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Battle of the Brights

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday July 14, 2009 02:07 PM

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You gotta feel sorry for Democratic Party apologist Joseph Romm, shown at left looking like Philip Roth's nerdy younger brother. In a recent Huffington Post item, Romm has dutifully put himself in the awkward position of suggesting that James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute, is a science denier.

Here’s the backstory:

Hansen — who, as Romm acknowledges, is a distinguished guy and knows a thing or two about climate science — recently posted, also at the HuffPo, a blistering expose of the utterly “counterfeit” and meaningless Waxman-Markey bill, which, as Hansen says, “locks in fossil fuel business-as-usual and garlands it with a Ponzi-like cap-and-trade scheme.” Hansen correctly observes that this non-solution scuttled any hope for a “consensus” on carbon emissions reduction between the rich countries of the world and those who are still trying to get rich: “The [G-8] delegates from other [developing] nations ... read the [Waxman-Markey] bill and deduce[d] that it’s no more fit to rescue our climate than the V-2 rocket was to land a man on the moon.”

Poor Joe promptly ground out a turgid 2800-word response to Hansen’s post — almost three words for Hansen’s every one. Joe’s line of argument — unlike Hansen’s — is not very clear, but it seems to turn on two main postulates: first, that Hansen understands science but doesn’t get politics; and second, that Hansen’s post has been reproduced on various “climate denial” flat-earth sites. The implication is that Hansen — after twenty years of work enlisting thousands of other climate scientists to the cause — has gone off the rails and become a flat-earther himself.

Now Joe knows some science too, and he can think and write cogently when he wants to. How, then, to explain his weird muddled childish response to Hansen’s straightforward critique?

The sad answer probably is that Joe works for an outfit called the Center for American Progress (CAP), which is what they call in Washington a “think tank” — and fair enough; such thinking as gets done in Washington is done in such places.

Washington think-tanks come in two hard-to-distinguish flavors: Republican and Democrat. CAP is a Democratic-flavored think tank. Waxman-Markey is the feeble brainchild of the new Democratic congressional majority.

Joe, being a professional Democrat, is also a “realist.” So since this messy abortion of a bill is the best his dawgs in Congress can do, we should all get down with it, or he will call us terrible names, like the French knights in the Monty Python movie — Politically unsophisticated! Unrealistic! Flat-earther! Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!

The scattershot incoherence of Joe’s essay betrays his bad conscience. He knows that Waxman-Markey is a joke. Hell, not four months ago, in a talk at the American Museum of Natural History, he proudly rolled out his own phrase, ripoffsets, to disparage those spongy “somewhere else reductions” that are central in Waxman-Markey’s “hide the ball” ethos.

Joe now says he came to understand offsets “after much research and discussion with leading experts.” But how to explain his positively nutty statement that “One of the biggest pluses of a cap-and-trade over a tax is that participants tend to think that the cost of meeting the targets — and hence the cost of the permits — will be much higher than they actually turn out to be. So they do more than is necessary.”?

The answer, of course, is that as a team player, Joe has to defend Waxman-Markey, no matter what a ripoff it is, and no matter that he himself knows better. Since the bill itself makes no sense in the context of its supposed goals, Joe can't make any sense either. Incoherence is contagious.

It's a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it – or rather, somebody can always be found to do it.

Comments (22)

But who's to say unladen African swallows won't fix our climate?

Romm, at the Center for American Progress, is now the flak-catcher for the disastrous Waxman/Markey bill, which Hansen quite rightly opposed as indeed most of us did, at least those of us who are not lap dogs cravenly licking the hindmost parts of our Democratic Party masters as Romm does.

Looks like the DP campaign to naderize James Hansen is ramping up. They've sicc'ed the think tank dogs on him. Can the pwoggie blogs be far behind?


romm is right now, hansen is right in a couple years.


Hansen is the best on climate change. I like that he calls shit on the deniers, as well as the hysterical non-scientific doomsday zealots.


mr H:

"The real naïveté is their belief that they, and not the fossil-fuel interests, are driving the legislative process. "

what are the implications
of mr H's counter "postulate" ??

reform is impossible ??
or the wildly illogical point
that to go for a real god's green earth
type pigou tax
might just slip on past em
where cap and spayed
will never get
to be a cram down style of a cap ???

to me the implied message
is simply
don't feel safe
the ice is still
gonna melt away

i hear greenland now
in lady hamilton's nasal screech

"i'm melting ...i'm melting "

mr H on the rude dynamics of it all :

""If we burn even half of Earth's remaining fossil fuels we will destroy the planet as humanity knows it ...added emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide will set our Earth irreversibly onto a course toward an ice-free state, a course that will initiate a chain reaction of irreversible and catastrophic climate changes...ignite a devil's cauldron of melted icecaps, bubbling permafrost, and combustible forests from which there will be no turning back"

"...destroy the planet as humanity knows it."

the horror the horror .....
hey i can dig it !!!!

then again
super Al chastizzzed me on this once

sez Al
"as the climate changes owen baby
the earth's melodrama will
yes become more cinemascopic
but massively miserable too "


while ole eloi me
will shuffle off
in my comfy slippers
to higher
more temporate climes and grounds

kinda new orleans times one earth diameter

with me as grandma bush


"The scattershot incoherence of Joe’s essay betrays his bad conscience"

a lesson to us all
if you got dirty wet work to do
forget the rock salt
use a butcher knife
and use it with trog like authority

why can't our liberal skirt brains
figure these elementary tricks out

Peter Ward:

As usual, that it might be up to the people of the Earth to decided what climate change action to take regardless of what experts think is beyond discussion.

Romm looks like (blessed be his sandal) Brian's mother after trans-gender procedures, actually.


"As usual, that it might be up to the people of the Earth to decided what climate change action to take regardless of what experts think is beyond discussion"

'and so the people of earth ..all the people of earth at once stood up and cried....'

and just what shall rally them....

what is mother natures
trumpet of doom ??

a humid north hemi summer
without end ???
a global rising tide that never crests??



Al Schumann:

Hapa, Romm is a political cretin. He's a miserable anus. There was no need for him to answer Hansen at all. He could have ignored him. He could have said Hansen had points worth considering that should form the basis for subsequent legislation-- he had, after all, already conceded on his very own blog that Waxman-Markey was badly flawed and would need lots of fixing. Instead his chose this grotesquely self-indulgent, unforgivably asinine, arrogant wagon-circling schtick, straight out of the boardroom of a company blaming consumers for being incinerated by their product. He naderbaited Hansen! And with him, everyone Hansen has influenced.

He's just done the stupidest possible thing he could manage, assuming he genuinely wants climate remediation. He's done the wingnuts' work for them, bless his heart, just like any other time-serving Democratic hack. He's made it clear that any climate remediation coalition is a coalition only if it follows the Democratic way. Otherwise it gets marginalized.

One would think, given the immense social burdens entailed in even a very good plan, that this is not the time for dick-waving, fatuous corporate polemics and junk psychology borrowed from the wingnuts. But Romm clearly has other priorities.


no. romm has the argument about copenhagen. any player who thought the USA would show up with anything resembling good short-term policy was a fool. anyone who said they expected it is a liar, one of many.

particularly now that the sunk costs are fully underwater so to speak.

ah fuck i've been trying to write this for two hours. forget it.

"nobody's right."


super al
this jittery fraud's
temper fit herequite nicely

it's not the usual sophisto-cratic
flack speak

our self important
pubic clam faced duck fucker here
is having
a wonkabilly hissy fit cum jag off

"the party of the possible
has built it's causeway mister H..."
the ASS that must be obeyed
has brayed
time for all good nerds
to stfu
come to the aide of the...blah blah blah

why not the usual ??

why not
'what is doable is best ...'
why not the usual
wilted donk downer defense
'alas yes ..t'is flawed..
wicked flawed in fact... but
is it not better then nothing
does it not start the ball rolling
etc etc ??'

shylockian pathos ...

nope this is turtle snap shit here

this guy ROMM i guess
is some self designed attack fairy
fit for heckling the trogs
so have empathy
he has only his rebid goo goo
nit pickers
dudgeon for tools

and as the father suggests
he is being summoned to the flag
he does what he does
'cause that's all he can do
come love or money ....well not love
for that
he squirts too


in non irony mode is a pleasant wonder

his last comment
has the non dexterous
haulting flow
of actual conviction

it's fury
gargles in the throat

i wish i were hapa on this

i'd feel more clearly
the damnation
inside it all


words of an old green warrior :

"Natural selection in animals exists
in humans in a kind of "social selection", where conscious choices
are made to do something
or not do something
because the consequences
are known and foreseeable,
... none of us will be around
to know if future choices
will favor survival or extinction"

man on a white horse ??
corporate greening for not just fun
but profit ???

may that be our portal to a future
earth still full of
hu -caps and butter cups too ??

if so
damn clio and her ironic ways eh ???

but sez our green warrior :

"there is too much conflict and competition in the world for the countries to unite behind saving civilization."

" They are too focused on saving..."

" capitalism"


it hardly escapes any of us
why a war on warming
can't be declared by the ob one

and massive uncle action commence
immediately if not sooner
on the trillion dollar scale
uncle's war on
limited liability casino debt default
has taken

some things are just not core enough ..eh ??


thru this portal link
u can enter hapa world



ah, the beautiful central valley, and with all the subdivision lines pre-drawn

Al Schumann:

Hapa, it ain't quite that nobody's right. You have been right all along.

I think we need trees hugged on a scale that takes every living soul on the planet, and I don't think we're going to get those trees hugged properly... unless we get a real labor program going, with land reform and the means of production squarely where it belongs.

I think it's safe to say that there'll be no planet-saving without giving everyone a meaningful piece of the action.


labor program? I hear The Humungous always needs more sidekicks!

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