Re: Paleadvice

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So, Ask The Mineshaft is banned in NC?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 8:51 AM
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I thought apo hadn't been posting much lately.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:02 AM
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I'm nominating this quoted bit:
The board has also posted a statement on its Web site "concerning Steve Cooksey, an unlicensed person."
as the creepy-Orwellian phrase of the day. "Unlicensed person"?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:17 AM
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So, is this just a Matt Yglesias-funded setup to generate a good test case?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:21 AM
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Ask The Mineshaft A Scientist is banned in NC


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:28 AM
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There appear to be several different certification bodies, though many seem hella sketchy to me. Like, for example:

"As a NC law of attraction coach, I use Law of Attraction in both my personal and professional life all the time. Many people hear different stories about the law of attraction. Some say it is a physical law. Some say it is based on quantum physics. The truth about law of attraction is that it is a spiritual law freely given to all by God.

"Through law of attraction coaching, you learn to use law of attraction to attract wealth, attract abundance, attract a life partner,attract more customers, attract opportunities, meet people and more. Using law of attraction is easier than you might think once you truly understand it.

"The law of attraction has nothing to do with Quantum Physics. It is truly a spiritual law, freely given to all; one that has been taught and passed down through the generations by every religion around the globe for thousands of years."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:33 AM
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It's a spiritual law, freely given to all, subject to the certification requirements of the people that kept Jesse Helms in office for decades.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:35 AM
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Ermahgerd! Certifercershun!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:36 AM
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They took our jobs!

Wait, what are we talking about?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:49 AM
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Let's just say that most "nutritionists" will not fare well after the paleorevolution. On ne fait pas d'omlette (de jambon) sans casser des oeufs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:58 AM
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It is interesting that he went to a libertarian group of lawyers, rather than the ACLU. His argument is basically about speech, not economic liberty, so the ACLU seems like a better match. Instead, he went with the Institute of Justice, which feels the need first to explain free speech in economic terms (the marketplace of ideas) and then defend it.

It is getting to the point where there are two separate infrastructures for promoting individual liberty, based on distinct but overlapping concepts of what liberty is.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:59 AM
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I have the impression that therapisty jobs increasingly require licensure because otherwise people would say "ok, I want to get paid money to use my great powers of motivation and blah blah whatever to fix their lives, but I don't want to spend the money and jump through the hoops set up by the people already doing this who don't want me to encroach on their market." And then they encroach anyway and the encroached try to find ways to stop this from happening. I say this with profoundly mixed feelings as someone who 1) finds the life coach thing pretty vague, but 2) got screwed out of being a therapist by people who ostensibly believe that I'm less qualified to call myself a therapist than people who take jobs within some weirdly specific parameters (they're often awful and low-paying), perhaps more importantly, less qualified than people who had the good timing to get grandfathered into a clinical license.

Is licensure not a word? I use it all the time and it always gets a little red line under it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:05 AM
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It is interesting that he went to a libertarian group of lawyers, rather than the ACLU. His argument is basically about speech, not economic liberty, so the ACLU seems like a better match. Instead, he went with the Institute of Justice, which feels the need first to explain free speech in economic terms (the marketplace of ideas) and then defend it.

Presumably the Institute of Justice sees a way that winning on this issue could help some billionaire somewhere.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:05 AM
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11: I am but a simple farmer, but haven't definitions of liberty been highly contested throughout US history? I mean, I could see a guy like this running afoul of the Wheat Trust back in robber-baron days. Probably with a lot less likelihood of prevailing.

If only we had a federated union of free individuals, each responsible for themselves, and responsible for adhering to certain minimal community standards, with local decisions made by consensus where possible and larger social questions considered by a body of delegates (immediately recallable) who nevertheless were not empowered to create monopolies of violence to enforce their decisions! Then everything would be fine.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:08 AM
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12: Is licensure not a word? I use it all the time and it always gets a little red line under it.

Lycansure, the process of becoming a certified werewolf.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:10 AM
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13 is correct, of course.

This is a very stupid licensing regime that is stupid, but I get very very jittery* about expansion of constitutional first amendment protection for commercial speech, which is generally less about licensing than about installing constitutional protections to protect the right of business to defraud consumers.

*just personally. I'm available to be your hired gun on any side of this issue for a reasonable fee.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:14 AM
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[Half in jest, half serious:] The solution is for him to found a religion and then give dietary advice, not from a nutritional perspective, but based on the teachings of his church.

"First Church of Christ, Scientist Caveman"


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:28 AM
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I've got no problem with requiring dietary/nutrition advice to be licensed - there are a ton of them out there making people very ill or just fleecing people. And in this instance, the guy is clearly making strong medical claims, which quite rightly should be and are regulated. That doesn't mean the NC situation in general is appropriate (the life-coaching thing is just weird) or that licensing bodies are up to scratch.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:45 AM
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It is interesting that he went to a libertarian group of lawyers, rather than the ACLU.

It's because all these paleo people are libertarians. I'm pretty sure halford is really N/i/ck G1lles/pie looking for cooler friends.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:46 AM
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I'm very belatedly reading The Social Transformation of American Medicine, which has quite a lot about licensing - particularly the interesting fact that in the early 20C doctors basically put themselves into the political position of approving all new medical licensing regimes and making sure that they would always be subservient to doctors. Still, I agree with Halford in 16.

Was it on CT recently that I read that some libertarians actually see economic "liberty" as more important than civil and political rights, and are willing to sacrifice the latter for the former? I was surprised at least that some are willing to admit it, even if one of their eminences (Mises?) said so too. This institute seems very likely an example of that: "the right to earn an honest living, private property rights, and the right to free speech, especially in the areas of commercial and Internet speech."

I was going to ask how flush a group had to be to get ij.org, but it looks like they had it in 1998 or earlier.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:57 AM
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19 - That one really hurt.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:00 AM
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21: Aw . . . you know I love you. I will now listen to Couleur Café in honor of our bond.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:01 AM
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It's because all these paleo people are libertarians

Back on the veldt, the cave with the lowest capital gains tax rate got to eat the most mastodon meat. Fact.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:01 AM
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I'm unclear. Does this guy live in North Carolina? Would the problem go away if he moved over into Tennessee and kept doing what he is doing? Or is anyone on the internet subject to the regulatory whims of any state that people on the internet happen to use?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:03 AM
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It is interesting that he went to a libertarian group of lawyers, rather than the ACLU.

19 gets it right. Also, I bet representation by the Institute of Justice gets you a significantly more favorable hearing in front of a conservative judge than would representation by the ACLU (although the judge would never admit that).

The article seems a little unclear about whether a distinction is being drawn between free advice being offered in the form of blog posts, and the "paid life-coaching service". I don't think I have a problem with licensing of the latter. Licensing the former seems like it should be clearly unconstistitutional. The articles sort of makes it sound like NC thinks either should require a license, but, again, it's not totally clear.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:04 AM
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It is true, horribly so, that Robb Wolf is a climate change denier. It makes me ill. Still, he's right about bison.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:11 AM
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He's probably just overreacting because he's still jumpy after the last ice age.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:17 AM
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I don't think any wolves should be robbed.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:22 AM
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27: Just when you're all licensed up for hunting and gathering, the veldt moves a few hundred miles into an area with a different regulatory regime. Where's the Rule of Law in that?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:36 AM
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26: denier Wolff?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:42 AM
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Omit extraneous f.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:42 AM
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It is true, horribly so, that Robb Wolf is a climate change denier.

Whereas Robb Stark just won't stop with his bitchy little "Winter is coming" schtick.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 11:48 AM
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32: Whereas Robb Stark just won't stop with his bitchy little "Winter is coming" schtick.

****SPOILER ALERT******ʇıɐʍ ʇsnɾ.****SPOILER ALERT******


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 12:14 PM
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Back on the veldt, the cave with the lowest capital gains tax rate got to eat the most mastodon meat.

Where were the caves on the veldt? I thought the veldt was plains. Like, I don't know, southern Illinois. Or Iowa. Without corn.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 1:48 PM
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What? If Iowa didn't have caves, we wouldn't have the Iowa Pleistocene Snail!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 1:52 PM
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Q: How do you know someone is on a paleo diet?
A: They'll tell you.

The case is fun. I hope the guys defense has to turn on disclaiming any scientific/medical content for his advice.

I hate the paleo people. Well, not really. But I do hate them, really.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:02 PM
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Grainist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:03 PM
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Q: How do you know someone is on a paleo diet?
A: They'll tell you.

Hee.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:04 PM
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They'll be thinner and fitter than you?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:07 PM
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No no, they won't shut up about it. I think Gonerill's got it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:10 PM
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36.3:Down 15 pounds in 21 days. Again. I do sneak a sweet once in a while, but have lost the desire for breads.

Getting my exercise, besides short dogwalks (August in Texas is the Slough of Despond), on a dead thirty foot Grey Ash with an 18 inch diameter trunk. And a bow saw. Damn, that is some fine hardwood.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:13 PM
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40: right. And per 39 it's hard to get away from them because many of them can run fast. Unless you're on a bike. Or in a car.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:14 PM
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To be slightly serious for a second, the real problem is that there is effectively no such thing or agreed body of evidence in anything actually called "nutrition science" so that essentially everything you read about diet is bullshit, and much of the classic advice given by the diet establishment is demonstrably false and has had disastrous effects.

That doesn't mean that the paleo diet (particularly variations thereof, there is no one such thing) is clearly supported by "science" but essentially no other recommended diet is either, especially not the calorie-is-a-calorie people (there are some minor exceptions here, like the growing consensus that trans fats are bad), and the paleo diet has both (a) had a lot of demonstrable success in getting people thin and (b) relative to most other diet methodologies, is relatively responsive to evidence, interested in being scientific, and at least trying to create a model on which its success can be assessed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:14 PM
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To be slightly serious for a second, the real problem is being slightly serious for a second.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:18 PM
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interested in being scientific

Depends, dude. There are whole swaths of paleo/Xfit types nattering on about the Sacred Foods of Traditional Peoples. (Not to mentions lots and lots of just-so stories.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:22 PM
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With you some of the way there, Rob, but in terms of their attitude to theory and data, the paleo people are barely distinguishable from a multitude of other fad diets. As a group they to think of themselves as highly rational, but that and eight bucks will get you a Chipotle burrito bowl.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:24 PM
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I haven't run into the sacred foods of traditional peoples stuff -- it's mostly about how meat increases your athletic performance. But regardless the core paleo people do at least try to ground their arguments in evidence and argument, as opposed to just assertion and tradition, which was basically the view of traditional nutritionists and nutrition science.

I'd say that the long term health claims of the paleo diet are pretty dubious, as are some of the particular exclusions, but the effectiveness of it as a weight loss (while maintaining strength) and short-term health strategy are pretty obvious and real, and I've seen that not only in myself but in maybe 20-30 people I know. The US diet is ridiculously too filled with cheap grains and processed food, and that's true whether or not you agree that Seitan is poison.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:27 PM
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Also the "humans evolved to eat this way" part of the paleo diet is no less laughable than "humans evolved so that men would be better at mental rotation because that way they could triangulate antelopes and score busty mates" or "back problems are caused by invisible sekeletal injuries caused subluxations", but that's also fine. It's good that people find diets that work for them!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:28 PM
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46: I always get the bowl because flour tortillas are tasteless.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:34 PM
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46 -- depends on who you're talking about; Robb Wolf, I agree with you; these guys, much less so. But the general point is the overall crappiness of diet "science" in general.

48 -- I think that the general point that evolution could tell us something about optimal diet and food choice is almost certainly correct. It's pretty unlikely that the paleo diet as currently practiced by cultists (including me) very closely reflects what that science would teach us if we really understood it well, but I do think that fewer grains/more protein/less sugar is a good idea and that's likely true for reasons related to human evolution.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:34 PM
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it's hard to get away from them because many of them can run fast.

It's not that they run fast. They just keep chasing and chasing you, never tiring, until you're trapped and you either have to listen to them talk about the dangers of carbs or jump off a cliff.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:37 PM
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For reasons of human evolution, I wear gloves with five fingers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:40 PM
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So, is there research, or even anecdotal evidence, comparing a paleo diet with the same diet, except with whole grains? 'Cause if you're comparing the kind of paleo diets on that Wolf guy's website with the Standard American Diet, then of course paleo's going to look massively more healthy. But if you were eating paleo plus some quinoa and barley and brown rice and amaranth or whatever, would that really negate all the benefits? That seems like a pretty unsupportable claim, intuitively.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:42 PM
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I think that the general point that evolution could tell us something about optimal diet and food choice is almost certainly correct.

It's possible. It might tell us "there are lots of different options that work fine" (which is what I would bet on), but sure. That's not science, exactly, but it's general enough that it would be difficult for it to be wrong.

I do think that fewer grains/more protein/less sugar is a good idea and that's likely true for reasons related to human evolution.

Also certainly possible.

But as of right now, there's really no meaningful science to be had on the evolutionary side of things, just a lot of sciencism.

This lack is neither limited to the paleo diet nor indicative of any particular problem with the diet (chiropractic also often works), of course. And it is perfectly possible to do good empirical work based on shaky or outrigh implausible first principles.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:42 PM
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Have there been a lot of cases of paleos getting rabbit starvation? That seems like it could be pretty easy to do, given the kind of people who often sign up for fad diets and intense sports culture things.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:44 PM
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50: isn't that literally a just-so story? I don't really think evolution is a very useful tool for analysing contemporary human diet compared to other more direct ways of analysing diet.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:44 PM
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47: I don't think that traditional nutrition is as ridiculous as you make it out to be. Much of traditional conventional wisdom seems to come from older epidemiological studies. As it turns out, pretty much every suggestion has failed to improve outcomes in RCTs, but there was no way to know that at the time.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:45 PM
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55, you can eat as many rabbits as you want, so no.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:45 PM
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53: my sense is that there isn't that much large scale, methodologically sound research into comparative diets. That guy Carson Chow that got linked (and, if I recall, mocked for saying "a calorie is a calorie", which really isn't his point) talks about (does?) things along those lines (although not controlled experiments; observational studies), and I think Gary Taubes is trying to do the same thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:46 PM
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55: I'd doubt it -- they're not trying to avoid fat. Rabbit starvation is what you get from living off only lean meat; a little bacon would fix that right up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:46 PM
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53 -- there's some evidence, some of which is linked to above, comparing the "paleo" diet for health benefits with the Mediterranean, which comes close to what you're talking about. But it's not exactly conclusive; it's like the start of science on the issue, nothing conclusive.

I personally think that the commitment to cut out grains completely is mostly important for psychological/sticking with the diet reasons because our food system is so grain-staturated. If you were really able to eat only occasional whole grains in small portions, I personally can't imagine much difference (but it's not like I have available diet science handy, either).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:49 PM
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59 is my sense as well.

To 57, my lay understanding is that many of the older epidemiological studies were both (a) deeply flawed and (b) wildly over-misinterpreted to create (c) mainstream diet advice that was basically just dogma. I think Gary Taubes is very convincing on both of those points, even if you don't agree with his positive recommendations.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:51 PM
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plus some quinoa and barley and brown rice and amaranth

You have something against teff?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:51 PM
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God, I love teff. I think I will have Ethiopian food this week.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:53 PM
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HE WHO SMELT SPELT DEALT SMELT


Posted by: OPINIONATED PALEONTOLOGIST | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 3:53 PM
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62: If anybody ever figures out how to promote a diet without creating a grade-c movie heavy out of a group that is obviously ignored by 95% of the people, I'd follow it. Unless it was hard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:00 PM
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"What's happening to us, pa? Why are we all getting so fat?"

"I hoped this day would never come, little Jo. Son, get the shotguns. Honey, bar the doors. They're coming. They're coming tonight. It's... THE NUTRITIONISTS."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:02 PM
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62: I'm not an expert either, but I think it depends on the advice.

The evidence supporting sodium reduction always seemed non-existent, and now there's good evidence that there's no positive effect, and maybe even a negative effect.

But, a reasonable case could have been made that you should avoid dietary cholesterol. First, there's was (and still is) a strong correlation between measured cholesterol levels and heart disease. Second, there was a known and observed biochemical mechanism by which cholesterol caused plaque formation, and plaque seems linked to CHD. Third, statins were invented, and in randomized controlled trials statins were shown to reduce cholesterol and CHD.

Later, other cholesterol reducing drugs were found that didn't reduce CHD at all, which was very surprising. Then, people learned more about how statins work (turns out, it's not the cholesterol reduction that reduces heart attack risk). And then there were dietary studies that showed that maybe eating a couple eggs a day won't kill you. But, there was a time when only the evidence in prior paragraph was known. Back then, it would seem reasonable that you should try to reduce your dietary cholesterol intake.

I'm heading out, so I apologize in advance for any replies written on my phone, which fails to auto-capitalize in forms.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:03 PM
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68 -- I'm not saying that nutritionists didn't ever reach reasonable conclusions based on evidence that they had, but that we now know is wrong (sometimes they did, as you say, as in the case of sodium). My only point was that as it stands right now as science it is very weak and there is little support for the mainstream diet recommendations, which has opened the door for paleo/Gary Taubes etc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:07 PM
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Good Christ was that written badly, and I was not even on a phone. Time to eat some almonds.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:07 PM
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Time to eat some almonds.

Which it now turns out maybe aren't as calorific as previously thought! I just read an article today about how inexact the traditional measurements of calorie content are -- they would set a food on fire to calculate the calories. But then they recently did some sort of testing measuring how much of the fat in almonds passes through the body undigested, and it turns out it's a decent amount. They think this may be the case with other nuts, as well.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:21 PM
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Was the sodium conclusion wrong or did it just turn out to be only applicable to those with high blood pressure?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:26 PM
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Anyway, the main conclusion of nutritionists is "eat less" and is unchallenged as far as I know. The second one is "eat vegetables." What has opened the way for paleo and other diets isn't that the main assertions are unsupported. It's that eating less and eating mostly vegetables deeply and truly sucks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:29 PM
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47: I think the paleo crowd is strongest on "reject the Standard American Diet" and I think it's also easier for people of a certain age and metabolism to adopt, and the little caveman story helps. I personally do better on a diet with more legumes and less meat, and many more vegetables.

48: But at that level it's awfully handwavy. Evolutionarily, it seems that our species can survive on just about anything We just fail to thrive on SAD.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:37 PM
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But if you were eating paleo plus some quinoa and barley and brown rice and amaranth or whatever, would that really negate all the benefits? That seems like a pretty unsupportable claim, intuitively.

Sorry. You can't have a glycemic/glycogenic and a ketogenic metabolism at the same time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:43 PM
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But having said 75, there are obviously billions of reasonably healthy people on glycogenic diets. Just doesn't work for me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:47 PM
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That's the difference between me and Halford, I can't in good faith proselytize for ketogenic diets because...Japan!

Where they eat tons of rice and noodles, stay pretty thin, and live a long time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:51 PM
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11

It is interesting that he went to a libertarian group of lawyers, rather than the ACLU. His argument is basically about speech, not economic liberty, so the ACLU seems like a better match. Instead, he went with the Institute of Justice, which feels the need first to explain free speech in economic terms (the marketplace of ideas) and then defend it.

How do you know the ACLU didn't turn him down? Anyway I think he wants to get paid which makes it an economic case.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:53 PM
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I am sorry I have been out of the thread. The hunt-time came and it is the season's last crossing of the Plains-Beast. My atl-atl was strong but the beast was swift. It escaped me. My hunt-brothers shared some of what meat they had but it will not be enough. The plants my shelter-mate found will not last and the littlest one may well die this Winter. My abs look fantastic, however.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:54 PM
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71

That was an interesting article, but it's not really true that calorie counts are inexact. In fact, the number of calories in food is quite exactly determined. What's unclear is how much those calories get used. Of course, you cannot use more than 100% of the calories, so calorie counts do set an upper bound.

But really, Moby nailed it 73. Do any actually existing nutritionists try to justify the old food pyramid anymore?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 4:59 PM
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But . . . I like eating less and eating mostly vegetables. (Mostly.) This just confirms to me that if there were a vegan on unfogged with the proselytizing humorless vehemence of halford they would totes be banned.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 5:04 PM
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You would have to feed someone a steady diet of some food, and burn samples of it before and after. To keep it from being too monotonous, you could feed multiple people different combinations of the same food (one combination per person).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 5:14 PM
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81: If Food Not Bombs came to my house, and followed me to work, to provide me with 3 meals a day of dumpstered/scrounged vegan food of widely varying constituent ingredients, I'd probably be pretty happy to eat what they set before me, at least 95% of the time.

Alternatively, if Pizza Lucé cooks followed me around serving me a reasonably broad selection of their standard pizzas, appetizers and beers, I would be pretty happy 99.999% of the time.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 5:41 PM
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So its ok to eat a bunch of sodium now? When did this happen?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 5:51 PM
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I'm not an doctor, but I read in the newspaper that if your blood pressure is normal (normal is now lower than it used to be), sodium consumption doesn't matter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 5:55 PM
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Do any actually existing nutritionists try to justify the old food pyramid anymore?

Not the old one, I don't think, but they do argue for the calorie-is-a-calorie theory, a low fat diet, sodium reduction, cholestorol as a villain, and other unsupported nonsense.

Anyway, the main conclusion of nutritionists is "eat less" and is unchallenged as far as I know. The second one is "eat vegetables."

"Eat less" is not clear, however, without reference to what you are eating. Does this simply mean less caloric intake, regardless of the source? Or does it mean eating a more filling, nutrient-rich diet in order to satiate hunger? That's the key people for most people thinking about using diet to lose weight. I don't think anyone would dispute "eat vegetables" but, for example, do you consider corn or potatoes vegetables? These are all critical questions for people trying to figure out their diets.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:04 PM
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I'm not a doctor, but before ingestion you should mix your sodium with something like chloride.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:05 PM
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I count potatoes and potatoes as a vegetable, but I'm from Nebraska and lying to myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:10 PM
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These are all critical questions for people trying to figure out their diets.

They are not critical questions for people trying to avoid Type II diabetes and heart disease. Nutritionists (and Exercisiologists) understand pretty well how to avoid those diseases.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:11 PM
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"Eat less" is not clear, however, without reference to what you are eating.

Whatever you are eating, eat less of it and you'll be healthier. That's far more supported than the idea that any particular diet can satiate hunger to such an extent that you can lose weight on it relative to other diets.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:13 PM
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That was an interesting article, but it's not really true that calorie counts are inexact. In fact, the number of calories in food is quite exactly determined. What's unclear is how much those calories get used.

This drove me crazy about that article. Also, duh, of course there are calories in your poop. You can light it on fire, can't you? It's not water or ash. Therefore some calories are passing through you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:14 PM
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Much of the advice given by nutritionists about how to avoid heart disease over the past 30 years has been entirely wrong, as has a good deal of the advice on how to avoid diabetes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:14 PM
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You can light it on fire, can't you?*

*I have no idea.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:15 PM
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92: I assume you're talking about the advice to go as low-fat as possible? It might not be ideal advice, but if you drop your calorie intake significantly and start exercising regularly, then you've made a big dent in your heart disease and diabetes risk. And that was a major component of the recommendations for the past 30 years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:17 PM
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93: I assume so. You can burn cow shit if you wait for it to dry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:18 PM
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Are there paleo-inclined doctors who think that cardiac patients like Bill Clinton ought to be eating steak and butter etc. rather than the mostly plant-based diet he's adopted?
(I totally buy that the "cholestorol is everything!" argument is too simplistic/not the whole story, but I do not buy the "heart disease is caused by rice!" argument at all.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:18 PM
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95: I figured that if the toots are flammable, the concrete version can't be far off.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:18 PM
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Whatever you are eating, eat less of it and you'll be healthier.

That's not effective diet advice for just about anyone, and it's utterly unproven that calorie restriction alone makes you healthier unless you are obese (severely restricting calories will indeed make you thinner whatever you eat, but simple calorie restriction is enormously difficult to achieve psychologically and physiologically, making it terrible diet advice when given alone).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:18 PM
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As far as I can tell, the most important component against heart disease and diabetes is exercising, and there's a wide healthy range of diets and amount of body fat, as long you're moving regularly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:21 PM
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What is the current thinking on Oreogenic diets? (My current thinking: Crap, I should have run instead of eating the entire sleeve of Oreos.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:22 PM
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But not eating grain is easy?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:23 PM
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101 to 98.last.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:24 PM
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On the 'calories are inexact' thing -- it does seem that there's a real issue there, where setting food on fire to determine its total energy content is going to give you an upper bound to the energy you can derive from eating it, but actual foods might systematically vary in how much of that total energy content you can process. So, the calorie content of food can be exactly determined, sure, but that doesn't necessarily imply that a calorie is a calorie in terms of how much energy your body can derive from it, and the differences between calories in different types of food might be systematically important.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:25 PM
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Also, you differ in how much energy content you can process, and which foods you process more efficiently, because you have different gut bacteria than I do.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:27 PM
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103: As 82 mentioned, it is difficult to get a measure of how much energy is derived from food because you need a monotonous diet. Even then, it is quite likely that the energy you get from eating one thing by itself is different than from that thing eaten with something else (for example fiber to push stuff along). Certainly nobody is going to be able to figure it exactly for every type of food.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:28 PM
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104: That too.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:29 PM
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The thing that's odd though is:
- we can calculate how many calories people burn through activities and metabolism, etc, by looking at their VO2 output and stuff (I think?)
- we can do studies where we know exactly how much calories people are ingesting.

Therefore, if there were significant inefficiencies in calorie counting, you'd think the difference would have shown up by now in all these tons of studies.

But! If we compute metabolism by feeding people and seeing whether or not they lose, gain, or stay the same weight, then we've been incorporating the inefficiencies into our metabolic rate numbers all along.

I don't know if we do method 2 or method 1, but it's weird that we haven't done both and observed a big difference, if there is one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:29 PM
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103: Wood, for instance.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:29 PM
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107 is poorly phrased. I just think that given how often we make study participants eat just what we tell them to and measure their metabolic rate, and given that we know crap has content and therefore calories, I don't understand how this is any surprise.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:31 PM
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I do not buy the "heart disease is caused by rice!" argument at all.

I don't think there are paleo people who are saying this with much confidence -- the argument is that insulin resistance creates heart attack risk, and there is a link between grain consumption and insulin resistance. The argument is that high-fat high-cholestorol diets don't create much risk for heart attack. I am not sure on the position for people who have already had serious cardiac problems.

I can tell, the most important component against heart disease and diabetes is exercising, and there's a wide healthy range of diets and amount of body fat, as long you're moving regularly.

I don't think that's the most important component, but in any case advising someone to exercise isn't really the province of a nutritionist.

But not eating grain is easy?

Yes, it is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:32 PM
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My son has taken to licking the salt off of pretzels. When I was a kid, I used to heavily salt canned soup.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:33 PM
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I think it's very hard to do studies of literally exactly how many calories people are ingesting on a natural diet. Food diaries and such are wildly inexact, so to get an exact study, you need to lock people up with no access to food other than the precisely measured experimental diet. At which point you've got an infinite number of possible diets to study, and it's not clear to me how you'd actually pin down the as-processed-calorie contents of a particular food: it's not as if you could make people eat X calories of only ham for six months, while the people in the next lab at the same number of calories in the form of carrots, and in the next lab in the form of only olive oil, to see who gained or lost the most weight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:35 PM
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110: The argument I saw all over FB a month or so ago, made apparently by an MD, was that eating grains causes "inflammation" without said inflammation the cholesterol does not stick in your arteries but rather whisks right through.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:36 PM
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110.last: Aside from the universalizing of your own personal tastes, you also ignore that it is a physical impossibility to feed the currently existing population of the world without rice, corn, and wheat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:36 PM
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111: And then he puts them back in the bag.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:37 PM
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I don't think that's the most important component,

I was speaking as a doctor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:37 PM
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109: I don't think it's surprising that your body doesn't process all the calories in food; anyone who thought about it would figure it out immediately. But as I said in 112, I do think it's not trivial to figure out the conversion between total-calories and as-processed-calories for actual natural foods: there may not be important systematic differences, but I think it would be tough to pin down whether or not there were.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:38 PM
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113: If you can find a controlled study for that, I'd be very surprised.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:38 PM
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I think it's very hard to do studies of literally exactly how many calories people are ingesting on a natural diet.

When I was reading that exercise book, there seemed to be boatloads of studies with live-in participants on a controlled diet. More than likely these are all college students, but it did seem to be a decently common way to run a study. My conclusion was that exercise science must be a lucrative field.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:39 PM
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112: There was a doctor (from Columbia?) in the Times last month who with his partner did studies on people they admitted to the hospital and fed only on liquid nutrition. I don't recall the size of the study (studies) (although I can't imagine it was that large), but their result was that folks gained/lost the same amount of weight whether they were on a high fat/high protein diet or a low fat/high carb diet.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:39 PM
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I lost 40 pounds on Dean Ornish's diet, and kept it off for a decade. I am compelled to admit that there is a lot more to the Atkins thing than I once thought, but Ornish knows a thing or two, also.

Also: After losing discipline and adding more red meat to my diet - and gaining weight - my blood cholesterol went down a lot. I'd like to know what's up with that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:41 PM
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119, 120: Yeah, I'm being skeptical on the basis of the difficulty of studying literal ordinary food in a rigorously controlled way. I knew a guy in college who was a study subject in some study that required him to live on 'nutrition cookies' -- some kind of food-briquette that was whatever the diet they were studying. And the liquid diet sounds like the same sort of thing. But if there's anything interesting about the behavior of particular actual foodstuffs, that's going to be difficult to study in the same manner.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:45 PM
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121.1: That is basically how my parents lived while I was growing up (and still live). They are obsessed with being the same weight you were when you graduated high school, which they have achieved. (It is not my favorite thing about them.)

(True story: I was away at summer camp and my mom helpfully included a calorie-of-various-foods book in my care package.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:45 PM
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More true stories! My dad once came home from vacation and was up a pound or two. He had my mom weigh the (negligible) amount of peanut butter she puts on his morning sandwiches until the weight came off, which took about 6 months, since he was in his 60s already. (Normally she spreads the peanut butter so thin that the bread shows through. I'm not sure how you get less than that.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:48 PM
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123: My parents just sent bags of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:48 PM
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||

This crap is why I hadn't read Drum in the past. He thinks that what Reid has been doing is beyond the pale? Blogger, please.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:50 PM
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124: Quantum peanut butter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:50 PM
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123: My dad went through a phase like that -- telling everyone exactly what he weighed at any given moment and pointing out everyone else's particular problem areas. The switch over to "Eat something, you're wasting away is a little disorienting."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:54 PM
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This all seems very confusing. Having read some substantial amount on this topic, and done some reasonably controlled experiments on myself, I am willing to accept that I feel better (can do regular stuff plus daily exercise) on fewer calories if those calories are protein-heavy with some fat and fewer carbs. After the experiment, I've changed some habits to reflect the desirable balance I found for maximum satisfaction and nutrition, but, like a lot of people, I really can't care enough to be the kind of person who thinks and talks about their food and exercise all the time.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:55 PM
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113 -- the argument as I understand it is that inflammation and insulin resistance are caused by grains and that these are linked to diabetes and heart attacks. It's a theory that has some support but isn't remotely demonstrated in the way that some paleo advocates claim. But inflammation and insulin resistance are real and very serious issues; see here.

that it is a physical impossibility to feed the currently existing population of the world without rice, corn, and wheat.

That's true under current population and agricultural practices, but it doesn't tell us much about how to approach diet in rich countries with very cheap food.

120: And there's a recent study suggesting precisely that high fat diets make weight loss easier. There's plenty of evidence cutting both ways -- my understanding is that there's substantial evidence for low-carb diets providing initial weight loss benefits over other diets, but other evidence suggesting that the benefits are not demonstrated over longer periods of time.

Or, put differently, is reasonably clear that high fat diets do indeed work for weight loss for many people -- whether they are in general more or less effective than caloric restriction, high-carb diets for weight loss hasn't been conclusively demonstrated.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 6:57 PM
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that doesn't necessarily imply that a calorie is a calorie in terms of how much energy your body can derive from it

What you do is you eat only pringles and shit in a calorimeter, then subtract fecal calories from 900 x the number of pringle cans. Then do the same with other uniform, processed foods, and compare the results and fat/carb/etc content. Problem solved!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 7:05 PM
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I really can't care enough to be the kind of person who thinks and talks about their food and exercise all the time.

Believe it or not (I assume that the response here, very understandably, will be "or not"), I'm the same way. The great thing about the version of paleo that I do is that it allows me to eat foods that I like without worrying about how much I eat or anything other than following a few simple rules, while still not worrying about weight. Same for exercise -- you do CF and they tell you what to do, and you're done. But it's fun for some reason to talk about this here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 7:08 PM
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That, I can see. I don't do much in the way of controlling my diet other than vaguely trying to eat more vegetables than cookies, largely because I live in a household with other people with opinions, and trying to eat differently than Buck and the kids sounds impossibly maddening. But if I were living alone, I could see the paleo thing being pretty low-thought easy -- meat and vegetables yes, anything else no, thought process over.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 7:12 PM
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Once everybody gets reasonable, it goes quiet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 7:35 PM
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Kevin Drum pulled me from a burning building using only his bare hands and a pile of wheat that he stopped Reid from smuggling to North Korea in exchange for the money to start an unlicensed CrossFit knock-off gym called CrassFat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 7:39 PM
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There is a cross fit gym opposite my old high school now. It is a light industrial area, and there is also an evangelical church and a much older boxing gym. The cross fit gym is all open and see-into-able, and it weirds me out.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:41 PM
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There is an auto parts store where the Blockbuster and Payless Shoe Source used to be, down the street from me. You can see right into the employee break room, through several of the big plate-glass windows, and the breakroom has one wall which is the back of racks of shelving for merchandise. It's sort of unseemly, in an obscure way. Like some kind of panopticon-ourobouros.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 9:51 PM
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For me, at least, diets with solid rules like 'exclude this type of food' are far easier than portion control. I find it easier to do my thinking in advance and stick to it than to make constant decisions about how much to eat.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-12 10:18 PM
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A few years ago, when Atkins was all the rage, one of the UK TV science documentary strands did a show or two on nutrition, and there was a fair bit of discussion of various controlled intake diets, including one that used twin studies. My recollection was that the outcome (crudely summarised) was that a calorie _was_ more or less a calorie, in terms of weight loss and weight gained, when the calorie intake was controlled by the experimenters. But that higher protein, lower GI diets, did (when calorie intakes were allowed to float) cause people to consume less as they felt full quicker.

My own personal experience is that I find low carb diets almost impossible to stick to, and while I like meat, I don't like it enough to go full cultist [even if I believed in the full-cultist position, which I don't]. Eating less pasta, white rice, and bread is a no-brainer, though, if I want to lose weight.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 12:31 AM
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that a calorie _was_ more or less a calorie, in terms of weight loss and weight gained, when the calorie intake was controlled by the experimenters

Exactly. God those studies are not useful. "Here's how a calorie is a calorie in conditions under which no normal human will ever find themselves." Thanks dickheads, that's real useful.

I've never been big on refined carbs and sugar (man do I owe dad on that score for never buying white bread, soda, etc.). I've had to be a bit more careful on that stufff though as I've hid mid 30's. More veggies and fish seem to help on that front. Possibly more care is needed because increased income and bringing the wife over to atheism means I'm drinking a lot more than I was in my 20's. I also continue to not be able to control myself very well around ice cream, so having that around the house ona regular basis is a no go if I want to keep my body fat down. My teenage daughters are not helpful with my diet. "The brownies will last longer if we make a double batch..." Come on fuckers, I'm not made of stone. Do dad a favor and don't do that so much.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 12:51 AM
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This crap is why I hadn't read Drum in the past. He thinks that what Reid has been doing is beyond the pale? Blogger, please.

I don't think it's beyond the pale, in the grand scheme of things. I do think it's stupid. "Some guy told me he didn't pay any taxes"? Well whoop-de-do, Harry. Three people know how much tax Romney paid. Romney, his accountant, and the IRS. Maybe his wife. Is it one of those? No.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 12:52 AM
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I do think it's stupid. "Some guy told me he didn't pay any taxes"? Well whoop-de-do, Harry.

I think this is missing the point. It's not an intellectual debate, it's about perpetuating a narrative painting Romney as a tax dodging outsourcing Gordon Gecko type and these accusations accomplish that.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 1:02 AM
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re: 140.1

Yes, but the studies did establish that claims being widely made at the time for high-protein/high-fat diets, vis that you'd lose weight for the same measured calorie intake [due to the magic of teh ketones, or whatever] were false. Which isn't entirely useless.*

* N.B.: ketogenic diet zealots: I'm not making these claims, I'm reporting someone else's making them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 1:23 AM
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I think this is missing the point. It's not an intellectual debate, it's about perpetuating a narrative painting Romney as a tax dodging outsourcing Gordon Gecko type and these accusations accomplish that.

Sure. It's evidence free mudslinging, which is pretty standard in politics. And it should be judged on those terms. Like I say, in this instance, not beyond the pale, but pretty stupid. Most American political discourse is pretty stupid. Doesn't mean I'm going to cheer Reid for engaging in it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 1:57 AM
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Well, it's not just evidence free mudslinging, it's pressure to go ahead and produce some ev


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 3:37 AM
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(hit post accidentally) evidence. Romney can show up Reid as either a liar or at least a blowhard at will if he's willing to expose what's in his tax returns -- a now-conventional level o disclosure.

The kind of mudslinging that can't be refuted is really lousy -- this is pressure to do something that's reasonable in itself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 3:41 AM
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it's pressure to go ahead and produce some ev

Tell me about it.


Posted by: OPINIONATED LARGE HADRON COLLIDER | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:17 AM
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141

I don't think it's beyond the pale, in the grand scheme of things. I do think it's stupid. "Some guy told me he didn't pay any taxes"? Well whoop-de-do, Harry. Three people know how much tax Romney paid. Romney, his accountant, and the IRS. Maybe his wife. Is it one of those? No.

I would guess it is quite a bit more than 3. Structuring his income to minimize his taxes would require the cooperation of the other top people at Bain.

And Romney supposedly provided the McCain campaign with his returns when he was being vetted for VP in 2008.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:18 AM
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146

... a now-conventional level o disclosure.

For Presidential candidates. Most members of Congress (including Reid) don't release their returns.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:20 AM
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I'd forgotten about the McCain vetting thing, so that makes four people. Sure managing his tax exposure required the cooperation of people at Bain, but that doesn't mean they know how much tax he paid over 10 years - he had other non-Bain income, for a start.

Anyway, the point is this, that multiple years of tax returns is a "now-conventional level of disclosure", regardless of what Reid says some guy at Bain says. The Romney camp has come out and said in as many words that disclosure would be more harmful than flouting the convention. We already know there's something to hide, politically speaking. It seems stupid to me, in that context, to throw around hearsay ostensibly from someone who wouldn't be in a position to know anyway.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:45 AM
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Sure. Romney is a presidential candidate, though.

I do think Reid is probably either lying or equivocating on the meaning of 'credible' -- possibly someone told him that Romney didn't pay income taxes for ten years, but I doubt it was someone convincingly enough in a position to know the truth that Reid would have relied on it under other circumstances. Given that any dishonesty is in service of pressuring Romney to match, rather than surpassing, Obama's and other Presidential candidates' levels of disclosure, it seems like a fair tactic to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:46 AM
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It seems stupid to me, in that context, to throw around hearsay ostensibly from someone who wouldn't be in a position to know anyway.

Stupid? Jerky and dishonest, sure, but it seems smart enough to me. The point is that it keeps them on the defensive and provides additional opportunities to remind the electorate that there is something they want to hide (even though it's surely not that).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:51 AM
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It seems stupid to me, in that context, to throw around hearsay ostensibly from someone who wouldn't be in a position to know anyway.

Stupid tactically, or immoral? Tactically, I think it works great: "You can't call your opponent a pigfucker, no one's going to believe it!" "Sure. I just want to make him deny it."

Morally, given that it doesn't intrude unreasonably on Romney's privacy or slander him in a way he's unable to conclusively refute, it's certainly ungentlemanly if Reid's lying, but I don't care much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:52 AM
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it's certainly ungentlemanly if Reid's lying, but I don't care much.

Indeed.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:57 AM
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Drum has retreated a bit linking to a TPM post.

In brief the theory is that when Romney was bought out of Bain a lot of his shares were in his IRA. This would not be currently taxable income and would explain why there is so much money in his IRA. Naturally people at Bain would know this. Of course eight years of low income taxes is not quite the same thing as ten years of no income taxes but perhaps is close enough for politics. Btw I had also noticed Romney's weasel words regarding paying a lot in taxes versus paying a lot in income taxes.

Speaking of disclosure, I would like to see Obama's school transcripts.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:07 AM
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153

Morally, given that it doesn't intrude unreasonably on Romney's privacy ...

This argument would be stronger if Reid was willing to release his own returns.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:09 AM
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Reid's not running for president.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:25 AM
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I would like to see Obama's school transcripts

Are you interviewing him for his first job after graduation? Deciding whether or not to accept him into your graduate school? No? Seriously, why would any political candidate's school transcripts be remotely interesting?

"Ooh, look, he got a B- in Intro Psychology! That clearly means he lacks empathy with the plight of the common man!"


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:31 AM
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why would any political candidate's school transcripts be remotely interesting?

If W's were littered with Fs, I would have relished it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:33 AM
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157

Reid's not running for president.

So what? He is an important political figure and the arguments for releasing the returns of Presidential candidates also apply to him. Why is it "reasonable" to demand Presidential candidates release returns but not Senate or House candidates? Just because of recent practice?

Anyway in purely practical terms it is an obvious retort which Reid could defuse by releasing his returns.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:35 AM
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If Obama's were littered with Fs I would relish it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:35 AM
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159: would never have happened, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:36 AM
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Romney supposedly provided the McCain campaign with his returns when he was being vetted for VP in 2008

And would you notice who *hasn't* come out and said Harry Reid is lying? John McCain. I'm glad Reid is doing this. You know full well that if Romney was a Democrat, the entire GOP along with all of the media would be popping arteries over it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:37 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:38 AM
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Three people know how much tax Romney paid. Romney, his accountant, and the IRS. Maybe his wife.

Presumably there's also the guys Romney was bragging to as he was taking them for a swim in his money bin.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:39 AM
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I personally think it's swell. Also, I think it's probably true.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:40 AM
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Yeah. And really, its irresponsible not to speculate.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:42 AM
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McCain looked at Romney's taxes and picked Palin for VP. There's clearly something horrible in those returns.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 5:53 AM
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168. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. McCain looked at a ton of people's returns.

He judged, wrongly, that a superficially attractive Pentecostalist would be more electable than a Mormon clone of R2D2. No reason to suppose taxes were a big thing in that decision.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:14 AM
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He is an important political figure and the arguments for releasing the returns of Presidential candidates also apply to him.

Every other Senator and Senate candidate has done so for decades? I don't think so.

Mind you, I think it'd be a fine thing if they did, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect Reid to do so if nobody expects his opponents to. I will say, though, that it's fair game if someone wants to speculate about the contents of Reid's returns.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:16 AM
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I think I figured it out. McCain told Reid that Romney didn't pay any federal income taxes.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:17 AM
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a Mormon clone of R2D2

ROM-NEE SPACE KNIGHT DOES NOT RELEASE YOUR HUMAN 'TAX RETURNS'


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:18 AM
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Speaking of disclosure, I would like to see Obama's school transcripts.

Certainly Obama's failure to release those transcripts has created an opportunity for speculation about what's in them. Knock yourself out.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:19 AM
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156, 160: Has anyone said it's unreasonable to demand Reid's returns? Anyone who wants to demand Reid's returns can -- he's a public figure and should expect a certain amount of scrutiny. And if someone demands them and he doesn't make them public, complaining about speculation about their contents wouldn't be particularly sympathetic, and any political damage Reid took from such speculation would be his problem. But AFIAK, none of that has happened on any meaningful level, and whether or not it had happened, it wouldn't have much to do with the rights or wrongs of Romney's returns.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:20 AM
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170

Mind you, I think it'd be a fine thing if they did, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect Reid to do so if nobody expects his opponents to ...

I think it is reasonable to bring it up if Reid is going to complain about other people not disclosing their returns. And someone has to be first if you are going to establish a new norm and Reid is an obvious place to start.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:26 AM
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I don't think it's beyond the pale, in the grand scheme of things. I do think it's stupid. "Some guy told me he didn't pay any taxes"? Well whoop-de-do, Harry.

Whoop-do-do indeed. This issue has gotten a lot of attention because of Reid.

We live in the U.S. - a stupid country. The fact that Reid recognizes this and is willing to act on it makes him smart.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:27 AM
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174 to 175.

Also 173.last to 175: Knock yourself out.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:28 AM
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What's more, way more of Reid's finances are already public than can be said for Romney.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:30 AM
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173

Certainly Obama's failure to release those transcripts has created an opportunity for speculation about what's in them. Knock yourself out

Plenty of people already are but random cranks on the internet don't have the same power to push things into the news as the Senate majority leader.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:35 AM
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And if a Republican politician thought they'd get political points by demanding Obama's transcripts rather than just looking like an ass, they'd be right on the bandwagon with you. None of this has anything to do with the rights or wrongs of what Reid said about Romney.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:37 AM
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177

I am not that interested in Reid but there is some reason he isn't releasing his returns, perhaps he just doesn't want to irritate his fellow Senators.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:38 AM
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Why Quayle was vetted, Lee Atwater got a big bundle of cash from the ATM because Quayle included his PIN.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:38 AM
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With toothy grin!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:38 AM
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perhaps he just doesn't want to irritate his fellow Senators

I think you've got that precisely backwards. He's relishing the irritation he's causing, as are we all.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:41 AM
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Man, this is a stupid country. The voter suppression amendment here is still polling 58% in favor, despite every DFLer and civil society org coming out against it. What the fuck is wrong with people?

I decided to sit out the election judging this year. Just couldn't force myself to do it again, especially since my polling place is in an un-air conditioned school, and our primary got bumped back because of the goddamn whiny soldiers. Also, I cannot fucking stand the old people who refuse to follow instructions. Basically, I like old people just fine, but having to watch them fuck things up for 12 hours because they won't do what they're trained, and trained, and trained to do is so infuriating that I wind up hating all old people for weeks after the election.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:43 AM
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180

And if a Republican politician thought they'd get political points by demanding Obama's transcripts rather than just looking like an ass, they'd be right on the bandwagon with you. None of this has anything to do with the rights or wrongs of what Reid said about Romney.

Reid's actions and how people react to them may change the calculations of Republican politicians about this sort of thing going forward. Which might suggest caution in supporting Reid even if the immediate short term political effects are positive from your point of view.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:43 AM
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It seems like anyone who pays attention to the news at all knows that a primary plank of the Republican party platform is that rich people should pay the smallest amount of tax possible. Romney is rich. So why should it be problematic for his potential voters that he pays almost no tax? It's almost as if the entire Republic platform is out of step with what people actually want. But the news coverage continues to be about back-and-forth and personalities and not the overarching issue that Americans aren't comfortable with what Republican policies can lead to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:43 AM
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-an


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:44 AM
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Or is the syntax '+an'? God, I'm not spending enough time here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:44 AM
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185: I once took a voting booth out of commission by somehow starting the talking ballot for the blind.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:46 AM
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All the old people (i.e. the election workers) were glaring at me for messing up their lovely new touch-screen machines that had a talking ballot that was completely useless because not one of them had any ear phones or speakers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:49 AM
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And if a Republican politician thought they'd get political points by demanding Obama's transcripts rather than just looking like an ass, they'd be right on the bandwagon with you.

So far, the Republican politicians have opted for birth certificate speculation, rather than the transcript thing. It's far more interesting to speculate that your opponent was born in Kenya than it is to speculate that he got a C- in Econ 101. Which I would totally believe, by the way.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:49 AM
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184

I think you've got that precisely backwards. He's relishing the irritation he's causing, as are we all.

His fellow Senators probably don't mind him attacking Romney (bearing in mind that most probably think they would make a better President) but they might be irritated if as part of that attack Reid released his own returns along with some statement about how only bad people have things to hide in their returns.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:52 AM
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187

It seems like anyone who pays attention to the news at all knows that a primary plank of the Republican party platform is that rich people should pay the smallest amount of tax possible. Romney is rich. So why should it be problematic for his potential voters that he pays almost no tax? ...

It's problematic because the actual plank is that rich people pay too much in taxes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:54 AM
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Reid's actions and how people react to them may change the calculations of Republican politicians about this sort of thing going forward.

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like if the Republicans abandoned restraint. Would they start demanding Obama's birth certificate, or talking about a Muslim conspiracy to subvert the American government?

Oh - you've already said - they'd demand Obama's college transcript. I say again to these unrestrained Republicans: Knock yourselves out.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:55 AM
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192

So far, the Republican politicians have opted for birth certificate speculation, rather than the transcript thing. ...

The birth certificate stuff was more from cranks than important Republican politicians. And it did eventually get Obama to release his birth certificate.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:56 AM
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Reid's actions and how people react to them may change the calculations of Republican politicians about this sort of thing going forward.

You're suggesting that it's possible that Republican politicians might be encouraged to engage in irresponsible, fact-free speculation about possible embarrassing secrets in the background of Democratic politicians? Surely the sky would fall if such a terrible thing should happen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:57 AM
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Loony Republicans get to speculate about Kenya, while the more subtle, respectable racists of the Shearer sort keep bringing up school transcripts to stoke racial resentment over affirmative action.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:58 AM
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Reid isn't going to become president, doesn't have a long history in one of the shadier corners of the finance industry, and isn't known to have at least $21 million socked away in a tax-sheltered retirement account, plus more moneys offshore. So I don't actually give a shit about his returns - I suspect they would be rather boring.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 6:59 AM
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Romney's tax returns and personal finances are interesting because he is a creature from the financial markets, and his returns will show the clever dodges that super-wealthy people use. IMO, whether he has $10M or $200M and whether he paid 15% or 22% on income the year before last is not that important.

The main problem with Romney, aside from his being terrible for the environment, foreign policy, and civil rights, is that he is a banker. Unregulated financial markets caused the housing crash and are largely responsible for this recession. Obama is too close to the bankers already, Romney is actually their puppet. The tax returns are a proxy for talking about the real problem, which is that Romney wants investment banks to have still more power rather than maintaining status quo or less.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:00 AM
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fact-free speculation about possible embarrassing secrets in the background of Democratic politicians?

They first did research to see if people were born in Kenya. Only after that did they decide to see if Obama was born in Kenya.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:00 AM
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The birth certificate stuff was more from cranks than important Republican politicians.

Michelle Bachmann: crank, important Republican politician, both, or neither?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:04 AM
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202

Michelle Bachmann: crank, important Republican politician, both, or neither?

Mostly crank which is why her Presidential campaign went down in flames.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:08 AM
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So the only important Republican politicians are those who have run successful presidential campaigns?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:10 AM
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It's Bachmann in Congress or something?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:12 AM
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Mostly crank which is why her Presidential campaign went down in flames she is a member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:12 AM
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No True Important Republican...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:13 AM
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Seriously (silly though saying 'seriously' is in this context), you're making a no-true-Scotsman argument. No serious Republican politician is a birther, because being a birther marks you as unserious. This is perfectly true, but it's true because birtherism is ridiculous -- serious Republicans haven't resisted birtherism because they're just better than that, they've resisted it because they don't want to look like fools, and the ones who haven't resisted it do look like fools.

Reid's statements about Romney don't make him look like a fool, because it's completely plausible that there's a real embarrassing secret in Romney's returns, even if it's not what Reid says he's been told it is. And if any Republican got an idea about a similarly plausible embarrassing secret that applied to a Democratic politician, they'd be on it like white on rice -- they don't need Reid's example to give them permission.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:16 AM
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Damn. Tweety-pwned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:16 AM
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I wish that, whatever embarrassments lurk in Romney's tax returns, it were similarly politically embarrassing that Exxon Mobil paid only a 2% tax rate last year. But few Democrats seem eager to push the message that corporate tax rates are too low.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:19 AM
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Mostly crank which is why her Presidential campaign went down in flames she spent time leading the polls for the Republican nomination.

See also: Kane, Herman and Trump, Donald


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:20 AM
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Democrats have to use the same tactics that we criticize the Republicans for using because otherwise the Democrats will lose.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:23 AM
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I don't think it will work if the Democrats try to indirectly remind voters that Romney is a black guy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:25 AM
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Democrats have to use the same tactics that we criticize the Republicans for using because otherwise the Democrats will lose.

Rhetorically, perhaps. But if the Democrats start caging voters, I'll be pissed.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:25 AM
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211: And Newt "Kenyan, anti-colonial" Gingrich.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:26 AM
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210 makes a good point.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:26 AM
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200 gets it right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:28 AM
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||
"You really want to be paleo? Then don't buy anything from a store. Gather and kill what you need to eat. Wild grasses and tubers, acorns, gophers, crickets- They all provide a lot of nutrition. You'll spend a lot of energy gathering the stuff, of course, and you're going to be hungry, but that'll help you maintain that lean physique you're after. And hunting down the neighbor's cats for dinner because you've already eaten your way through the local squirrel population will probably give you all the exercise you'll ever need."
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:36 AM
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And hunting down the neighbor's cats for dinner...

Using a Q-tip as bait.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:41 AM
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"They'll back right into this and then I'll have 'em!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:42 AM
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Further to 200, the main Republican argument in favor of low taxes on the ultra rich is that they are Job Creators, and higher taxes on them would leave them with less after-tax income for job creation. If Romney releases his tax returns, they will show that he paid a laughably tiny percent in income taxes (it doesn't really matter if it's 10% or 2% or 0.001%.) So why hasn't he been creating jobs left-and-right? Would increasing his marginal tax rates lead to him creating fewer jobs than he does now?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:44 AM
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A happy cat makes the best dinner.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:45 AM
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221: Aren't there lots of people working on his campaign?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:49 AM
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219: When that came up, did anyone make the obligatory "just the tip" joke? 'Cause if not, I claim it retroactively.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:52 AM
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Democrats have to use the same tactics that we criticize the Republicans for using because otherwise the Democrats will lose.

I don't get the equivalence here. If Reid were saying that Mitt's tax returns show illicit payments to bin Laden, and if Reid said that after Romney released his returns, then that would be an example of be using reprehensible Republican tactics.

I'd have mixed feelings about that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 7:56 AM
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I'm pretty pissed at Obama right now for going after Romney for being anti-coal. That's Republican tactics I could do without.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:15 AM
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225 - Further, there's an established norm that presidential candidates release multiple years of tax documents, dating from George Romney (who was a wealthy auto executive before he entered politics) and his abortive run in 1968. There was no established norm that presidential candidates release their birth certificate. If Obama's surrogates were demanding to look at something like Romney's communications as stake president, that'd be a lot closer to an equivalent situation.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:19 AM
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Obama is probably trying to go after swing voters in some state that I can't think of right now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:20 AM
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228 to 226.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:20 AM
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Its being broadcast in Ohio.

Its rather amazing how climate change is playing no role in this election. If and when Obama gets reelected, he'll have no mandate to do anything about it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:25 AM
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230: Amazing, predictable, to-may-to, to-mah-to...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:27 AM
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In case my earlier comments weren't clear, I absolutely think Democrats should be hammering Romney on his tax returns, and feeding it into wider narratives about Romney creating more jobs in the Cayman Islands than America, or whatever. My issue is merely with the way Reid chose to do the hammering, because it's so lame. The tax returns are a wide open goal for Democrats and he hit the post.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:29 AM
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My issue is merely with the way Reid chose to do the hammering, because it's so lame. The tax returns are a wide open goal for Democrats and he hit the post.

What do you see as a tactically preferable mode of attack?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:31 AM
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230: The Obama team has nothing to gain by bringing up the issue of climate change. Supporters of action to combat climate change are bitter that he hasn't done more already on this front and would regard as empty promises any pledges to do more in the second term, and his opponents would just chant their "Solyndra!" mantra over and over, and the swing voters just don't care about the issue, at least not while the economy is still in the tank.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:35 AM
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As noted above:

As the controversy over Mitt Romney's tax returns continues, the one person other than Romney himself who could settle this has been completely silent. That would be Sen. John McCain, who inspected 23 years of Romney's tax returns in 2008 when he was considering Romney as a possible running mate. All he would have to do is hold a press conference and say: "Harry Reid is wrong. I personally saw Romney's tax returns going back over two decades and he paid federal income tax every year." But McCain has said nothing at all at a moment he could help Romney and hurt Reid. Why? It seems very strange. Maybe Reid is right and McCain knows this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:36 AM
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I'm mystified as to the political downsides of Reid's statements. Do you think that making Reid a focal point of Republican (and reasonable centrist) attacks outweighs the fact that everyone is talking about Romney's taxes?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:37 AM
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218: "I'm just a caveman. Your 'blogs' frighten and confuse me, but I know one thing: I oppose the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. It's wrong for America. wrong for our hardworking seniors and wrong for the middle class that just wants their children to be more obese and sedentary than they are. That's why I voted against the trans fats tax hike and why I oppose Obamacare: if you can't afford medical insurance, I don't want you coming into my yard looking for yucca leaves to plait a rope to tourniquet your spurting femoral artery."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:37 AM
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234: Obama also needs votes in coal producing states. No point pissing off potential voters if you don't have to.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:37 AM
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238: No point in actually ever trying to do anything about global warming either! It's a win-win!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:38 AM
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Who was the Senator most responsible for killing Clinton's proposed BTU tax?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:40 AM
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235: I'd guess that a (former) McCain staffer was the most probable source of the rumors, but I don't think you need to read anything extra into McCain not talking. I assume he was given the returns under a promise of confidentiality and would keep that promise unless Romney said otherwise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:42 AM
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240: Shaft!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:43 AM
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Out of morbid curiousity, does anyone know if there has been much coverage in the mainstream press of the heatwave in relation to global warming? My guess is that any mention of it would have to be soft-pedaled to avoid giving the appearance of a bias towards reality.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:43 AM
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Never mind. It doesn't scan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:44 AM
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I don't think it's surprising that your body doesn't process all the calories in food; anyone who thought about it would figure it out immediately.

I have to admit that this had never occurred to me before today. But then I am not a doctor.

(I'm still on the first half of this thread, obvs.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:48 AM
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245: The Olestra-fecal leakage connection is a good way to make it a concrete image for ease of memory.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:51 AM
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My parents just sent bags of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.

I heart oudemia's parents. (Goldenberg's Peanut Chews are really hard to find here, by the way. It's upsetting.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:53 AM
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Swing voters don't care about climate change because its clear that no-one in the government cares about it either. For that, Obama is squarely to blame. Dude wouldn't even mention it in his State of the Union addresses.

Postulate another universe where Obama had made this a consistent, even if secondary, issue. He could say "Hey, how about this big fucking drought we are having? Want more of that? Vote for Romney."

Instead, apparently the only long-term issue we must save our children from is the deficit.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:53 AM
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248: Blaming Obama squarely seems a bit much. It isn't like other elected Democratic officials (outside of a few areas where Republicans don't compete) did much before Obama was elected.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:58 AM
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248: I disagree--swing voters don't care about climate change because they're not certain it even exists. For that, politically- and religiously-motivated climate deniers are mostly to blame, and most of the rest of the blame lies with "views differ on the shape of the earth"-style news reporting.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:01 AM
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Additionally, it's been scientifically proven that presidents can't change public opinion, so, you know, why try?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:01 AM
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I prefer to blame Obama obliquely.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:01 AM
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Nancy Pelosi managed to get Cap'n Trade passed through the house. Cap'n Trade sucks, but at least its something, and it represented genuine political fortitude on behalf of the Democratic house members who voted for it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:03 AM
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Fine. I'll blame Obama 112 degrees (1.954 rad).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:09 AM
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It came to me in a dream last night that houses are the protein shells for the human virus.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:10 AM
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I was actually planning to bring this up: Study Finds More of Earth Is Hotter and Says Global Warming Is at Work

(I used a FB link, so hopefully that gets around the paywall.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:10 AM
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swing voters don't care about climate change because they're not certain it even exists.

They were far more certain of it 4 years ago than they are now. The denialist campaign has had a strong 4 years, partly because the President wasn't even willing to push back. After all, if global warming existed, surely the President would be trying to do something about it, right?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:11 AM
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256: NOT SO FAST! THE JURY IS STILL OUT!


Posted by: OPINIONATED WAPO | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:14 AM
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202: I know other states have stupid, obnoxious and fascistic congresspeople, but Jesus: What the fuck is wrong with our 6th District? It's a two Americas problem, that's for sure. Nobody here in the cities has a clue why Bachmann continues to draw votes. As bad as the state Republican party is, she's significantly to the right of most of it. It's just weird.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:15 AM
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255: This gives the idea of living in Los Angeles a whole other level of weirdness--on top of the already significant level of weirdness associated with LA.


Posted by: extexan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:16 AM
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I'm mystified as to the political downsides of Reid's statements. Do you think that making Reid a focal point of Republican (and reasonable centrist) attacks outweighs the fact that everyone is talking about Romney's taxes?

Assuming this is addressed to me (if not, apologies for the presumption), I'm not so much worried about the political downside. I just don't like the Senate majority leader of "my" party doing evidence free mudslinging. That said, if pushed I would buy the outweighing thing, since people were talking about Romney's taxes anyway before Reid. Hell, you had senior Republicans telling Romney to disclose before Reid's comment. I'll grant it wasn't as high volume as it is now, but there's been a steady drumbeat for ages.

I'd guess that a (former) McCain staffer was the most probable source of the rumors,

Reid claims it's a "Bain investor". Doesn't preclude it also being a McCain staffer, I suppose, but it would be quite a coincidence.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:18 AM
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261.last: I hadn't read that. Thanks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:19 AM
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My only concern with the Reid story is that, right now, more people are talking about Reid's mudslinging than Romney's taxes.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:22 AM
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Nancy Pelosi managed to get Cap'n Trade passed through the house.

And Obama would have been happy to sign it into law had it not been filibustered in the Senate. But that's Obama's fault?

Look, I agree with you on the substance of climate change, and I also wish Obama were more passionate on the issue. But I don't buy the whole "if only the president would talk clearly and directly to the American people about this important issue, they would surely see the merit in his argument and offer him their support" line of reasoning, because that approach hasn't worked with any other issue he's tried it on. The majority of people oppose the Affordable Care Act, even though they don't know what it is and like the individual components of it when asked about them. Do they oppose it because Obama failed to advocate for it forcefully enough?

Am I giving Obama a pass on this? Yeah, probably. But insofar as the U.S. is a democracy, it is getting the government it deserves, good and hard.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:49 AM
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The majority of people oppose the Affordable Care Act, even though they don't know what it is and like the individual components of it when asked about them. Do they oppose it because Obama failed to advocate for it forcefully enough?

As a counter example, when Obama flipped on gay marriage, a lot of people flipped with him.

In the case of climate change, I don't think the strategy of not talking about it at all has been particularly effective. Instead, he could have shown some, I don't know, leadership.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:10 AM
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As a counter example, when Obama flipped on gay marriage, a lot of people flipped with him.

Really? I hadn't heard one way or the other.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:15 AM
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Really? I hadn't heard one way or the other.

I thought that, specifically, (some number of) African-American voters flipped on the issue.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:20 AM
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There is no good reason I can see why the tax returns of politicians should be legally protected from public disclosure. Running for President should simply waive your right of confidentiality in that regard.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:22 AM
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That combination of a distinct block of voters who are strongly committed to a specific party, but out of sync with the majority of the party on a significant social issue seems pretty specific and not like it generalizes well.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:23 AM
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267: This is what I had heard as well--people who were already strong Obama supporters who shifted their views on this issue along with the president.

Conversely, I don't get the sense that there are many strong Obama supporters who are on the fence about climate change and are waiting for him to make up his mind.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:27 AM
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"if only the president would talk clearly and directly to the American people about this important issue, they would surely see the merit in his argument and offer him their support"
See, I was going to suggest the Democrats, starting with the president, mount a decades long PR campaign aimed at convincing the American people that the single most pressing issue we face is, in fact, real, and needs addressing with some urgency. But feel free to pretend that the only alternative to inactivity is a few speeches.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:30 AM
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That combination of a distinct block of voters who are strongly committed to a specific party, but out of sync with the majority of the party on a significant . . . issue seems pretty specific and not like it generalizes well.

It could generalize to global waraming, another issue on which many less-well educated Democrats did not have strong feelings.



Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:30 AM
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That bit of rudeness in 271 was me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:32 AM
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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/black-voters-evolving-on-marriage-equality/257646/


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:32 AM
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Conversely, I don't get the sense that there are many strong Obama supporters who are on the fence about climate change and are waiting for him to make up his mind.

Instead, we have a case where we have strong supporters of the President who think its ok for him to attack Romney for criticizing a coal plant that was killing people.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:35 AM
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While I generally don't buy into bully pulpit arguments (the evidence seems to suggest that what happens is that an issue polarizes), the case of gay marriage -- where a large group of pro-Obama voters were softly opposed -- does present a counterpoint. But is that really the case for climate change? Are ancestrally Democratic coal miners or pro-choice suburbanites going to change their minds on the issue if national Democrats speak up? If so, yes, Obama should be hollering about it.

I think the single biggest failure after the basically unrestrained amounts of money Exxon and the Kochs can pour into lobbying is the media's continual hemming and hawing, which is finally starting to break down. (I saw an actual good story on Richard Muller's abandonment of the denialist stance in the Times, I think.) I suspect all that's going to happen is that people will start accepting the truth right around the time for a switch from "the earth is warming but it's not people's fault" (or possibly "the earth is warming but it's too expensive to fix") to "this is the fault of liberals for not warning us sooner", but maybe I'll be proved wrong. Not in time to save Tuvalu or anything, but hey, who cares about Tuvalu?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:42 AM
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And no, Obama should shut up about the coal plant. He's not going to trick anyone into thinking that Democrats are better than Republicans on this issue, and to the extent that he's not lying about the administration being weak on carbon, it's disgusting and wrong. Coal is the enemy of the human race.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:43 AM
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See, I was going to suggest the Democrats, starting with the president, mount a decades long PR campaign aimed at convincing the American people that the single most pressing issue we face is, in fact, real, and needs addressing with some urgency. But feel free to pretend that the only alternative to inactivity is a few speeches.

Two comments: (1) If you want a decade long PR campaign you probably don't want current politicians to be running it, they just don't have the time or attention for a project of that time-scale.

I thought Al Gore has been trying this and found that it was a difficult slog indeed -- that it was not easy, to say the least, to craft a campaign which would actually change people's opinions.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:48 AM
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There should be a "(2)" before 278.2


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:48 AM
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Instead, we have a case where we have strong supporters of the President who think its ok for him to attack Romney for criticizing a coal plant that was killing people.

Touché.

I guess that I'm becoming more and more cynical, and as such I will always advocate for the lesser of two evils. Most days my view of politics is encapsulated perfectly by Woody Allens memorable words: "More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:49 AM
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I've basically come to the conclusion that we aren't going to do shit until its too late, and, even then, we still probably aren't going to do shit. I have a lot of anger about this.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:54 AM
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I thought Al Gore has been trying this and found that it was a difficult slog indeed -- that it was not easy, to say the least, to craft a campaign which would actually change people's opinions
It may not be easy, but the other side has certainly managed to shift public opinion their way in the face of mounting evidence. And Al Gore is one Democrat.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:56 AM
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281: I agree completely! Comity!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:56 AM
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Of course, 280 and 281 are right, so it's probably for the best that Obama concentrate on making sure the deck chairs are just so.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:57 AM
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See, I was going to suggest the Democrats, starting with the president, mount a decades long PR campaign . . .

I've recommended it before, but I'm getting much of my perspective on that question from The Climate War. It is both depressing, in that we seem so far away from taking significant action, and makes clear, for legislation to pass, how many different groups need to line up in support, and how difficult it is.

It is about the politics of Climate Change since the 80s, rather than the science, and was more interesting than I expected (but, again, not exactly encouraging).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:57 AM
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And Al Gore is one Democrat.

Also, too: he's fat!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 10:59 AM
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It may not be easy, but the other side has certainly managed to shift public opinion their way in the face of mounting evidence.

Only in the US. (I don't have a link, but I remember reading an article claiming that, unlike the Republican party, most European conservative parties do not treat climate-change denialism as a legitimate position -- they may try to delay legislation to address it, but not because they're arguing that climate change isn't happening).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:01 AM
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You know who's managed to pull off an effective decades-long PR campaign, at all levels of government, from Presidents down to citizen-folk?

The gun lobby.

How the hell did they do that?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:02 AM
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So, a few theses on Obama and climate change:

a) Climate change isn't Obama's thing, and he has a long history of excessively pro-coal statements. There was bad stuff about "clean coal" in 2008 and throughout his Senate career. He is personally nowhere in the realm of Al Gore, or even the Clintons, on this issue -- it's not his thing.

b) Having said (a), the EPA is, in fact, right now regulating carbon and imposing rules that would severely limit coal-fired power plants. Obama is already pretty close to the limit of what a Democratic president can do independently without Congress. That the administration hasn't publicly trumpted this as a cornerstone of their campaign is a political decision, but this is an issue where the real consequences are in the actual regulations, not the rhetoric, and its hard to fault the administration too much there (I'm not saying what the EPA is doing is perfect, but its pretty good).

c) It is absolutely not Obama's fault that Pelosi's climate change bill didn't pass the Senate. If anything could have passed, it was Barbara Boxer and Max Baucus' fault for not putting something quickly together, and bully pulpit speeches from Obama would have done nothing. But the more realistic view is that nothing on this issue could have passed the Senate, full stop.

d) There is currently a decades long effort, endorsed by most if not all of the Democratic party, to get people to care about climate change. Speeches from Obama won't do much in this regard, particularly as he is already on record as favoring carbon reduction. And a decades-long effort doesn't tell you much about the right strategy for winning swing voters in Southern Ohio.

e) The real action in this issue is in the states. Where I live, in California, we are imposing cap and trade right now, and the same will likely shortly be true where many of you live. The combination of state by state cap and trade and federal restrictions on the worst polluters (e.g. carbon fired power plants) isn't perfect, but it is a real road forward, and one that can go forward even given deadlock in Congress. Looking to the President or even the federal government alone is a mistake. It's not true that "we" are doing "nothing."

f) All that said, the Obama campaign probably shouldn't be running that ad.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:06 AM
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how many different groups need to line up in support

I don't remember now where I read it, but somebody recently made the observation that if you were trying to craft a nearly unsolvable problem for a Model United Nations conference, climate change would be exactly the sort of situation you'd invent.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:06 AM
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289 is very good, and I'd agree with essentially every point.

How the hell did they do that?

Orange post titles! No, seriously, I'd be interested to know the answer to that one.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:37 AM
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It's not true that "we" are doing "nothing."

Technically, we ("we" being humanity) aren't doing "nothing", but what we are doing is inadequate enough to be the functional equivalent of nothing. And it appears that the functional equivalent of nothing is about the most that our institutions are capable of.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:45 AM
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Don't forget the new federal gas mileage standards.

I wish for far more.

(My friend worked for Solyndra. He liked their cylindrical solar cells, but didn't understand how a high-cost solar option was going to sell. We were musing one day that another friend who lives across the country might not have heard that my friend has lost his job, and he said "Meggie, everyone in the world knows I lost my job.")


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:51 AM
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288.last: Tens of millions of supporters, an entire industry to provide financing, and a convenient fit with America's national mythology.

Climate change has gajillions of dollars on the 'do nothing' side and is slow enough and amorphous enough that people can be in denial until it's way past too late.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 11:56 AM
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294.1 should include "several million single-issue voters"


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 12:00 PM
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208

Seriously (silly though saying 'seriously' is in this context), you're making a no-true-Scotsman argument. No serious Republican politician is a birther, because being a birther marks you as unserious. ...

I originally said "mostly" to allow for exceptions like Bachman (or Trump).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:35 PM
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296

Upon belatedly checking I see this isn't quite right but I didn't intend to claim that no important Republican politicians pushed birtherism just that it was dominantly a crank cause.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:38 PM
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211

... she spent time leading the polls for the Republican nomination.

Until her crank views got wider exposure.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:39 PM
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268

There is no good reason I can see why the tax returns of politicians should be legally protected from public disclosure. Running for President should simply waive your right of confidentiality in that regard.

I have no problem with this but I would apply it to the House and Senate as well.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:44 PM
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293

My friend worked for Solyndra. He liked their cylindrical solar cells, but didn't understand how a high-cost solar option was going to sell. ...

The Solyndra investment never made any sense at all.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 4:48 PM
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...until its too late, and, even then, we still probably aren't going to do shit.

Well, to be fair, once it really is too late there really isn't much point in taking preventative action.


Posted by: wink ;) | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 8:21 PM
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186: Reid's actions and how people react to them may change the calculations of Republican politicians about this sort of thing going forward.

I must say, James, this one approaches mcmanusian death of irony levels. Well done.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:26 PM
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And you know what else, James? If Obama's Occidental or Columbia transcripts were in fact quite bad, yet he still was able to transfer to Columbia or was admitted to Harvard it would show that those institutions made pretty good fucking decisions. And if affirmative action were shown to have played a role? It'd be a data point in favor of that*.

*But I do understand the political optics in our fair country.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-12 9:32 PM
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303

And you know what else, James? If Obama's Occidental or Columbia transcripts were in fact quite bad, yet he still was able to transfer to Columbia or was admitted to Harvard it would show that those institutions made pretty good fucking decisions. And if affirmative action were shown to have played a role? It'd be a data point in favor of that*.

Does the same principle apply generally? If GWB was a legacy admit is that an argument for legacy admissions?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 4:46 AM
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GWB's "legacy" status didn't end when he left college. He pretty much legacied into the presidency. Given his performance once he couldn't be bailed out via legacy, his case argues against legacies.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 5:54 AM
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It could generalize to global waraming, another issue on which many less-well educated Democrats did not have strong feelings.

As far as I can tell there's almost zero correlation between level of education and opinions about global warming. Of five local colleagues (postdocs and faculty in my field) I've talked to about the issue, three are somewhere on the denialist spectrum. I know the opinions of two of the recent three-million-dollar prize winners on this issue, one of whom is on the denialist spectrum while the other is a glib quick-techno-fixer. Another faculty member at the place where they work invited an astrophysicist to visit to give a talk about how climate change is due to the sun and cosmic rays. It was well-attended because the narrative of "brilliant maverick proves establishment wrong" is somehow very attractive even to people who are the establishment in their own corner of science.

I've almost stopped talking about climate change except to a couple of people who I know will agree me, just because it's so enormously frustrating to talk about it with otherwise intelligent people who will just sneer at everything I say.

Maybe the only way out is to convince some oddball super-rich person to spend billions on carbon air capture. Sounds completely nutty, but when the alternative is hoping for the democratic process to get it right fast enough...


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 5:55 AM
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305, 306: I've said before and I'll say it again: democracy doesn't work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:00 AM
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306 is profoundly depressing.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:01 AM
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305

GWB's "legacy" status didn't end when he left college. He pretty much legacied into the presidency. Given his performance once he couldn't be bailed out via legacy, his case argues against legacies.

So if Obama fails as President this is an argument against affirmative action?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:11 AM
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That's some dippy trolling, Shearer. You need more coffee?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:19 AM
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three are somewhere on the denialist spectrum.

Denialist spectrum - that's brilliant.

I was listening to some annoying libertarian economist on a podcast, and he was saying "I'm an agnostic about global warming. Maybe its happening, but I don't think we should do anything about it.... if it comes, we will figure out how to adapt."

Totally on the spectrum.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:20 AM
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306 is unreal. Good lord.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:26 AM
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306

... Sounds completely nutty, but when the alternative is hoping for the democratic process to get it right fast enough...

Especially since China is not a democracy.

A problem for the alarmists is that they are very weak on practical solutions. If there is nothing to be done naturally people hope the problem isn't really that bad.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:29 AM
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Denialist spectrum - that's brilliant.

Well, there are quite a few variations on denial, right? There's:

* "I don't think the Earths is warming." (Measurements? We don't need no steenking measurements.)

* "I think the Earth is warming, but not due to human influence" or "I think the Earth is warming but I don't think it has anything to do with CO2." (Probably the most common form. Sometimes accompanied by elaborate or fanciful attempts to explain the true cause of warming. More often accompanied by pointing at warm times in geological history, because clearly if something happens twice it must be for exactly the same reason each time.)

* "I think the Earth is warming due to CO2, but not due to human activity." (Huh. So... all that carbon we're burning is going into a sink somewhere, and something else is emitting the same amount of carbon into the air independent of human activity? Yeah, that's, um, okay...)

* "Climate is just too complicated for us to model or understand." (Carefully avoids dealing with anything empirical!)

* "The Earth is warming, but it isn't going to cause any problems." or "The Earth is warming, but we'll just adapt." (Failure to engage with any actual literature on what the effects of warming will be.)

* "The Earth is warming, and it might cause some problems, but we just can't afford to do anything about it because it would hurt business too much." (Yes, let's do a cost/benefit analysis and pretend only one side has any costs.)

* "But think of all the poor people in China! You're going to slow down China's economic growth by forcing them to burn less fossil fuel. Why are you taking food out of their mouths?" (Well, yes, this does touch on a real issue of where the expense of dealing with the problem should come from. But it tends to be deployed as yet another way to dismiss the whole issue.)

I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:35 AM
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314 posted before seeing 313.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:37 AM
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My views on climate change and fossil fuels.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:42 AM
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The one I hear most often on right-wing talk radio:

* "The Earth not warming, and the whole global warming thing is a hoax perpetrated by left-wing scientists who just want to scare people into giving government more control over their daily lives, because that's the real goal of all liberals."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:44 AM
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The one I've heard (about, thankfully, not proferred personally) is "climate modeling is junk; all of those models were originally developed by Rand and the DoD to try and sell MAD scenarios and have simplifications that can't be trusted". Which I assume has a sort of inside-baseball appeal to some people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:44 AM
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"Climate is just too complicated for us to model or understand."

Lorenz would have seen this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:45 AM
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I was really flabbergasted the first time I heard "I think the Earth is warming due to CO2, but not due to human activity," and spent quite a while trying to get the person (a physicist) I was talking to to see how silly it was without much success.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:46 AM
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I'm just appalled that it's coming from physicists. Is it just the appeal of being Slate/D.Brooks contrarian?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:48 AM
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With engineers I feel like there's a certain element of feeling like you have the (applied) mathematical sophistication to really understand the issue, ergo you know better than all the people making lay arguments for climate change, ergo it's hooey. I wonder if it's the same for physicists.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:53 AM
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Maybe specific to the exact sciences. Math, theoretical physics, and computer work attract people who can make real progress via solitary work on an apparently flaky idea.

IME, in more collaborative disciplines, outright disbelief in anthropogenic warming is pretty rare.

Climate modeling is a messy, empirical field, and there are certainly screwy isolated results reported both in the popular press and professionally. Being curious or skeptical about human knowledge of some facet of global warming is IMO a reasonable response-- how important is the thermohaline circulation, for instance?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:53 AM
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321

I'm just appalled that it's coming from physicists. Is it just the appeal of being Slate/D.Brooks contrarian?

Physicists tend to think that anyone who isn't a physicist is a moron.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:55 AM
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Clearly, these physicists are picking a side emotionally, and then rationalizing it however they can. It's still shocking, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:59 AM
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324: not like those mathematicians.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 6:59 AM
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Unfortunately there's more than a grain of truth in 324.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:00 AM
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With engineers I feel like there's a certain element of feeling like you have the (applied) mathematical sophistication to really understand the issue, ergo you know better than all the people making lay arguments for climate change, ergo it's hooey.

Even more important might be that they think "Oh, this problem can't possibly be too hard to solve by geoengineering. If it were, I'd be terrified!"

Just look at Mount Pinatubo! Set a couple of those to go non-stop, and you're done. You could even float them in that garbage patch that people keep whining about.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:01 AM
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How many think global warming is real, caused by human activity, catastrophic for humans, and go "Meh, bunch of assholes anyway."?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:02 AM
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Not physicists specifically.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:04 AM
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Yeah, I can think of several justifications, but mostly it's arrogance. Another point is that in our field the standard for an experimental discovery is very high, whereas the statistical significance of the warming trend in data is not so high. But the reason we ask for such high significance is that when you're hunting any new particle that might or might not exist, there are thousands of possible measurements where an effect could show up. It's a rather different scenario from asking a well-defined question about data, and there's no reason to think, say, "95% confidence" isn't, as it sounds, a reasonably high amount of confidence. These quibbles over statistical significance are also pretty weird coming from theorists, since the theoretical case for CO2 causing greenhouse warming is pretty strong and pretty comprehensible.

It's also true that almost all the people I have in mind who are on the denialist spectrum are from outside the US, while the people in my field who I know who are not denialists in any form are all American. I'm not really sure what to make of that. That correlation goes away if I think about physicists more generally, e.g. W/ll Hap/per at Princeton is American and one of the most prominent denialists.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:06 AM
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Will it Hap/per? W/ill Ha/ppe/r says no!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:08 AM
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Whoops, I, should have, included the slashes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:09 AM
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Eh, I don't think he knows who I am, anyway.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:09 AM
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I have a more refined model for correlating national origin with opinion on climate change that works very well on most people I know, but the number of data points is low and I'm afraid generalizing in this way would sound vaguely racist.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:12 AM
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Post it presidentially.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:14 AM
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Plenty of racist presidents to pick from.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:20 AM
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Many Russians believe strange things about the earth-- oil come from rocks as well as decayed club moss, fluctuations in the sun's power output cause Milankovic cycles, more. Usually the strange beliefs are not clearly falsifiable. Chinese are all over the place IME.

Scientists from both countries are frequently not at all interested in conventional wisdom, western or domestic, for obvious reasons.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 7:23 AM
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304: Does the same principle apply generally? If GWB was a legacy admit is that an argument for legacy admissions?

Tweety's response in 310 is actually the correct response to this comment, but I will add that it would certainly be an argument for legacy admissions sometimes accomplishing precisely what they are designed to do*.

*In fact it is in alignment with what was--as far I could discern--GWB's only true political principle: that the incompetent sons of the rich and powerful should not be deprived of the social, financial and political status that by casting a cloud upon what he claimed to be the legitimacy of his election their birthright.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 8:09 AM
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329: Neither of my kids is going to reproduce, the whole planet can be sterilized after another fifty years for all I care.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 8:14 AM
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Tweety's response in 310 is actually the correct response

Now look what you've done. I was just going to let this go, but now I feel compelled to put the obvious response to 309 on the record:

Yes, James, if Obama's election as president was a result of affirmative action in presidential hiring policies, then his failure as president would be a datapoint in an argument against affirmative action.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 11:30 AM
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Yes, James, if Obama's election as president was a result of affirmative action in presidential hiring policies, then his failure as president would be a datapoint in an argument against affirmative action.

Suppose it was indirectly the result of affirmative action in college admission policies?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 9-12 5:33 PM
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Interesting. Kos thinks Reid's source is one of the Huntsmans.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-10-12 6:47 AM
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Clearly, these physicists are picking a side emotionally, and then rationalizing it however they can. It's still shocking, though.

...not like those mathematicians

Many Russians believe strange things...

When it's Russian mathematicians, all bets are off.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 08-10-12 9:18 PM
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One of Fomenko's simplest methods is statistical correlation of texts. His basic assumption is that a text which describes a sequence of events will devote more space to more important events (for example, a period of war or an unrest will have much more space devoted to than a period of peaceful, non-eventful years), and that this irregularity will remain visible in other descriptions of the period.

The fool! He neglects morphic resonance, which naturally explains these correlations.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-10-12 9:53 PM
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The fool! He neglects morphic resonance, which naturally explains these correlations.

And thus is a beautiful hypothesis slain by an ugly fact.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 08-10-12 10:11 PM
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