doesn’t go that far, but many of these would-be “skeptics” do. “I don’t believe in basic spectroscopy or radiation theory, and I vote.”

  • jj

    It seems irrefutable that the earth is warming. Even if it is the case that the science isn’t settled, let’s consider two scenarios; man isn’t the main cause of global warming but we curb emissions anyway, or man is the cause of global warming but we don’t curb emissions. The the first scenario will probably be detrimental to the global economy but, the latter I believe is the far more dangerous prospect. Considering the rate at which the earth seems to be heating up and the implications of that process, I don’t think we can sit around and wait for the science to be settled.

  • A lot of readers may be interested to learn that the science on smoking and lung cancer isn’t “settled” either:

    Lindzen clearly relishes the role of naysayer. He’ll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking.

    Also, lots of scientists, including tenured biologists, disagree about this evolution business. So I guess that’s out. It’s so hard to come by secure knowledge these days.

    • DMonteith

      To imply that consensus is not identical to absolute unanimity is to savagely beat the English language with a lead pipe and leave it for dead in an alley.

      • DMonteith

        Also Michael, it’s pretty obvious that, vis a vis Will, you’re not one of, y’know, those contemporaries. Will is communing with Truth here, and nothing you say can prevent him from getting away with it.

      • I am nothing if not savage.

    • Bennett Kalafut

      Someone should ask Singer about the ozone hole, too.

      That’s the kind of guy libertarian think-tanks tend to hire as “senior fellow”.

    • stephen

      Not to be rude, but the evolution analogy is weak.

      1) Evolution theory has been around a lot longer. This doesn’t invalidate the analogy, but it still matters.

      2) Evolution theory is tautologically true unless you assume an intelligent designer. In other words, the only alternative hypothesis to Evolution Theory is “god did it”. While this may be a valid claim for some, it is most certainly NOT a scientific claim, nor a falsifiable one. With climate change, on the other hand, the alternative hypothesis to AGW theory is natural variation/low sensitivity. Actually there are many alternatives to AGW theory, but all of them make valid and testable scientific claims. The fact that there are quack biologists who believe in intelligent design has absolutely no relevance to the fact that there are climate scientist who think that natural variation with low climate sensitivity is a better model.

    • stephen

      Not to be rude, but the evolution analogy is weak.

      1) Evolution theory has been around a lot longer. This doesn’t invalidate the analogy, but it still matters.

      2) Evolution theory is tautologically true unless you assume an intelligent designer. In other words, the only alternative hypothesis to Evolution Theory is “god did it”. While this may be a valid claim for some, it is most certainly NOT a scientific claim, nor a falsifiable one. With climate change, on the other hand, the alternative hypothesis to AGW theory is natural variation/low sensitivity. Actually there are many alternatives to AGW theory, but all of them make valid and testable scientific claims. The fact that there are quack biologists who believe in intelligent design has absolutely no relevance to the fact that there are climate scientist who think that natural variation with low climate sensitivity is a better model.

  • pithlord

    Even if there is no genuine scientific uncertainty around the existence of AGW, there is lots of uncertainty about how bad it will be.

    But so what? What matters is risk mitigation. We should spend $1 if and only if the expected value of the mitigated risk is greater than or equal to $1, with suitable discounts for risk aversion and time preference. We would have done the right thing even if ex post it turns out we wouldn’t have suffered the damage.

    Since I can’t really believe Will doesn’t understand this, I wonder about his good faith on the subject.

  • Vangel

    Even if there is no genuine scientific uncertainty around the existence of AGW, there is lots of uncertainty about how bad it will be.

    But I just heard Gavin Schmidt from GISS and RealClimate just admit that there was huge uncertainty. The e-mails clearly show uncertainty.

    But so what? What matters is risk mitigation. We should spend $1 if and only if the expected value of the mitigated risk is greater than or equal to $1, with suitable discounts for risk aversion and time preference. We would have done the right thing even if ex post it turns out we wouldn’t have suffered the damage.

    Correct. That is the problem with the AGW side. It cannot justify the spending because none of the proposals will do anything to combat warming even if they were right about CO2 emissions.

  • Mailer

    Even if we grant the dubious proposition that there is a “consensus” in the scientific community that AGW is real and significant, there is certainly nothing remotely resembling a consensus on the following crucial empirical questions:

    1. How much of the warming is due to human activities vs. natural variability. The IPCC “consensus” is merely that the warming is “primarily” anthropogenic. But is that 51%, 70%, 95% or what? It matters greatly.

    2. How much additional warming will occur by a given future date under various emission scenarios. This is primarily a matter of the huge uncertainty surrounding “climate sensitivity.”

    3. The physical effects of a given level of warming on sea levels, ecosystems, agriculture, water resources, and so on.

    4. The nature and magnitude of the costs and benefits of a given level of warming.

    The answers to these questions are crucial to policy choices, but the “science is settled” crowd rarely pays them any serious attention, preferring to dwell on worst-case-scenario predictions to try and build support for their predetermined policy agenda.