Pharyngula

Say no to RFK

So far, rumors of the first two appointments by Obama leave me worried. Rahm? No, please — after campaigning on a slogan of “change”, buying into one of the most deeply imbedded beltway insiders is not encouraging. Maybe there’s some virtue in working with the Democratic establishment, so I can forgive one concession to the status quo, but let’s see some innovative thinking, too.

More worrisome is the idea that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could get a prominent appointment. Orac has torn that one apart, and I agree: we do not need another irrational purveyor of woo and fluffy substanceless hysteria contributing to this country’s administration.

One thing you can do is contact the transition team and voice your disapproval. Demand rigor in the people running our government!


Salon has an illuminating perspective on Rahm: he’s Obama’s designated asshole. Yeah, that works.

Comments

  1. #1 Badjuggler
    November 7, 2008

    I was thinking maybe giving RFK Jr. a full-time job might keep him out of the vaccination fray and similar silliness. He has shown some passion on environmental things.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    November 7, 2008

    Is Jenny McCarthy up for a spot as well? At least I’d rather see her.

    I think we’ve experienced enough anti-science in the last eight years or so.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 tsg
    November 7, 2008

    Let him be head bee-guy.

  4. #4 Former PZ Student
    November 7, 2008

    “Rahm? No, please — after campaigning on a slogan of “change”, buying into one of the most deeply imbedded beltway insiders is not encouraging.”

    Exactly. I never liked the whole mantra of “Change”. We must remember that change can be good or bad…positive or negative. I prefer the term Progress.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    November 7, 2008

    My inclination is to write a letter saying, “Yo, dudes, we voted for Obama over Palin. Don’t make us find out we got both.” Too snarky?

    Oh, and “passion” is not enough to be a good environmentalist. Plenty of people over at Orac’s place are upset that RFK “supports” wind power in general but petulantly refused to countenance a wind farm off Martha’s Vineyard.

  6. #6 heddle
    November 7, 2008

    Badjuggler

    He has shown some passion on environmental things.

    Yes, he is very passionate about renewable energy, just NIMBY.

  7. #7 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    Rahm has this rather charming idea of conscripting everyone for “national service”. Trouble is, there’s this little thing in the constitution that prohibits it, called the thirteenth amendment. I really don’t want anyone who believes that the people are the property of the state to command in any position of responsibility in the federal government.

    -jcr

  8. #8 Tulse
    November 7, 2008

    Rahm comes from Congress, and thus knows the players on the Hill. He can play bad cop to potential renegade Dems, and ensure that Obama’s legislative agenda moves forward. He may be partisan, but he is also likely to be effective, and I think that is a more important quality.

  9. #9 Cyan
    November 7, 2008

    The “change” referred to was the change from the 90% corrupt Republican establishment to the 50% corrupt Democratic establishment.

    See the wrong lizard.

  10. #10 Ian
    November 7, 2008

    Yea I agree. It would be a real slap in the face of science to appoint RFK Jr. for anything, let alone a very science-intensive post like EPA. The head of the EPA doesn’t have to be a scientist, but they should have the respect of scientists and more importantly have a healthy respect of the scientific process. RFK Jr. lacks both.

  11. #11 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    buying into one of the most deeply imbedded beltway insiders is not encouraging

    That’s basically what I said when he picked Biden.

    Change? Yeah, right.

    -jcr

  12. #12 Sili
    November 7, 2008

    I’ll admit up front that the only thing I know of Rahm is the profile I read on BBC yesterday.

    That said – politics is the art of the possible, and he does sound like someone who knows what’s possible. Which is a damn good place to start if you wanna reach for the impossible.

    Call me naïve (I am – in addition to being a coward), but I don’t think Obama is the type to let himself get manipulated easily. Unlike some people …

    Kennedy, though … if he is let near anything requiring real science, I’ll have to reëvaluate my opinion of Obama’s intellect.

    I nearly creamed myself yesterday when I saw that Kerry is supposedly in play for secretary of state. Yay!

  13. #13 bill r
    November 7, 2008

    rahm: you expected someone else from a scion of the Daley machine? I wonder how much hope for change that gives to the Palestinians and Arabs. I loved his suggestion for a universal compulsory national service. Back in the day, we called the non-universal version “the draft”.

  14. #14 Russell Miller
    November 7, 2008

    I don’t expect Obama to make choices that I will necessarily agree with.

    I do expect him to put some thought into it and hire some smart people. Even if they don’t make the same decisions I would, I would like for those decisions to be at least deliberative and studied.

    So far I am very pleased.

  15. #15 Bronze Dog
    November 7, 2008

    On the topic of wind farms, I generally have concerns for wildlife. Grassland species sometimes interpret them as forests and will avoid what’s otherwise good land for them. And here in Texas, the companies building them are sometimes sneaky in their contracts, but that’s a legal issue.

    But back at the issue in hand: RFK’s just twisted. He did a nasty job of quote mining and got caught at it. He manufactures conspiracies in violation of Occam’s razor. Those are not traits you want in someone heading an organization.

  16. #16 Phil
    November 7, 2008

    I sent a missive to Obama. I pointed out that I voted for him and donated. I have a science background and RFK jr. despite his good works in other fields, is not a scientist and in fact to deny science in the face of facts , is the sort of mindset which leads to the Bush administration.

  17. #17 bob
    November 7, 2008

    A lot of haters here are employing a false dichotomy: politicians are either perfect or terrible. Grow the fuck up! Obama isn’t perfect, and no one is claiming he is! Nevertheless, he does have a chance to be good (or at least be better than Bush was and McCain likely would have been). Write the campaign, and help him avoid his first major mistake: putting a crank pseudoscientist in a position of power. The back-and-forth comments in these political posts have been pathetic and worthless … try doing something that might end up being productive for a change.

  18. #18 AAB
    November 7, 2008

    what is the matter with Rahm? I want more details.

  19. #19 Hans
    November 7, 2008

    Rahm has this rather charming idea of conscripting everyone for “national service”. Trouble is, there’s this little thing in the constitution that prohibits it, called the thirteenth amendment. I really don’t want anyone who believes that the people are the property of the state to command in any position of responsibility in the federal government.

    The Supreme Court disagrees with you: ‘In Butler v. Perry, 240 U.S. 328 (1916), the Supreme Court ruled that the military draft was not “involuntary servitude”.’

  20. #20 Matt Heath
    November 7, 2008

    If you search Google news for “RFK Jr” more than half of it is science bloggers screaming “HELL NO!”. If it was ever a live consideration I suspect there’s enough controversy to kill it off (especially now the contact is Pharyngulated).

    Incidentally, doesn’t a chief of staff more or less have to be an insider? It’s Leo McGarry’s job, right? Trading favours and banging heads to get things done?

  21. #21 Freddie
    November 7, 2008

    PZ, do you have any names you would like to see Obama considering?

    I understand writing in to give him the criteria we think is important in making these decisions, but I think we could find flaws in many of the people already in government. I don’t think “change” has to mean an entire clean slate of fresh leaders. We may have new Democrats in office, but several incumbents remain from both parties and they need to be courted. Also, I think if Obama runs his admin the way he ran his campaign then we’ll see that his advisers will hopefully be just that, people who give different advice.

    It’s been so long since we’ve seen a President actually “lead” that we forget that a President can listen to opposing ideas and still make positive changes.

    So I ask again, what names do you want to see on his advisory list?

  22. #22 Lee Picton
    November 7, 2008

    From what I have seen of Rahm, I find I must respectfully disagree; I think he will be the necessary hard nose who can shepherd Obama’s wishes in the congress and free him up to concentrate on the big issues without having to pay attention to the details. Obama as the new guy on the block needs old hands around him. If he gets the right ones, it will be gratifying. Yeah, I know Bush had old hands, but they were war mongers who used Bush like a handpuppet and followed their own agenda. Bush is essentially a weak man who must bluster to cover up his own inadequacies- Obama is not. So far I am hopeful.

  23. #23 LawnBoy
    November 7, 2008

    I’m happy with the pick of Rahm. One of the big reasons that Carter and Clinton both got off to rocky starts is they brought in a confidant for a chief of staff. That’s not what the position needs – it needs someone who knows how to work both the White House and the Congress.

    Emanuel is one of the few Democrats out there who has experience in both the White House (the Clinton years) and in the Congress (6 years in the House, rising quickly to leadership).

    It he a fresh face? No. Will he be effective? Very probably. That’s a good thing in my book.

  24. #24 noncarborundum
    November 7, 2008

    “I have heard that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is under consideration to head the Environmental Protection Agency. I think Mr. Kennedy would be a poor choice.

    “Mr. Kennedy is well known as an anti-vaccination activist. In this pursuit, he has engaged in shoddy reasoning, promulgated conspiracy theories, viciously attacked opponents, and thoroughly ignored the substantial body of scientific evidence that denies a connection between vaccination and autism. His misadventures in other scientific fields are similar.

    “For the last eight years, the Republicans running this country have engaged in a well-documented war on science, in which science and reason were subordinated to political considerations. If the Obama Administration wishes to institute a corresponding Democratic war on science, Mr. Kennedy would be an excellent place to start. If, however, it wishes to repudiate the past eight years with an EPA that sets policy according to science and not vice versa, it should avoid Mr. Kennedy like the plague.”

  25. #25 Mike the Englishman
    November 7, 2008

    @ #7:

    Trouble is, there’s this little thing in the constitution that prohibits it, called the thirteenth amendment.

    Except that the Supreme Court has ruled in Butler vs. Perry that this is not true with respect to military service, and it seems overwhelmingly likely that the same would hold true for civilian service, given its limited timespan and duties associated with it.

    Frankly, the comparison of compulsory civilian service which endures for a tiny fraction of time with a condition of slavery that is lifelong, hereditary and inescapable is not only inaccurate, but leaves you looking dumber than a bag of spanners and juvenile with it.

    I really don’t want anyone who believes that the people are the property of the state to command in any position of responsibility in the federal government.

    And I don’t want anyone as ignorant as you in any position of power whatsoever. Unfortunately for you, while your view of Rahm Emanuel is a strawman, mine of you is not.

    @ #8:

    Exactly! Running on the principle of change and hope is grand, but it doesn’t mean shit if you can’t get anything done afterwards. All the principles in the world and $1 will get you a cup of coffee…

  26. #26 spyderkl
    November 7, 2008

    I think Emmanuel’s a good choice for Obama. Yes, he’s a Washington insider; but on the bright side, he knows very well how to Play the Game (which is something that can only help), and he’s a good Chicago guy. Obama could do a whole lot worse, IMO.

    For example, if he seriously considers RFK, Jr. for anything in his cabinet. At all. Especially in HHS, which frightens me to no end. After the last 8 years, the worst thing we could have in there is Mr. “Vaccines are Teh Evil”.

  27. #27 ggab
    November 7, 2008

    The only reason that I never refer to myself as a democrat is that they never seem to have the balls to get anything done.
    Rahm changes all that.
    What do you want?
    Rahm Emanuel is going to get shit done, or he’s going to break some fucking knees and thumbs!!
    Seriously, what the hell is going on here? It’s like you’re dying for a reason to be upset.
    If the Kennedy thing turns out to be more than a rumour, I’ll be a little nervous, but Rahm Emanuel is the perfect choice.
    Christ, it’s like dealing with the goth kids when I ran a nightclub. You’re not happy unless you’re unhappy.
    Who the hell do you want as cheif of staff?
    I want someone who will be able to bust kick some asses and get the job done. This guy is a freaking pit bull.

  28. #28 GOPnot4me
    November 7, 2008

    I read on one blog the suggestion that Obama wanted Rahmbo as Chief of Staff so that he would be in the W.H. where Obama could use his hard nose and keep an eye on him, rather than in the House obstructing the new agenda.
    Clever.

  29. #29 WBPNYC
    November 7, 2008

    If Obama REALLY wants to change things; and I take him at his word that he PASSIONATELY does, then he needs someone to FACILITATE change. If he puts into place agents of change who already know all the ins/outs, who already know the arcane mechanics of government then he gets going right out of the gate. It is a great idea for Obama’s learning curve to be mitigated by his support staff (I mean nothing derogatory with the use of support)not having such a steep curve.

  30. #30 Wm Bishop
    November 7, 2008

    Relax! I think you are getting too carried away here. He cannot just pick up novice outsiders that have no idea who is who and how Washington works. The Rahm pick is brilliant. He knows all the personalities on the hill and is the perfect person to get things done. He’s a great compliment to Obama’s personality. Don’t go too idealistic here. Do you really want a repeat of Clinton’s fiasco where he brought in hacks that had no clue how to hit the ground running? We don’t have that luxury – economy and war. As a lifelong Republican and huge supporter of Obama, I cringe at the “typical” idealistic views that detach from reality. Please don’t contribute to this false image people tend to paint on “liberals”, as I am partially one.

  31. #31 Hank Fox
    November 7, 2008

    Heh.

    Two weeks before the election, I realized that in some of my internal dialog, I was hearing MY words in Barack Obama’s voice. I was already scripting imaginary speeches for him. Everybody wants a piece of the guy, even me. Had to remind myself to sit back for a bit.

    I’m okay with Rahm Emanuel. Anybody who thinks Obama is gonna make any headway without people like him, good luck in that pleasant fantasy world — I’ll be here on Planet Earth when you get back.

    Something I’ll bet few others caught, but that I hope will send cold chills up the spines of the GOPers: When Obama’s aunt was outed as an illegal resident a few days before the election, the Obama camp responded that all relevant laws should of course be followed. I wondered if Rush Limbaugh, or a lot of people from the Bush administration, suddenly had heart palpitations. If Obama is willing to leave even a close relative to the ministrations of the law, how much influential forgiveness can be expected for the Bush White House lawbreakers? Ooh, makes my heart happy to imagine it.

    I suspect the next few years are going to be tougher than any of us imagine. I expect Obama to make mistakes. I expect him to make me unhappy. Frankly, I expect him to raise taxes in his second or third year, and I’m totally okay with that. I’d rather pay extra and have a country that works.

    But I’m going to support Obama as much as possible, in pretty much everything he does, for at least the first couple of years.

    First because for the first time in 8 years, I’ll have a president who actually IS smarter than me.

    Second because the right-wing hate machine will fight him every step of the way, heedlessly wrecking everything, just out of insane spite.

    Third because Obama has to succeed, or the rest of us are screwed.

  32. #32 jeff
    November 7, 2008

    I’ve seen rumors of Kathleen McGinty (Ex PA DEP head) as EPA head too and I would like that a lot better than RFK.

  33. #33 natural cynic
    November 7, 2008

    One additional problem with RFK jr. as an environmental advocate is that he certainly takes after his father in a personal population explosion: he has six kids.

  34. #34 Eric
    November 7, 2008

    @ #17
    That’s why I wrote to Obama right after I read about this on Orac.

  35. #35 ggab
    November 7, 2008

    Hank Fox
    “God” bless you!
    I think PZ is having too many Carter flashbacks. I don’t even mean that as a joke.
    PZ you’ve been through this, and you got burned. We all get it. We understand.
    This may seem like our generations Carter to you, but I think more of him than that. He’s smart enough to know better. He’s studied up on history and knows the mistakes that have been made.
    For now I choose to have “faith” in him. I’ve got his back and I believe that he’s got mine.
    At the very least, I’m going to let him take office before I talk about what a bad job he’s doing.
    Try to relax for just a moment.

  36. #36 Realist Golfer
    November 7, 2008

    There is some good news though…..Writings by David Swanson

    According to news reports, president elect Obama is considering for Labor Secretary three people who actually know something about labor and actually support the intended mission of the labor department, which is protecting the rights of laborers. And by laborers, I mean you. If you have not recently received a government bailout, you’re one of us. Here’s the short list:

    ?Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of House Education and Labor Committee
    ?Former Rep. David Bonior, member of Obama’s Transition Economic Advisory Board
    ?Andy Stern, president of Service Employees International Union

    Any of these men as Secretary of Labor would be a 180 degree reversal from the past eight years, during which the so-called labor department has done everything it could to damage the labor movement and the rights of working people.

    The National Labor Relations Board has a majority of its seats vacant and waiting for appointments. If similar care is taken in making those appointments, we will be in for a whole new nation, and therefore world, assuming we can all survive long enough to reap the benefits of a reborn labor movement.

    Congress is prepared to send to President Obama the Employee Free Choice Act, putting teeth into the legalization of the right to organize in your workplace.

    While many of Obama’s proposed appointments strike me as hugely misguided, the approach he is taking on labor appears ideal. Maybe that should tell us something. If the peace movement worked as well as the labor movement, or if the labor movement worked for peace, would Obama be considering people like Emanuel, Gates, and Powell for positions in his administration?

  37. #37 Scott from Oregon
    November 7, 2008

    Hey, what happened to Obama’s open door government promises?

    First policy meeting that may have a huge impact on all Americans next year, and it is a closed session whereby its participants were asked to not reveal the discussion to reporters…

    Call me queer for calling the man out on one of his most prominent promises, but, ya know, someone’s gotta state the obvious.

    I say this because his first stand in front of reporters as president elect and he couldn’t bring himself to state the obvious–

    “America has been running on credit and paper money and we are now flat broke as a nation, so we’re using money we don’t have trying to run a military empire, and the only thing we can think of to do is borrow and print more money…”

  38. #38 Sili
    November 7, 2008

    Something I’ll bet few others caught, but that I hope will send cold chills up the spines of the GOPers: When Obama’s aunt was outed as an illegal resident a few days before the election, the Obama camp responded that all relevant laws should of course be followed. I wondered if Rush Limbaugh, or a lot of people from the Bush administration, suddenly had heart palpitations. If Obama is willing to leave even a close relative to the ministrations of the law, how much influential forgiveness can be expected for the Bush White House lawbreakers? Ooh, makes my heart happy to imagine it.
    Hank Fox

    Ooooooh! Please, please don’t get my hopes up.

    When sticking my head into cloud-cuckoo-land I still see Clinton as chief prosecutor of the warcrimes tribunal. (I haven’t the foggiest who one’d put as the judges, though.)

  39. #39 Steve_C
    November 7, 2008

    Hey Scott…

    Ever notice how the market freaks out when someone says something it doesn’t like.
    A room full of potential Obama appointees bandying about ideas and worries in a public forum would be a disaster. Plus you’d get the Republicans making every thing a controversy.

    It has nothing to do with secrecy.

    What world do you live in Scott?

  40. #40 Sid Schwab
    November 7, 2008

    I agree about RFK: anyone who jumps on the mercury bandwagon disqualifies himself as far as I’m concerned. But the more I learn about Emanuel the more I like the pick. Here’s one good article. In general, when you peel through a little, you sense a tough and smart guy who knows his way around but who is more centrist than you might think; and one willing to find common ground in the name of moving forward. Which is what Obama seems to be about.

  41. #41 Richard
    November 7, 2008

    Warriors, arise! Write to the Transition team and let them know you don’t want RFK, Jr. anywhere in an Obama administration. I hate antivaccinationists with a passion, and I know you do too. Let’s give them the knock-out punch!

  42. #42 BruceJ
    November 7, 2008

    Well, I’ll be a contrarian. First, the post of COS is best in the hands of someone who knows where all the bodies are buried. To use a Godfather ref, Rahm will be a damn fine ‘wartime consigliere’.

    Second, while I agree with the criticism of RFK on the vaccination front, he’s got a deep and abiding environmental interest that would, in my opinion make him a far better fit for Interior.

    When my wife first heard the rumors on tv about RFK being considered, she called me in tears, tears of joy. This man had lead the fight to clean up the river she grew up on, the Hudson.

    I think he would be a very good choice for defending our environment at Interior.

  43. #43 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    #19 Hans,

    Thanks, I’ll add that decision to my list of the supreme court’s great failures, alongside the Dred Scott and Korematsu decisions.

    -jcr

  44. #44 clinteas
    November 7, 2008

    @27,

    Christ, it’s like dealing with the goth kids when I ran a nightclub. You’re not happy unless you’re unhappy.

    That one cracked me up.

    Rahm,although I dont know much about him,from what I read sounds like someone who gets shit done,and that cant be a bad thing,surely?
    RFK,that would be a bit of a worry,see what happens.

  45. #45 Rogue Epidemiologist
    November 7, 2008

    The hippie earth-mamas at Mothering disagree with you, PZ. Perhaps you or allies would like to have a word with them?

    (click name for link)

  46. #46 Leigh Shryock
    November 7, 2008

    I just sent in the following:

    I know that this will probably not be read by Obama, himself, but, I feel that this needs to be said. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. may have some good qualities, but promoting good science is not one of them. Please do not give into politicizing science by appointing someone to a science position (EPA) that espouses some awkward science views – for example, he’s against vaccination. I’m leery of such a man’s ability to be objective in science.

    Thanks for listening.

  47. #47 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    #25 Mike,

    I’ve heard that every Englishman who cared about their freedom has long since emigrated. Thanks for confirming it.

    When one is compelled to work at another’s command, one is not free. This is axiomatic, and it does not change if money is given for the work performed, or if the period of servitude is short. It also doesn’t change if the work compelled is some task that most of the people in a country believe is a worthwhile thing to do.

    You have no right to compel another person to work for you. Neither does a government.

    -jcr

  48. #48 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    The hippie earth-mamas at Mothering disagree with you, PZ. Perhaps you or allies would like to have a word with them?

    Um no thanks. That place breeds stupidity and misinformation about vaccines.

  49. #49 Jadehawk
    November 7, 2008

    I don’t mind Rahm in the position for which he’s being proposed (assuming there won’t be many other appointments along the same lines), for the reasons already mentioned by others: it does take an insider or two to actually push through new ideas.

    But RFK is a massive FAIL. someone who opposes wind-farms because they’ll “ruin the view” shouldn’t be within spitting distance of the EPA. doesn’t help that he has a basic lack of understanding of science, and sees conspiracies everywhere. I think I’d prefer Kathleen McGinty. She sounds a lot more sensible.

  50. #50 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    #37 Scott,

    The sad thing is that today he’s already called for a “stimulus package”, just like Bush did. Inflation isn’t a remedy for inflation.

    Get ready for four more years of the same kind of economic incompetence that got us into this mess, boys and girls.

    -jcr

  51. #51 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    someone who opposes wind-farms because they’ll “ruin the view” shouldn’t be within spitting distance of the EPA

    As it happens, the location of that proposed wind farm wasn’t visible from the shore. The Kennedys were bitching about it because they like to sail their yachts out where the turbines would be.

    -jcr

  52. #52 PZ Myers
    November 7, 2008

    Oh, well, then that’s alright, then.

  53. #53 Dahan
    November 7, 2008

    Seems like Al Gore might be a better choice for EPA. What’s he doing now days?

  54. #54 Realist Golfer
    November 7, 2008

    David Swanson on Rahm Emanuel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wob2RGMSjtk

  55. #55 BobC
    November 7, 2008

    President Obama, the greatest president in USA history, had a press conference today in Chicago, which is in these three YouTube videos:
    Part 1 of 3
    Part 2 of 3
    Part 3 of 3

  56. #56 Jadehawk
    November 7, 2008

    As it happens, the location of that proposed wind farm wasn’t visible from the shore. The Kennedys were bitching about it because they like to sail their yachts out where the turbines would be.

    all the more reason to keep the idiot out of the EPA…

    Seems like Al Gore might be a better choice for EPA. What’s he doing now days?

    that would certainly be THE man to lift the EPA into prominence (and give some repubs an aneurysm), but I think the awareness campaign he’s doing shouldn’t be deprived of its head.
    having him as a sort of spokesman, or a liaison between the EPA and non-governmental environmental groups might be a good idea though.

  57. #57 Observer
    November 7, 2008

    I agree that RFK jr. would be a terrible choice, but I’m very pleased with the choice of Rahm Emmanuel for Chief of Staff. Obama needs a tough guy, and I don’t just mean for the republicans. I think Emmanuel was picked largely to keep his own party in line.

  58. #58 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    Any chance of Obama rolling back any of the Bush/Paulson/110th congress bender? (he asked, rhetorically)

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/129987.html

    $2,063,800,000,000, or about $6800 for every man, woman and child in the USA. It’s kind of disappointing that neither of the major party candidates had the guts to oppose it.

    One would hope that on such a major issue as inflating our currency by two trillion dollars in about two months, the major parties would be on opposite sides.

    -jcr

  59. #59 Monado in Toronto
    November 7, 2008

    Rahm: the president’s Vice-Principal! The Principal strolls around looking administrative and the Vice-Principal puts the fear of punishment into fractious students.

  60. #60 Dahan
    November 7, 2008

    Sorry for my ignorance in this matter, but how do you set up a kill-file for someone like SFO? I love this site, but I just don’t think I can handle seeing him (or others like him)write the same nonsense over and over, day after day, week after week, apparently forever (or at least until PZ rightly gives him the heave-ho for slagging and insipidity). I’d like to know how to block his idiocy from appearing on my screen.

  61. #61 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Dahan, I haven;t done it but you need to be using firefox and then get the grease monkey plug in. After that there is a kill file plug in.

    not sure how it all fits together as I have not done it, but I doubt it is hard.

  62. #62 Nick Gotts
    November 7, 2008

    To my great embarrassment, I have to agree with John C. Randolph. Conscription, for military or civilian service, is a serious violation of personal freedom. Of course, it isn’t equivalent to slavery, and I neither know nor care whether it’s contrary to the US constitution, but I’d certainly oppose its introduction in the UK by all peaceful means.

    On Rahm – nasty piece of work, but probably effective, and as the saying has it, better to have him inside the tent pissing out. A chief of staff shouldn’t have any policy influence, and my hunch is, won’t with Obama.

    On RFK: “Hey, hey, RFK, how many kids did you kill today?”.

  63. #63 Jadehawk
    November 7, 2008

    well, I wrote them (in all fairness stating that I’m merely a worried bystander, not a citizen), and as soon the the boyfriend gets home, i’ll try to get him to write, too.

  64. #64 Dahan
    November 7, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM,

    Thanks for the heads up. Firefox isn’t my usual choice, but I like it well enough. I’ll look into it.

  65. #65 Turing Eret
    November 7, 2008

    The Chief of Staff position is necessarily one that needs a bulldog type persona and Rahm is a great choice for that. Whereas Barack Obama is the leader, the Chief of Staff is responsible for making sure others follow his lead. You need someone who is an aggressive and efficient manager, which Rahm Immanuel fits to a ‘t’.

  66. #66 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    Conscription, for military or civilian service, is a serious violation of personal freedom

    Congratulations, Nick. There may be some hope for you yet.

    I’d certainly oppose its introduction in the UK by all peaceful means.

    I hope for your sake, that peaceful means would suffice. If not though, what exactly would be your limit?

    There was a time when a man like Ghandhi could shame the British government into freeing his people. I’m not at all sure that’s still the case.

    -jcr

  67. #67 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Conscription, for military or civilian service, is a serious violation of personal freedom

    Oh I’m sure you’ll find many of us that agree with that.

  68. #68 fatherdaddy
    November 7, 2008

    I find it interesting that the President Elect, who was most like JFK in the aura created around him, is going to go for the son of JFK to help bring “change”. This kind of change is exactly what we could do without. So much for the science candidate. So much for the new Camelot. It looks like the shine is wearing off of Obama pretty quickly. This is what I expected, though. That is why I couldn’t vote for him and chose the other aging white guy (not McPalin). At least I can maintain my principals by voting for a guy who pays lip service (and I believe that is all he does) to real freedom. That’s the nice thing about 3rd party candidates. They can never get to a position of power to prove me wrong.

  69. #69 Natalie
    November 7, 2008

    BruceJ, I disagree your suggestion of RFK, Jr. serving in any government post. While he may have had the occasional success in the past, the fact remains that he does not have the tempermant or understanding of empirical reasoning to be making decisions. He is a conspiracy theorist, which is hardly what we need in any cabinet position or as head of an agency, and he appears to be allergic to the entire concept of “evidence based”.

    On the specific subject of the Department of the Interior, EPA, etc – RFK, Jr’s training is in law. What would make him qualified to pass judgment on scientific questions? The Sec. of the Interior would presumably be someone with experience in land management (assuming I remembered correctly what the Dept. of the Interior does). Similarly, I would assume that the head of the EPA would be someone with experience in pollution control or cleanup or something directly related. Not a lawyer.

  70. #70 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    I think Emmanuel was picked largely to keep his own party in line.

    I’m curious why you would consider that a good thing.

    The congress is not subordinate to the president. A congressman answers to his constituents, not to the executive. There’s a reason for this arrangement. It’s supposed to be a damper on the arbitrary exercise of power.

    The relationship between the president and the congress, particularly with the members of his own party, should be one of cooperation between equals, not bullying from the white house.

    -jcr

  71. #71 Sili
    November 7, 2008

    But bullying from Congress is just dandy?

  72. #72 MikeM
    November 7, 2008

    And now the ‘necks are afeared that Hussein guy will take away guns:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/11/07/national/a105908S50.DTL

    I’m happier than ever we elected Obama.

  73. #73 Skeptyk
    November 7, 2008

    Here’s what I sent:

    I understand there is talk of RFK, Jr as head of the EPA. This would be a bad move. Not only has he written broadly anti-scientific articles that have directly contributed to a hole in the herd immunity as he promotes nonsense about our vaccination program, but he continues with this behavior even after he has been notified of the facts, even after those who published his famous “Deadly Immunity” article (Rolling Stone and Salon) had to follow with numerous corrections.

    We need a scientist at head of the EPA. A scientist who is also a lawyer, and/or an economist, and/or a poet, would be great, but a scientist, first and foremost, and one for whom scientific truth is ascendant value. RFK, Jr does not fit the bill.

    RFK, Jr has, in the arrogance of his willful ignorance of vaccine science, dealt serious and continuing blows to our national health, especially that of our children.

    My son is on dialysis. I think of him, both pre- and post-transplant, and the mortal danger that common childhood diseases pose to him. I think of our elders, people with AIDS, folks with chronic illness, and all our acquaintances on the dialysis unit, where we spend 20 hours a week. The drop in vaccination, for which RFK, Jr must take significant moral responsibility, has put all of these people in danger. And, it has put Barack Obama’s daughters in danger, as well as all of our children, because herd immunity is as important to the the success of our public health programs as is individual vaccine response. This is a matter of basic science and grade school math.

    RFK, Jr has exhibited continued contempt for facts in the area of vaccines, as well as other areas which you will no doubt hear from others about. It would be an oxymoron to appoint this man to the EPA. Environmental protection is closely linked to public health, and RFK, Jr has shown abysmal judgment and lack of critical thinking when it comes to perhaps our most successful, cost-effective public health measure, vaccination.

    As a health care worker, as a resident of rural Vermont, as a parent, I think EPA is a critical agency, and think that the administrator of EPA should be full member of the president’s cabinet. This is why I urge you to drop RFK, Jr from consideration for the post.

    I hope you all had your flu shots.

  74. #74 Scott from Oregon
    November 7, 2008

    “””Hey Scott…

    Ever notice how the market freaks out when someone says something it doesn’t like.
    A room full of potential Obama appointees bandying about ideas and worries in a public forum would be a disaster. Plus you’d get the Republicans making every thing a controversy.

    It has nothing to do with secrecy.

    What world do you live in Scott?”””

    I live in the world that didn’t buy the Kool-Aid promised in the election. The economy has been in a downward spiral for a few years and the government up to the last kept denying there was a fundamental problem, fudging numbers and frankly, lying right into the cameras…

    Obama said he would change all that, and of course, I knew he was lying.

    Where are the transcripts for that meeting so we can begin to have open debate and transparency in government as promised?

    I remember watching the diehard Bushlickers defending Bush’s lies at every turn and every liberal shaking their fists and cursing like a cartoon…

    Now we see the defenders coming from the other camp, defending Obama on his first act as president elect…

    Change indeed.

    BTW… the country is broke, the dollar is about to be ruined, the Chinese and Russia and the ME are in talks of a new currency backed by gold to replace the dollar which will limit our ability to ship our inflation overseas…

    The solution? More debt and spending?

    boggle boggle…

  75. #75 Heliprogenus
    November 7, 2008

    Here’s what I wrote to the President Elect Transitional Office.

    As a common and shared experience with many Americans, I am brimming with hope and excited to truly see progress towards some Administrative changes. In particular, my greatest hope is that Scientific progress steam-rolls ahead, and the carefully selected appointees are qualified candidates for their position. Yet, I am extremely disheartened and dissatisfied that anti-vaccine advocates like Robert F Kennedy Jr are being seriously considered for cabinet level positions. It is not a time to find shrewd politicians and select them to lead this country out of our current scientific drought. It is time to find individuals of true merit and bearing who understand the issues at deeper levels, much like President Elect Obama. I am hoping for an administration that is brimming with “elitists” such as academics, economists, populists who can truly represent our inherent needs. I understand the task is monumental, yet, we are on a precipice that needs to be treated within a narrow margin of advisable actions. In essence, there are only a few ways of truly reversing course in a short amount of time, but many countless ways to continue our stagnated progress, or worse, lead us further into the scientific and rational abyss. I am pleading, as a fervent supporter, and an American with hope beyond simple expression that those who are selected for their positions are done so on their abilities to reason and think with empirical foresight.

  76. #76 Watchman
    November 7, 2008

    Rev,

    Um no thanks. That place breeds stupidity and misinformation about vaccines.

    Hah! That’s exactly why someone ought to have a word with ‘em!

  77. #77 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    the Chinese and Russia and the ME are in talks of a new currency backed by gold to replace the dollar which will limit our ability to ship our inflation overseas.

    That would certainly be a game-changer. If Russia and China give us a new gold standard, they will have done more for freedom that I would have ever thought possible given their history.

    Sound money would mean a very sharp reduction in the power of governments all over the world. When they can’t just inflate money to pay all the soldiers and bureaucrats and bribes they want, they’ll have to become responsive to their people.

    -jcr

  78. #78 fatherdaddy
    November 7, 2008

    As someone on the fringes of the Libertarian plantation, I think the gold standard is impractical. There isn’t enough gold to cover the value of our money supply, as it is. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’ll cover the rest of the world, too. Inflation is bad, but, too tight a money supply can be worse. The world doesn’t need that kind of jolt at this time.

  79. #79 Longtime Lurker
    November 7, 2008

    Rahm Emmanuel is the type who always seems to put party over ideology- his talents are better utilized as Obama’s “fist” while Obama is the “brains” and “heart” of the Democratic Party.

    RFK has a checkered career, while he is abysmal on vaccines and hypocritical on that offshore wind farm, he has accomplished a lot towards cleaning up the Hudson. Maybe a position in Interior would get him off the vaccine subject.

    We need a scientist at head of the EPA. A scientist who is also a lawyer, and/or an economist, and/or a poet, would be great, but a scientist, first and foremost, and one for whom scientific truth is ascendant value. RFK, Jr does not fit the bill.

    It’s just a pity that Buckaroo Banzai was a fictional character!

  80. #80 John Robie
    November 7, 2008

    Rahm Emmanuel is an excellent choice. Obama is inspiring and can move huge numbers, but that won’t impress DC. He needs someone who can walk behind him carrying the axe.

    “Embrace my message of change or my friend will cut your f-ing legs out from under you.”

    Now THAT’S change I can believe in.

  81. #81 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 7, 2008

    my internal dialog

    Ehem. Just saying… I have an internal monolog, what with it being internal and all. :->

    And by laborers, I mean you. If you have not recently received a government bailout, you’re one of us.

    Well put.

    When sticking my head into cloud-cuckoo-land I still see Clinton as chief prosecutor of the warcrimes tribunal.

    Harrrr!!!

    Now, that would be poetic justice. No matter which Clinton, actually. B-) B-) B-)

    To my great embarrassment, I have to agree with John C. Randolph.

    Me three. Forced labor is forced labor. :-|

    the dollar is about to be ruined,

    So? Why then has the ? fallen to 1.27 $, without any hint of catastrophe in Euroland?

    the Chinese and Russia and the ME are in talks of a new currency backed by gold to replace the dollar

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    I can’t stop laughing at the idea that anyone seriously believes something this silly. :-D Backed by gold! By gold! :-D There isn’t enough gold in the world to back all the existing money, moron! Do you really think anyone would be batshit crazy enough to subject themselves to a deflation that would make Chile under Pinochet & Friedman look like fucking Sweden? :-D :-D :-D

    Look, if you smoke ten joints in front of my eyes and then tell me “the Chinese and Russia and the ME” are going to introduce the ? overnight, I’d say “extremely unlikely, but sorta kinda imaginable” — after all, had McPain/Failin’ won, the $ would slowly become toast over the next few years. But “a new currency backed by” :-D :-D :-D “gold” :-D :-D :-D

    I can’t :-D keep typing! :-D

    boggle boggle…

    That’s the kind of vocalization that should be expected from your intellect. :-D No, I’m not laughing at my utterly unoriginal “joke”. I’m still laughing at “backed by gold”… ROTFL!

    Thank you for saving my day and the entire following weekend. Seriously. Sincerely.

    <chortle>

  82. #82 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    Amen, Dr. Myers! Just say no to RFK,Jr.

    As far a Rahm goes, about what I expected out of Obama. I would love to know the names of the Democrat “traitors”
    Rahm said were “dead” at that Democrat dinner party.

    The guys at DU and Daily Kos seem not to like Rahm. I wonder if the true reason is that he is Jewish, or is it that he isn’t left of Stalin.

  83. #83 Longtime Lurker
    November 7, 2008

    boggle boggle…

    Evidence that SfO is a dyslexic turkey!

  84. #84 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 7, 2008

    That would certainly be a game-changer. If Russia and China give us a new gold standard, they will have done more for freedom that I would have ever thought possible given their history.

    And that little tool believes this hilarious insanity! :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Will the fun ever cease. I should probably replace my ribs with cartilage so they don’t break from laughing.

    Sound money would mean a very sharp reduction in the power of governments all over the world. When they can’t just inflate money to pay all the soldiers and bureaucrats and bribes they want, they’ll have to become responsive to their people.

    Already forgotten about Pinochet? When the costs of living shrink, so do everyone’s wages.

    Not one but TWO people believing in this most obvious of out-of-time April jokes! I have a bridge to Ketchikan to sell you for three fine ounces of 24-carat gold. :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

  85. #85 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    EricA, back and snarking. You snarked first, so any ridicule by us is earned through the golden rule.

  86. #86 Robert N. Lee
    November 7, 2008

    I’m with you on RFK, but…Emanuel? I’m sure you must remember the nineties and how the GOP made the thwarting and destruction of the last Democratic president pretty much its *sole purpose* for eight years. Nothing’s gotten better since then, and while the recent and ongoing implosion in the GOP may afford the Obama administration some grace Clinton didn’t get starting out, it’s also only going to exacerbate that Kill ‘em All spirit on the part of the social conservative base and their reps.

    Obama’s up against another messy and potentially hindering fight with Congress and needs a fucking pit bull running his staff. Emanuel seems like a decent choice to me, in that regard.

  87. #87 jt512
    November 7, 2008

    Here’s my letter to the transition team:

    As an epidemiologist I am concerned about the integrity of science in public policy. I thus find it alarming that Robert Kennedy, Jr, a notorious anti-vaccination crank, may be under consideration to head the EPA.

    Environmental policy must be based on sound science. However, Mr. Kennedy has established a track record of abusing and misrepresenting science to promote a completely unfounded connection between childhood vaccinations and autism.

    In his response to Science Debate 2008, Senator Obama wrote, “I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best- available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees.” Appointing Mr, Kennedy to head the EPA would not be consistent with this promise.

  88. #88 jt512
    November 7, 2008

    Hmmm, well, all three of those paragraphs were supposed to be part of the quoted letter.

  89. #89 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    Nerd. I see you are still avoiding any questions on “The One.”

  90. #90 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    And EricA, you are still avoiding the real reason you keep posting here.

  91. #91 Scott from Oregon
    November 7, 2008

    Laugh all you want, I was laughd at a couple of years ago when I got abruptly out the real estate market, sold for a hefty profit, bought a nice couple of acres with a nice house for cash and semi-retired at 45. Not bad for a guy who didn’t start working seriously until he was 40…

    I said they were talking. They may find gold backing impractical, but the fact that they are trying to get away from the dollar SHOULD tell you something.

    Right now, the fact that Russians and Saudis buy US 100 dollar bills keeps us printing money and believing we have something super valuable, so we aren’t suffering the inflation ourselves we create by having a government spend like they rule the world…

    As they come to realize they are holding crap, they will happily move away from a currency that values debt and consumption over productivity and into a currency where they don’t have to listen to the dictations of American administrations and their bankster buddies…

    I only repeat this because I figure SOME people might wake up and then explain it to those still sleeping…

    Since I am retired, it takes little time to point this out to those still stuck in the “I hate Rethuglican” left/right nonsensical paradigm…

  92. #92 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 7, 2008

    Nerd, going by one of asshole’s recent posts, it is because he likes to accuse liberals of being either nazis or communists. In other words, he is spreading his stink.

  93. #93 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    Yeah Janine, I think EA wants PZ to bar him. That way he can brag to his buddies.

  94. #94 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    What do you think you are Nerd, so kind of “call screener?”

    I post here because I want to. As long as Dr. Myers doesn’t ban me I will continue to do so.

    All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
    H. L. Mencken

    Change “newspaper” to “blog.”

  95. #95 Scott from Oregon
    November 7, 2008

    “”” There isn’t enough gold in the world to back all the existing money, moron! “””

    What existing money. You mean existing paper?

    As anyone holding a note on a house knows, the “value’ is all a perception.

    Care to hazard a guess as to what happens when the perception of the dollar becomes “there’s nothing backing this”?

    Weeeeeeee….

  96. #96 fatherdaddy
    November 7, 2008

    There is more to the value of money than paper. I don’t use paper when I use a debit card. A loan is in paper, but not cash. If you want to back up a trillion dollar economy with a billion dollars in gold you are fooling yourself as much as any theist.

  97. #97 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    Nerd, I don’t have any buddies to brag to

    And no, I don’t want to get put in the “Dungeon.” But if it happens, so be it.

  98. #98 fatherdaddy
    November 7, 2008

    And before you get all anal on me, no, I don’t know the real value of the economy. I sincerely doubt there is enough gold on the planet to back up the world economy, much less Americas.

  99. #99 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    And Nerd. Since you are still avoiding any criticism of Obama, maybe you could take a page from Dr. Myers and say something about what I posted , instead of how or why I posted.

  100. #100 fatherdaddy
    November 7, 2008

    To further derail this thread, the value of gold is just as subjective as anything else.

  101. #101 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: Eric Atkinson | November 7, 2008

    Nerd, I don’t have any buddies to brag to

    Why am I not surprised?

  102. #102 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    EricA, as soon as you post something cogent, I’ll respond in kind. You snark, and I’ll attack why you posted. You need to learn how to keep things civil, which means dropping the snark. Once you do, you may find people responding to you nicer.

  103. #103 Scott
    November 7, 2008

    Re: Rahm Emanuel

    Designated asshole would be the right title. In the military, that is exactly what the second in command, the Executive Officer (XO), is supposed to be. He’s supposed to be the ball breaker who makes everyone else leap higher than they thought possible when the Commanding Officer says “jump”. It’s definitely the well tested good-cop/bad-cop model. You don’t have to be abrasive and profane to be a good XO, but it fits the job description.

  104. #104 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    Still not going to talk about what I said.

    Thats OK.

  105. #105 Matt
    November 7, 2008

    I have no problem with the choice of Emanuel, and I won’t weigh in on speculation, because its just that.

    I think the choice of Emanuel may well be an inspired one. Yes, I understand he’s known for being partisan, but in Congress, its hard not to be. I’ve seen several comments from Republicans (such as Lindsey Graham, who I typically abhor) expressing admiration for Emanuel.

    The bottom line is that, once president, Obama won’t get things done by inspiration. He needs the legislative branch to pass his agenda. For that, he needs the votes to get it through both houses of Congress. It sounds like Rahm Emanuel may be perfect for that, both because he seems to know everyone, and because he’s unafraid to crack heads.

  106. #106 Eric Atkinson
    November 7, 2008

    “As far a Rahm goes, about what I expected out of Obama. I would love to know the names of the Democrat “traitors”
    Rahm said were “dead” at that Democrat dinner party.”

    Any body care to comment?

  107. #107 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 7, 2008

    I said they were talking. They may find gold backing impractical, but the fact that they are trying to get away from the dollar SHOULD tell you something.

    Everyone has been moving from the $ to the ? since before the Iraq war started. Didn’t you pay attention?

    And how that’s an argument for a gold standard is beyond me boggles the mind…

    As they come to realize they are holding crap, they will happily move away from a currency that values debt and consumption over productivity and into a currency where they don’t have to listen to the dictations of American administrations and their bankster buddies…

    Nobody can ruin the US economy without also ruining their own. And China already has 200 million unemployed… The mind boggles.

    Care to hazard a guess as to what happens when the perception of the dollar becomes “there’s nothing backing this”?

    That’s an argument for reducing the budget deficit, not for returning to the gold standard… The mind boggles.

    As anyone holding a note on a house knows, the “value’ is all a perception.

    And so is the value of gold, see comment 100… The mind boggles.

    If gold had inherent value, why does the price of gold go up and down by factors of 2 or more with every little recession and recovery? Can you eat gold? The mind boggles…

  108. #108 Quiet Desperation
    November 7, 2008

    Woo hoo! Change! Here it comes! Everything’s changing!

    Nobody can ruin the US economy without also ruining their own

    “There are levels of survival we are willing to accept.” – The Architect in Matrix: Reloaded.

    ;-)

  109. #109 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    So he needs an asskicker to do the hard, unpopular shit that needs doing? Fine by me. Anyone who thinks any large group involved in politics is going to be all smiles and sunshine – whatever their political leanings – is an idiot.

  110. #110 Scott from Oregon
    November 7, 2008

    “”There is more to the value of money than paper. I don’t use paper when I use a debit card. A loan is in paper, but not cash. If you want to back up a trillion dollar economy with a billion dollars in gold you are fooling yourself as much as any theist.””

    You don’t use paper when using a debit card… Exactly. You use the percieved value of the numerical digits that pass from one bank to the next through a business, and then you consume the things you bought.

    WHO made the agreement between all parties as to what the value of that consumed item is? The value is percieved. It isn’t real.

    “Everyone has been moving from the $ to the ? since before the Iraq war started. Didn’t you pay attention?”

    Why do you think “everybody” is suddenly suffering because the US mortgage market failed? WHO do you think was holding all of that bad paper with all of the bad loans packaged in them?

    WHO do you think loaned the US all of that money they have no way of paying back because they (we) don’t produce wealth anymore?

    Foreign banks are opening up the crap of goods they bought, because they thought the US was a stable place to put money, and finding… well… a crap of goods…

    China is starting to regret loaning the US all of that money because they are figuring out we can’t pay it back. Russia is worried too that the US dollar will turn out to be the sham it appears to be, and without a booming US economy to keep the sham going, will need a safer place for their money. Saudis are seeing what happens when you rely on a currency provided by a country that no longer produces wealth but prints money, and are eager to establish a safer way to keep the value in the money they got by selling oil…

    “””Nobody can ruin the US economy without also ruining their own. And China already has 200 million unemployed… The mind boggles.”””

    Actually, you got it backwards. The US economy is about to start dragging down other economies, because we are not a productive nation anymore. We are worried about keeping the “credit” flowing, but nobody is talking about where the money will come from that provides that credit. America does not have anymore money. We either have to borrow it (we’re being cut off globally) or print it. If we print it, we need the world to absorb the inflation, or we’ll be hammered here at home.

    If the world moves away from the US dollar, (which it is doing because it opened up the crap of goods it invested in and found American home mortgages) we’ll be hammered here at home.

    The mind boggles is right…

  111. #111 Amplexus
    November 7, 2008

    I actually did the math and found that the amount of gold needed to back even the money in circulation is something like 80,000 short tons of gold. And yes, I made sure to use troy ounces in the conversion.

    There isn’t that much bullion and barely enough bar and coin gold to do this.

  112. #112 BlueIndependent
    November 7, 2008

    I’m glad I’m more informed on the relative ill-preparedness of RFK for that office. Hopefully Obama’s team will be as cautious and level-headed on this pick as they were during the campaign.

  113. #113 Alan Kellogg
    November 7, 2008

    Are we talking pocket change, or spare change?

  114. #114 Sonja
    November 7, 2008

    Thank you! I had the exact same response when I heard the RFK name being floated — I do not trust his judgement since his ridiculous Salon.com vaccination fearmongering article. In fact, it made me skeptical of Salon.com, formerly my favorite online source of opinion.

  115. #115 John C. Randolph
    November 7, 2008

    There isn’t enough gold to cover the value of our money supply, as it is

    Not all at once, no. The way to retire a fiat currency in an orderly fashion is the way that the USA did with the civil war greenbacks. First, you stop inflating the currency.

    Second, you determine the par value of the fiat money in the commodity that you’re going to use to redeem it (gold, silver, etc.). For Federal Reserve Notes 1/1000th of a troy ounce is probably a reasonable value to set.

    Third, you redeem the currency for the commodity over a number of years, and destroy it as its collected.

    If we go back to monetary gold, we’d also see smaller denomination coins made of silver or copper, as we had before.

    -jcr

  116. #116 'Tis Himself
    November 7, 2008

    Whenever I hear or read statements about going back to the gold standard, I know these statements are made by economic illiterates.

    The concept of money isn’t simple. Money is generally considered to have the following characteristics, which are summed up in a rhyme found in older economics textbooks: “Money is a matter of functions four, a medium, a measure, a standard, a store.” That is, money functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a standard of deferred payment, and a store of value.

    * A medium of exchange is an intermediary used in trade to avoid the inconveniences of a pure barter system.
    * A unit of account is a standard monetary unit of measurement of the market value/cost of goods, services, or assets. It lends meaning to profits, losses, liability, or assets.
    * A standard of deferred payment is the accepted way to settle a debt.
    * To act as a store of value, a commodity, a form of money, or financial capital must be able to be reliably saved, stored, and retrieved.

    We’re used to thinking of money in the medium of exchange role. You work for your employer and get paid X dollars per week. You buy a loaf of bread for Y dollars. However, most money described is the unit of account.

    In 1890 my great-grandfather bought a good, gold, pocket watch. It probably cost him $25. A couple of years ago I had the watch’s value assessed for insurance purposes. It’s worth $850. The increase in the watch’s value is due primarily to inflation. The watch originally cost a weeks’ pay for a senior accountant, which is what my ancestor was in 1890. Nowadays $850 is a week’s pay for a senior accountant. This shows how the unit of account can change over time.

    I will not discuss the standard of deferred payment or the store of value concepts because those are rather technical. Instead, let’s consider types of money.

    Commodity money: Value comes from the commodity out of which it is made. The commodity itself constitutes the money, and the money is the commodity. Examples of commodities that have been used as mediums of exchange include gold, silver, copper, rice, salt, peppercorns, large stones, decorated belts, shells, alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, candy, grain, etc. Use of commodity money is similar to barter, but this money provides a simple unit of account for the commodity which is being used as money.

    Representative money consists of token coins, other physical tokens such as certificates, and even non-physical authenticated digital transactions (ADT) that can be reliably exchanged for a fixed quantity of a commodity such as gold, silver or potentially water, oil or food. Representative money thus stands in direct and fixed relation to the commodity which backs it, while not itself being composed of that commodity.

    Fiat money isn’t money coined by Italian auto makers. Rather it’s any money whose value is determined by legal means, rather than the strict availability of goods and services which are named on the representative note. Fiat money is created when a type of credit money (typically notes from a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve or Bank of England) is declared by a government act to be acceptable and officially-recognized payment for all debts, public and private. Fiat money may thus be symbolic of a commodity or a government promise, though not a completely specified amount of either of these. Fiat money is thus not technically fungible or tradable directly for fixed quantities of anything, except more of the same government’s fiat money.

    There are other types of money, like credit money and supply money, but again I’m not going to go into these because I know everyone’s eyes are glazed over already.

    Yes, I am an economist. How did you know?

  117. #117 Longtime Lurker
    November 7, 2008

    I see you are still avoiding any questions on “The One.”

    This whole “The One” meme is really a head-scratcher… does anyone not a right-wing fucktard or Oprah ever refer to President-Elect Barack Hussein (eat it Scott and Eric) Obama as “The One”?

    I would love to know the names of the Democrat “traitors” Rahm said were “dead” at that Democrat dinner party.”

    Why don’t you just take him out to dinner and ask him? Do you feel lucky, punk?

    Do you really think he lost that fingertip working at Arby’s?

  118. #118 craig
    November 7, 2008

    Am I wrong that Rahm was adamantly against the 50 state strategy – the one that got us the house in 2006, and everything we gained this year including Obama?

    He’s a corporatist. He’s DLC, big money donors rule, fuck the small donors, Clintonite, isn’t he?

    Maybe tis is a smart move, to neutralize someone who would otherwise be an enemy, to put them where they can do some good and less evil. I hope so. If not, then it sucks.

  119. #119 Llelldorin
    November 8, 2008

    No, you’re not wrong, but you’re not exactly right either. He was adamantly against the 50-state strategy until he realized it was working, which he did fairly quickly. The man is opinionated as all hell, but (unlike the current mob) he’s sharp enough to realize when he’s wrong and to turn on a dime when necessary. From what I recall, in 2006 he initially opposed the 50-state strategy and the netroots, then realized that both were working brilliantly, turned on a dime, and began pouring DCCC resources into the seats that the netroots had pried loose.

    He’s an asshole, but in the end he’s our asshole. And, as everyone else has said at this point, Obama desperately needs a scary-looking guy with a lead-weighted pool cue. Both the Carter and Clinton administrations suffered desperately from the usual Democratic herd-of-cats syndrome. With Emanuel behind him, maybe Obama won’t.

  120. #120 Michael
    November 8, 2008

    Amazing, I actually agree with PZ on something. I’m not a Rahm fan either and was also concerned about this particular appointment. The man who likes to give out dead fish to pollsters. The man whom Bill Clinton kept out of the loop because he thought Rahm was in it for himself. Not a very good selection, he could have had a better pick on his staff.

  121. #121 The Countess
    November 8, 2008

    #5 Blake Stacey, regarding the wind farm off Martha’s Vineyard, I remember when that was proposed and then trashed. Yeah, RFK, Jr. might have supported wind farms, but not when they would ruin the view of the ocean from the Kennedy compound. Here’s an article about it:

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/12/17/90822.shtml

  122. #122 The Countess
    November 8, 2008

    Rahm Emanual also dismissed female Clinton supporters, saying that they’re going to “stick to their knitting”.

    Another problematic possible appointee is Lawrence Summers. He became infamous when he made statements saying that the lack of women in elite science positions may have been due to their lack of innate ability to handle math and science as well as men when he was President of Harvard. I also understand that he supports deregulation, which is what got the U. S. into the financial mess it’s now in in the first place.

    I’ve had my doubts about Obama/Biden from the onset, but they’re still much better than the colossal disaster McCain/Palin would have been.

  123. #123 Dahan
    November 8, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself @ 116,

    Thank you for putting into plain language some of the basic concepts that a few commentators here apparently will never understand.

  124. #124 Maria
    November 8, 2008

    You guys know the change.gov website, right? You can log on to http://change.gov/page/s/yourvision and send a letter to the transition team asking that they not hire RFK Jr. They may not do it, but it’s worth a shot.

  125. #125 John C. Randolph
    November 8, 2008

    Whenever I hear or read statements about going back to the gold standard, I know these statements are made by economic illiterates.

    Get bent. I’ve read The Theory of Money and Credit by Von Mises, I’ve worked in the finance industry, and if I don’t write out full exposition of monetary theory every time I discuss the matter, that doesn’t mean I’m not familiar with it.

    The gold and silver clause of the constitution only addresses what the government is allowed to do (coinage) and it prohibits laws that establish anything other than gold or silver as legal tender. This places no restriction at all on anyone other than the government offering a credit system, or money backed or not backed by any other commodity.

    What I want is for us to have freedom from the mandatory fiat system that allows the Fed to rob us by creating currency out of thin air every time the congress can be arm-twisted into bailing out the banks when they make bad loans.

    -jcr

  126. #126 John C. Randolph
    November 8, 2008

    deregulation, which is what got the U. S. into the financial mess it’s now in in the first place.

    Guess again.

    We’re living through the correction made necessary by years of the Federal Reserve lending money out below the rate of inflation. (In other words, a negative real rate of interest.)

    When the Fed inflates the money like this, it’s going to cause malinvestment and market bubbles. This can’t be avoided. Their first big one was the stock bubble of the 1920s, and some other notable ones were the overvaluing of third-world debt in the 1970s, the dot com bubble in the late 1990s and the current real estate bubble.

    George Reisman did a very good job of dismantling that “deregulation caused the problem” canard, which you can read here:

    http://georgereisman.com/blog/2008/10/myth-that-laissez-faire-is-responsible.html

    -jcr

  127. #127 John C. Randolph
    November 8, 2008

    He’s a corporatist. He’s DLC, big money donors rule, fuck the small donors, Clintonite, isn’t he?

    Sorry to break it to you, but all of the above applies just as well to Obama (except the “Clintonite” tag.)

    Obama voted for the bailout. He’s part of the problem. I know he sounds good when you listen to him give a speech, but his record to date is not in any way encouraging.

    -jcr

  128. #128 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Just got this comment on my blog on a post about RFK Jr.

    If the Obama people are smart, and I think they have show they are, they will stay away from atheists like you, PZ Myers, etc. who could cost them support for their economic and foreign policy.

    Moron.
    Concerned Poster

    I’m so proud that mr. concerned poster thinks there is a chance that the Obama campaign would listen to me.

    I’m going to give old Barak a call and see if he wants to shoot some hoops.

  129. #129 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 8, 2008

    PSST! CHIMPY! NOT SO LOUD!

    Chimpy, you are coming dangerously close to revealing that the socialist/atheist/muslim conspiracy is but a small circle. Say no more!

  130. #130 tootiredtothink
    November 8, 2008

    “Obama voted for the bailout. He’s part of the problem.”

    Funny how those that didn’t vote for the bailout lost a lot of their seats or were severly endangered. The bailout may have been flawed but it was unfortently necessary at the time. That is why Obama voted for it as did many others.

    The Republicans opposed the bailout the first time it was up for vote guess what happened they got a shitstorm of emails, letters, phone calls that caused them to change their mind on the revote. It was considered political suicide not to vote for the bailout.

    Also the stimulus can do wonders in the short term especially to people that are being hurt by the economic downturn. If properly aimed it can ease a lot of debts and keep people in their homes.

  131. #131 'Tis Himself
    November 8, 2008

    George Reisman did a very good job of dismantling that “deregulation caused the problem” canard

    Gee, a laissez-faire free marketeer and student of von Mises thinks free markets are the ultimate panacea for all economic ills. Who’d athunk it?

  132. #132 John C. Randolph
    November 8, 2008

    The bailout may have been flawed but it was unfortently necessary at the time.

    Funny, that’s the same thing I heard about the war, the patriot act, and many other unconstitutional measures that the Bush administration convinced the congress to allow.

    a shitstorm of emails, letters, phone calls that caused them to change their mind on the revote.

    Not even close. The flood of messages from constituents was overwhelmingly against the bailout, and the turncoats who changed their votes did so because of intimidation from their party leadership, plus an additional $150 billion of funding for various pet projects of the congressmen in question.

    The bailout is not only unnecessary, it is detrimental to recovery. Until and unless the bad debt is liquidated, there’s no way to determine who’s solvent and who isn’t, and that’s why the banks aren’t lending out the money they just got.

    It’s the very same thing that happened when Japan’s real estate bubble collapsed, and the Japanese government decided that they couldn’t let any of their banks go under.

    Bush and Obama are both bound and determined to repeat Hoover and Roosevelt’s mistakes.

    -jcr

  133. #133 'Tis Himself
    November 8, 2008

    I need to preview my posts. The only words in #131 that should have been italicized were laissez-faire.

  134. #134 John C. Randolph
    November 8, 2008

    Gee, a laissez-faire free marketeer and student of von Mises thinks free markets are the ultimate panacea for all economic ills. Who’d athunk it?

    Gee, no attempt to refute even a single one of Reisman’s points. Why am I not surprised?

    You can deny it all you want, but von Mises predicted this kind of outcome in The Theory of Money and Credit. It’s the people of the Von MIses Institute who were sounding the alarm about the real estate bubble right from the beginning.

    -jcr

  135. #135 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    The Countess @122 – Hooooooot Damn, that’s one hell of a website you’ve got!

  136. #136 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    OMG, Obama is to my right!!! So he’s no better than Bush and McCain!!

    Cue up Voltaire.

  137. #137 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Hey TM – Jams is over on the Palin thread in need of some advise from you. Enjoy.

  138. #138 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    And, as everyone else has said at this point, Obama desperately needs a scary-looking guy with a lead-weighted pool cue.

    The same people who said Obama is a namby-pamby compromiser who will concede everything to the Republicans are now saying that he’s acting just like a Republican in choosing Emanuel.

    Here’s something that some people aren’t able to wrap their minds around: a glass that is half empty is simultaneously half full.

  139. #139 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Another problematic possible appointee is Lawrence Summers. He became infamous when he made statements saying that the lack of women in elite science positions may have been due to their lack of innate ability to handle math and science as well as men when he was President of Harvard.

    What he said was that it was possible that factors other than socialization might explain the evident lack, among them that there’s more variance among males, making them more common at the extremes, and that such possibilities should be scientifically investigated as part of the process of developing policies that increase the numbers of women in math and science — something to which he has devoted much energy. He can be criticized for underplaying the considerable social barriers women face, but most of the criticism has been based on mischaracterizations of what he said and ignorance of his positions. The way this works is that people read a negative comment about someone, and then further simplify it and add their own spin. Before long, Al Gore’s a liar, Obama’s a socialist, and Summers is a misogynist.

  140. #140 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    P.S. Here is Summers’ speech. One can find many things to criticize, but “he made statements saying that the lack of women in elite science positions may have been due to their lack of innate ability to handle math and science” is a gross mischaracterization. What he is talking about is a difference in the standard deviations of various traits among male and female populations.

  141. #141 SC
    November 8, 2008

    One can find many things to criticize, but “he made statements saying that the lack of women in elite science positions may have been due to their lack of innate ability to handle math and science” is a gross mischaracterization.

    Really. Please, everyone, read the speech and judge for yourselves.

    What he is talking about is a difference in the standard deviations of various traits among male and female populations.

    You disappoint me. Oh, well.

  142. #142 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    You’re having a rough day SC. Better have a nice cool drink.:)

  143. #143 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    So much for the science candidate.

    Uh, on the basis of no more than a rumor about an appointment? (Interesting that PZ equates a rumor about RFKJr with an established fact about Emanuel.)

    So much for the new Camelot. It looks like the shine is wearing off of Obama pretty quickly. This is what I expected, though.

    Me too, because so many people are idiots about politics.

    That is why I couldn’t vote for him

    Because, four days after the election, people start running around like the sky is falling because he might be imperfect?

    and chose the other aging white guy (not McPalin).

    The bitter fellow who said that Obama can choose between being Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom, or the one who used to have his name on a racist newsletter? (Of course, neither of them are defined by that, any more than Obama is defined by one appointment and a rumor of another.)

  144. #144 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    You disappoint me. Oh, well.

    And you disappoint me again because it’s a fact that he was talking about that, whereas inferring from someone not saying something that they totally refuse to do so is ridiculous and grossly intellectually dishonest.

  145. #145 SC
    November 8, 2008

    You’re having a rough day SC. Better have a nice cool drink.:)

    Already have. :)

    whereas inferring from someone not saying something that they totally refuse to do so is ridiculous and grossly intellectually dishonest.

    Have fun in Boston.

  146. #146 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Really. Please, everyone, read the speech and judge for yourselves.

    Yes, really: “there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population”. If you want to argue to the contrary, than provide a quote to that effect, don’t just blither about about how people can judge for themselves — it makes you look like a blind ideologue.

  147. #147 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Have fun in Boston.

    I will, without you, asshole. “Silly man”, indeed; you’re just as shallow as I suspected.

  148. #148 Nick Gotts
    November 8, 2008

    Bush and Obama are both bound and determined to repeat Hoover and Roosevelt’s mistakes. -jcr

    Same old, same old crap. The Great Depression kept getting worse as long as Hoover and the Fed waited for “the market” to sort it out. Once Roosevelt started The New Deal, recovery began. The statistics are absolutely clear, as shown on a previous thread: GDP and tax take up consistently, unemployment down consistently. Repeating your fantasies doesn’t make them true.

    Oh and jcr, it really doesn’t take an economic genius to predict that a financial bubble is going to burst.

  149. #149 zay?flama
    November 8, 2008

    He may be partisan, but he is also likely to be effective, and I think that is a more important quality.

  150. #150 SC
    November 8, 2008

    I will, without you, asshole. “Silly man”, indeed; you’re just as shallow as I suspected.

    No, I’m a human being. You have no social intelligence and can’t tell the difference between a legitimate argument and a patronizing personal attack. Has it occurred to you why PZ has threatened to ban you, or are you too fucking socially dimwitted to recognize that you can’t treat people you claim to like, respect, or care about like trash?

  151. #151 SC
    November 8, 2008

    you’re just as shallow as I suspected.

    Fuck you, you hurtful prick.

  152. #152 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    A legimate argument? You aren’t engaging in that.

    Goodbye.

  153. #153 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Fuck you, you hurtful prick.

    Fuck you, you hypocritical cunt.

  154. #154 SC
    November 8, 2008

    Fuck you, you hypocritical cunt.

    And your true self emerges. I dodged a bullet there.

  155. #155 Nick Gotts
    November 8, 2008

    the Chinese and Russia and the ME are in talks of a new currency backed by gold to replace the dollar – SfO@74

    I’ve got SfO kill-filed, but when I couldn’t find who David Marjanovi? and John C. Randolph were quoting, I guessed it must be him. Source for this utterly implausible claim? I suppose the Chinese and Russian governments have appointed SfO as their economic advisor! Either that, or it’s from some batshit crazy loonytarian website, which copied it from another one, which…

  156. #156 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    ARRRRGH!

    Stop it TM, when I start liking you just fine, you always do this.

    Well, I love you SC. *blush*
    Now I’m going to have a STRONG cool drink.

  157. #157 SC
    November 8, 2008

    Well, I love you SC. *blush*

    Love you, too.*blush*

  158. #158 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    And your true self emerges. I dodged a bullet there.

    Hypocrite. prick/cunt is parallel construction.

    You’re a shallow ideologue who can’t tolerate someone not toeing the line on Summers. So sorry to disappoint you.

  159. #159 SC
    November 8, 2008

    Hypocrite. prick/cunt is parallel construction.

    No, it isn’t.

    You’re a shallow ideologue who…

    Words have no effect in your world, do they? You wouldn’t know sensitive if you fucking tripped over it.

  160. #160 SC
    November 8, 2008

    And why don’t you answer my question?:

    Has it occurred to you why PZ has threatened to ban you, or are you too fucking socially dimwitted to recognize that you can’t treat people you claim to like, respect, or care about like trash?

  161. #161 Nick Gotts
    November 8, 2008

    Whenever I hear or read statements about going back to the gold standard, I know these statements are made by economic illiterates. – ‘Tis himself

    Get bent. I’ve read The Theory of Money and Credit by Von Mises

    ROFL! As ‘Tis himself said, an economic illiterate.

  162. #162 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    No, it isn’t.

    Is so. And even if it isn’t, that’s what motivated my use, so your inference isn’t valid.

    Words have no effect in your world, do they? You wouldn’t know sensitive if you fucking tripped over it.

    Go have another drink.

    Over and out.

  163. #163 SC
    November 8, 2008

    Is so. And even if it isn’t, that’s what motivated my use, so your inference isn’t valid.

    It isn’t. So you’re not a misogynist – just an asshole. So sorry we won’t be meeting up.

    Go have another drink.

    Go to hell.

  164. #164 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Sheesh.
    Well that took the twinkle out of my twirl.

  165. #165 Nick Gotts
    November 8, 2008

    Time for bed. Goodnight to all present except Eric Atkinson and truth machine, and particularly to SC.

  166. #166 John Morales
    November 8, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself @116, thank you for that post.

    I found it very informative.

  167. #167 SC
    November 8, 2008

    …and particularly to SC.

    Thanks, kind man. I needed that. Good night and sweet dreams.

  168. #168 truth machine, OM
    November 8, 2008

    just an asshole

    Everyone’s got one in them, “sweet” hypocrite.

  169. #169 SC
    November 8, 2008

    “sweet” hypocrite

    I’m sweeter than you’ll never know.

  170. #170 John Morales
    November 8, 2008

    regarding truth machine, I’ve noted an exceedingly wide variance in the tone of his posts. It’s like we’re seeing the same knowledge and intellect, but the personality (and especially the tolerance threshold) changes over time.

  171. #171 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    I was sweet, but now ol’ Piltdown Yuck is trying to flirt with me.

  172. #172 'Tis Himself
    November 8, 2008

    John C. Randolph #125

    Get bent. I’ve read The Theory of Money and Credit by Von Mises…

    As I said, an economic illiterate.

    If you think I’m impressed that you’ve read a book by an economist whose main followers are libertarians, please disabuse yourself of that notion.

    Why I Am Not an Austrian Economist

    …I’ve worked in the finance industry, and if I don’t write out full exposition of monetary theory every time I discuss the matter, that doesn’t mean I’m not familiar with it.

    If you were familiar with monetary theory, then you’d know that returning to the gold standard is a lousy idea. Do you honestly think that there’s enough gold in the world to back two or more of the G8’s economies, let alone all of them?

    The gold and silver clause of the constitution only addresses what the government is allowed to do (coinage) and it prohibits laws that establish anything other than gold or silver as legal tender. This places no restriction at all on anyone other than the government offering a credit system, or money backed or not backed by any other commodity.

    I see that besides basic economics, you’re unfamiliar with the Constitution. The only mention of gold and silver in the Constitution is:

    Section 10 – Powers prohibited of States: No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

    States are forbidden to issue fiat money (and coinage), not the federal government. Sorry, you fail.

    What I want is for us to have freedom from the mandatory fiat system that allows the Fed to rob us by creating currency out of thin air every time the congress can be arm-twisted into bailing out the banks when they make bad loans.

    Does the word “deflation” mean anything to you?

    For gold currencies to be valid, the issuer should be able to deliver value/energy on redemption of currency. Otherwise, gold currency has no mechanism to satisfy the “delivery of value” function to be real currency. Gold does not have inherent value/energy so exchange value has to be negotiated during each transaction. During times of scarcities like famine, exchange value of gold goes down drastically.

    It’s difficult to manipulate a gold standard to tailor to an economy’s demand for money, giving central banks fewer options to respond to economic crises. Also, the gold standard is susceptible to speculative attacks when a government’s financial position appears weak. The US was forced to raise its interest rates in the middle of the Great Depression to defend the credibility of its currency.

    I suspect that, like many libertarians, your major argument in favor of the gold standard is that you object to central banks issuing fiat money.

  173. #173 tootiredoftheright
    November 8, 2008

    Why did people think RFK Jr. would get it? His name was proposed by people outside the Obama campaign along with several others.

    Lisa P. Jackson, commissioner of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

    Mary Nichols, head of California Air Resources Board.

    Kathleeen McGinty, former secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
    Are some of the ones being bandied about now.

  174. #174 Robert
    November 9, 2008

    I believe that Deepak Chopra should both be Obama’s science advisor and head of the EPA.

  175. #175 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 9, 2008

    I believe that Deepak Chopra should both be Obama’s science advisor and head of the EPA.

    Whatever you are snorting, I want some.

  176. #176 Patricia
    November 9, 2008

    Deepak Chopra?!

    Ha! Ha, ha ha Ha!

    No, vote for my Bulldog Ruby.

    Ruby for advisor.

  177. #177 Michael B
    November 9, 2008

    I agree with those who say that Rahm is a initially a great pick. Unfortunately I think you need an SOB to get things done in Washington, and keep squabbling competing dems from eating Obama alive with spending requests. Remember Obama is the president – not Rahm. I did read an article suggesting something to the effect that if he’s too much of an SOB, he may be gone in a year.

    I don’t know much about RFK’s science views. In his defense, he does have some pretty outspoken progressive views which I generally agree with. But of course, the best qualified person should have the job. He may be an insider due to Cathleen Kennedy – who’s served as an advisor to Obama.

    An interesting pick would be Al Gore – but I think he’d probably think that pick would be beneath his dignity.

    A great pick would be James Hansen – but I don’t know if he could deal with the politics.

  178. #178 gaypaganunitarianagnostic
    November 9, 2008

    Give Obama a CHANCE for Goddess sake. The rightwing is screaming ‘AntiChrist,’ and the left is saying ‘Just the same as always.’ Let him get inagurated before impeaching him, OK?

  179. #179 Reynold
    November 9, 2008

    I am not an american, so I can’t do anything directly; I did however post a link to this blog article to this forum, where some people are writing letters to try to get Obama to change his mind.

    Anyone who can spread the word around, should.

    With all due respect, gaypaganunitarianagnostic at #178, “giving him a chance” is the last thing that we should do. Once a bad choice is made, it’s done and it will be very hard to undo, and in the meantime, much damage can result.

    Your country can not afford the luxury of letting their leaders make mistakes right off the bat like that. This is a guy who’s portrayed himself as more reasonable then the Repugs, so now is the time to exercise more than just your right to vote. Make your voices heard now, and as many times as needed during this administration so that you can get the best choices out of your government while you have it.

    There’s a lot of work that needs to be done; the time to start is now.

  180. #180 Nick Gotts
    November 9, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself,

    Thanks for the link to the paper on Austrian economics. It confirms my view that it is even further from reality than neoclassical economics!

  181. #181 The Countess
    November 9, 2008

    Patricia #135, yeah, that’s me. I’m a sex writer and I write erotic romance novels and erotica. Life is lots of fun around my house. :)

  182. #182 'Tis Himself
    November 9, 2008

    Thanks for the link to the paper on Austrian economics. It confirms my view that it is even further from reality than neoclassical economics!

    Anyone who claims that economics has more than a nodding acquaintance with the real world is either an optimist or a liar.

    Having watched, thankfully from afar, what the Chicago Boys did to the Chilean economy in the 1970s and early 1980s, I am not a fan of laissez-faire free markets. By 1980 Chilean unemployment was almost 25%, inflation was 1000% per year, and the living standard of workers and many members of the middle class eroded to subsistence levels. Chile suffered a serious economic crisis in 1982, where GDP plummeted by 14%, and unemployment reached 33%.

    After the economic crisis of 1982, Hernan Buchi became Minister of Finance. He allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. While privatization of companies continued, the market became more regulated. Buchi saw that basic state obligations, such as resuming payment of principal and interest installments, were honored. As a result, foreign and IMF/World Bank loans resumed.

    In short, from 1975 to 1982 laissez-faire free markets were given a free rein, social services and other governmental spending (except for the military) was cut, and life for 80% of the population became grim. After the 1982 crisis, markets and banks were re-regulated and the economy was stabilized. The lesson is that too little market regulation can be as ruinous as too much.

  183. #183 Patricia
    November 9, 2008

    The Countess @181 – I really like your website. The frankness of your review of the products is a breath of fresh air.

  184. #184 The Countess
    November 9, 2008

    Thanks, Patricia. I’ve been a sex blogger for about a year now. I have a sex column with a British pop culture e-zine, and I write for sex toys companies. I love my work very much. :)

  185. #185 SC
    November 9, 2008

    Nice site, Countess.

  186. #186 John C. Randolph
    November 9, 2008

    The Great Depression kept getting worse as long as Hoover and the Fed waited for “the market” to sort it out.

    What’s your next guess?

    Hoover didn’t wait for the market to sort it out. He undertook massive interventions, which FDR continued and increased.

    History’s repeating itself as we speak. Bush offered up the bailout, which Obama voted for. Inflation is offered as the remedy to problems caused by inflation. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t tragic.

    -jcr

  187. #187 John C. Randolph
    November 9, 2008
  188. #188 John C. Randolph
    November 9, 2008

    Oh and jcr, it really doesn’t take an economic genius to predict that a financial bubble is going to burst.

    Nobody claims that it does. In fact, I’m sure that any of the Austrian-school economists who predicted it while the government and the banksters were pretending that real estate could only go up, would make no more claim than having a keen grasp of the obvious.

    The question is, why didn’t any of the geniuses working for the Fed see it coming and take action to avoid it? Even more, why in the world is the congress doing the bidding of those who created the crisis?

    -jcr

  189. #189 John C. Randolph
    November 9, 2008

    As I said, an economic illiterate.

    As I said, get bent. Von Mises wrote the definitive work on money and credit, and when his insights are ignored (as governments and central banks routinely do), the consequences he predicted inevitably occur. This is happening right now, and the facts don’t go away merely because you refuse to acknowledge them.

    States are forbidden to issue fiat money (and coinage), not the federal government.

    The federal government isn’t authorized to do anything more than coin money. The constitution is a delegation of powers, not a list of everything the federal government isn’t permitted to do. See the tenth amendment: powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or the people.

    -jcr

  190. #190 'Tis Himself
    November 9, 2008

    Von Mises wrote the definitive work on money and credit

    In the opinion of the von Mises Institute. Most other economists have other opinions.

    and when his insights are ignored (as governments and central banks routinely do), the consequences he predicted inevitably occur.

    Or else the consequences don’t occur.

    John, you’re a libertarian. As a result, you’re attracted to von Mises, Hayek, Rothbart, and the rest of the Austrian School. Austrian economists are considered non-mainstream by other economists. Von Mises couldn’t get a tenured professorship when he came to the US because, quite frankly, he was considered a kook.

    The federal government isn’t authorized to do anything more than coin money.

    Okay, I got you. You’re pretending that since fiat money isn’t specifically mentioned in the Constitution, then the federal government is minting money illegally. Too bad the rest of the country, including the courts and everyone except libertarian wackos (but I repeat myself), don’t agree.

    I explained some of the problems of returning to the gold standard. If you really want to prove that you’re not an economic illiterate, then respond to that. Don’t whine about how I’m not impressed by von Mises.

  191. #191 John Morales
    November 9, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself, I’m not knowledgeable regarding economic theory, but I sure as hell can distinguish between bluster and whining. JCR is employing the former.

  192. #192 John C. Randolph
    November 10, 2008

    Von Mises couldn’t get a tenured professorship when he came to the US because, quite frankly, he was considered a kook.

    At the same time that the Keynesians were steering the economy off a cliff.

    Or else the consequences don’t occur.

    How many examples would you like? We’re living through one of them right now.

    You’re pretending that since fiat money isn’t specifically mentioned in the Constitution, then the federal government is minting money illegally.

    No, you’re pretending that they’re minting money. They’re actually issuing bills of credit, which they’re not authorized to do.

    -jcr

  193. #193 John C. Randolph
    November 10, 2008

    I explained some of the problems of returning to the gold standard.

    If you actually want to argue the matter of sound money vs. fiat money, I’m game.

    If you really want to prove that you’re not an economic illiterate, then respond to that.

    If you really want to prove that you have any valid points, then quit trying to bluff with the standard pseudo-intellectual put down. It’s snotty as hell, and it does nothing to support your position.

    -jcr

  194. #194 SC
    November 11, 2008

    BTW, here’s a decent article on Summers’ speech (which, again, really speaks for itself):

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2206/stories/20050325000908300.htm

    Incidentally, I was at Harvard a couple of years before this incident doing research and working for a female professor, and I know what the institutional environment was for women there under his presidency.

  195. #195 Nick Gotts
    November 11, 2008

    The question is, why didn’t any of the geniuses working for the Fed see it coming and take action to avoid it? – jcr

    I don’t know, not being psychic: they may have fooled themselves that this time, asset prices would go on rising forever; they may have realised a crash would happen eventually, but hoped it wouldn’t happen on their watch; they may have been bribed or bullied by private bankers. The point is, the fact that Austrian economists predicted it does nothing whatever to validate their theories, since many others did too.

    Even more, why in the world is the congress doing the bidding of those who created the crisis?

    Because urgent action was necessary to stop commerce grinding to a fault. The time for inquests to be held and heads to roll is after the immediate threat of disaster has been fended off. What got through Congress was a lowest common denominator: what could get through in the time available.

    I notice you have the same tendency as SfO to appoint yourself guardian and interpreter of the US Constitution. If you’re right, it would appear to have been a dead letter for some time now.

  196. #196 Anthony Henry Smith
    November 11, 2008

    Keep RFK out of EPA

    The job at the EPA calls for someone with a keen sense of both ethics and science. Kennedy is not that person.

    The following letter was written in support of Robert H. Boyle (founder of Riverkeeper and author of “The Hudson River, A natural and unnatural history”) and others who resigned from Riverkeeper rather than support R. F. Kennedy, Jr.’s compromise of the principle that ethics must never be separate from science.

    This letter was first published in the Putnam County News and Recorder, Cold Spring, New York, on August 30, 2000 and they have carried it on their website ever since for which they have my thanks. (AHS, 2008)

    Letters:

    Supports Former Riverkeeper Board Members’ Action
    Editor,

    The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers, Inc. supports Robert H. Boyle, former president of the Riverkeeper, Inc. and former Riverkeeper, Inc. board members John Fry, treasurer, Nancy Abraham, Kathryn Belous Boyle, Pat Crow, Theresa Hanczor, Robert Hodes, Ann Tonetti and Alexander Zagoreas in the action they have taken in resigning from Riverkeeper in opposition to the hiring of a convicted environmental felon to serve in the position of staff scientist on the staff of Riverkeeper.

    In issuing this statement of support, The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers wishes to emphasize that ethics cannot be separated from science and that the environmental movement will prosper best in an atmosphere of demonstrated personal responsibility and earned mutual respect.

    We encourage individuals as well as environmental organizations to join us in similar expressions of support for the principled stand taken by Boyle and fellow board members in their defense of the ethical integrity of the environmental movement here in the Hudson River Valley.

    Boyle and 8 of the 22 Riverkeeper board members resigned from Riverkeeper, Inc. in protest of the hiring of William Wegner. For eight years Wegner operated a ring of smugglers who stole bird eggs directly from the nests of protected cockatoo species in Australia. Wegner and his ring then smuggled the eggs by air to the United States. Birds that hatched and survived were then sold for as much as $12,500.00 each. A federal judge accepted Wegner’s plea of guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax fraud and sentenced him to five years in prison. The judge also found that Wegner had attempted to obstruct justice by committing perjury at the trial of a co-defendant Wegner paid a $10,000.00 fine.

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has stated that everyone deserves a second chance and notes that he himself had been given a second chance in that he had once been convicted of a drug offense.

    We note, however, that Kennedy’s offense was essentially a victimless crime while Wegner’s offense was a crime against the environment, the people of Australia, the people of the United States and against the birds. In order to avoid detection during the flight, smugglers flushed newly hatched chicks down the plane’s toilet

    Although Wegner has been convicted and served his sentence, nothing he or anyone else can do will correct the damage he has done or make his victims whole again.

    Wegner’s prison sentence seems to have done little to improve his ethical sense. The resume Wegner submitted to Riverkeeper accounts for his period of incarceration without referring to the fact of the incarceration itself Wegner describes work he performed and omits the significant information that he performed this work while he was serving time as a prison inmate.

    Kennedy overstepped his position as attorney for Riverkeeper when, in November of 1999, he hired Wegner. Boyle terminated Wegner after learning of the hiring and upon review of Wegner’s resume, court records and media accounts. The matter came to a climax at a board meeting on June 20th when Kennedy insisted that Wegner be rehired over Boyle’s objection.

    While we hope Riverkeeper continues to work to produce changed human beings who think and act differently in regard to the Hudson River and all that pertains to it, we also recognize the primary mission of Riverkeeper is not the rehabilitation of Wegner or of those like him.

    Sincerely,

    Anthony Henry Smith
    Fishkill

    (for The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers)
    (Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage, a separate organization, has also supported this letter from their beginning.)

  197. #197 Anthony Henry Smith
    November 11, 2008

    Keep RFK out of EPA

    The job at the EPA calls for someone with a keen sense of both ethics and science. Kennedy is not that person.

    The following letter was written in support of Robert H. Boyle (founder of Riverkeeper and author of “The Hudson River, A natural and unnatural history”) and others who resigned from Riverkeeper rather than support R. F. Kennedy, Jr.’s compromise of the principle that ethics must never be separate from science.

    This letter was first published in the Putnam County News and Recorder, Cold Spring, New York, on August 30, 2000 and they have carried it on their website ever since for which they have my thanks. (AHS, 2008)

    Letters:

    Supports Former Riverkeeper Board Members’ Action
    Editor,

    The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers, Inc. supports Robert H. Boyle, former president of the Riverkeeper, Inc. and former Riverkeeper, Inc. board members John Fry, treasurer, Nancy Abraham, Kathryn Belous Boyle, Pat Crow, Theresa Hanczor, Robert Hodes, Ann Tonetti and Alexander Zagoreas in the action they have taken in resigning from Riverkeeper in opposition to the hiring of a convicted environmental felon to serve in the position of staff scientist on the staff of Riverkeeper.

    In issuing this statement of support, The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers wishes to emphasize that ethics cannot be separated from science and that the environmental movement will prosper best in an atmosphere of demonstrated personal responsibility and earned mutual respect.

    We encourage individuals as well as environmental organizations to join us in similar expressions of support for the principled stand taken by Boyle and fellow board members in their defense of the ethical integrity of the environmental movement here in the Hudson River Valley.

    Boyle and 8 of the 22 Riverkeeper board members resigned from Riverkeeper, Inc. in protest of the hiring of William Wegner. For eight years Wegner operated a ring of smugglers who stole bird eggs directly from the nests of protected cockatoo species in Australia. Wegner and his ring then smuggled the eggs by air to the United States. Birds that hatched and survived were then sold for as much as $12,500.00 each. A federal judge accepted Wegner’s plea of guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax fraud and sentenced him to five years in prison. The judge also found that Wegner had attempted to obstruct justice by committing perjury at the trial of a co-defendant Wegner paid a $10,000.00 fine.

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has stated that everyone deserves a second chance and notes that he himself had been given a second chance in that he had once been convicted of a drug offense.

    We note, however, that Kennedy’s offense was essentially a victimless crime while Wegner’s offense was a crime against the environment, the people of Australia, the people of the United States and against the birds. In order to avoid detection during the flight, smugglers flushed newly hatched chicks down the plane’s toilet

    Although Wegner has been convicted and served his sentence, nothing he or anyone else can do will correct the damage he has done or make his victims whole again.

    Wegner’s prison sentence seems to have done little to improve his ethical sense. The resume Wegner submitted to Riverkeeper accounts for his period of incarceration without referring to the fact of the incarceration itself Wegner describes work he performed and omits the significant information that he performed this work while he was serving time as a prison inmate.

    Kennedy overstepped his position as attorney for Riverkeeper when, in November of 1999, he hired Wegner. Boyle terminated Wegner after learning of the hiring and upon review of Wegner’s resume, court records and media accounts. The matter came to a climax at a board meeting on June 20th when Kennedy insisted that Wegner be rehired over Boyle’s objection.

    While we hope Riverkeeper continues to work to produce changed human beings who think and act differently in regard to the Hudson River and all that pertains to it, we also recognize the primary mission of Riverkeeper is not the rehabilitation of Wegner or of those like him.

    Sincerely,

    Anthony Henry Smith
    Fishkill

    (for The Fishkill Ridge Caretakers)
    (Fishkill Ridge Community Heritage, a separate organization, has also supported this letter from their beginning.)

  198. #198 'Tis Himself
    November 14, 2008

    If you really want to prove that you have any valid points, then quit trying to bluff with the standard pseudo-intellectual put down. It’s snotty as hell, and it does nothing to support your position.

    In other words, you can’t refute the objections I gave in my post #172 about returning to the gold standard and somehow it’s my fault.

    You’re pretending that since fiat money isn’t specifically mentioned in the Constitution, then the federal government is minting money illegally.

    No, you’re pretending that they’re minting money. They’re actually issuing bills of credit, which they’re not authorized to do.

    You’re not only a economic illiterate, you’re a Constitutional illiterate. The ONLY place where bills of credit are mentioned in the Constitution is in Section 10: Powers Prohibited of States.

    If you want me to stop being snotty, then you have to stop showing your abysmal ignorance. You’ve read a book by a fringe economist. You make easily refuted misstatements about the Constitution. You support a monetary policy which, on its face, is deflationary. You haven’t proven you’re not an economic illiterate. You have proven you’re a libertarian ideologue. It’s my experience that most libertarians know squat about economics (and history).

    I’m something you’re not. I’m a professional economist with a graduate degree in the field. I’m not saying this as an appeal to authority. Rather, I’m telling you that I do know something about the field.

    Incidentally, I recommend a couple other books on monetary policy. The first you’ll hate because it’s Keynesian. However, many economists think it’s the best book on monetary policy written in the past ten years:

    Jordi Galli. Monetary Policy, Inflation, and the Business Cycle: An Introduction to the New Keynesian Framework. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-691-133164

    The other book has a lot of math (something anathema to the Austrian School) and is really a graduate school textbook:

    Carl E. Walsh. Monetary Theory and Policy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003 (2nd Ed). ISBN 978-0-262-232319

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