Trump And Russia

Why it’s not Watergate redux.

The overreaction to this, from people like Larry Tribe, has been hyperbolic. I’ve been having some arguments on Twitter with people, including Bob Zubrin (who is the Never Trumper’s Never Trumper), on the roles and responsibilities of the branches of government and of the federal workforce. Bob thinks that someone should disobey (or even countermand) a presidential order that they consider illegal, and somehow still keep their job. My position is that while no one is required to break the law or violate the Constitution, they are not the law unto themselves. Employees of the executive branch report ultimately to the president, and are accountable to him or her. The president is accountable either to the states in an election, or to the Congress, who can impeach and remove him. There is nothing in the Constitution about insubordination to the White House being a check on executive power, and to allow it would be to remove the unelected employees of the executive branch from any accountability to any one at all, giving us a tyranny of the bureaucracy. I don’t think that Bob has fully thought this through. I’m sure that Madison et al would never have intended this.

[Afternoon update]

I agree with Ben Sasse:

Sasse also emphasized the importance of three separate, co-equal branches of government, including ensuring the Justice Department is “very, very insulated from partisan politics.”

“We have three branches of government, not one, not 17, right? And so you need to have investigative and prosecutorial functions be in the Article II branch of government. They need to be in the executive branch, but there should be lots of insulation from the career civil servants and the leadership of the Justice Department from political decision-making at the White House,” he said.

It would help if we had an educational system that actually taught about the Constitution. And a president who had read it.

Climate Exaggerators

Cliff Mass on the academic wages of debunking them:

Every time I correct misinformation in the media like this, I get savaged by some “environmentalists” and media. I am accused of being a denier, a skeptic, an instrument of the oil companies, and stuff I could not repeat in this family friendly blog. Sometimes it is really hurtful. Charles Mudede of the Stranger is one of worst of the crowd, calling me “dangerous” and out of my mind (see example below).

A postdoc at the UW testified at the Environment Committee of the Washington State House saying that I was a contrarian voice. I spoke to her in person a few days later and asked where my science was wrong–she could not name one thing. But she told me that my truth telling was “aiding” the deniers. We agreed to disagree.

My efforts do not go unnoticed at the UW, with my department chairman and leadership in the UW Climate Impacts Group telling me of “concerns” with my complaints about hyped stories on oyster deaths and snowpack. One UW professor told me that although what I was saying was true, I needed to keep quiet because I was helping “the skeptics.” Probably not good for my UW career.

I believe scientists must provide society with the straight truth, without hype or exaggeration, and that we must correct false or misleading information in the media. It is not our role to provide inaccurate information so that society will “do the right thing.” History is full of tragic examples of deceiving the public to promote the “right thing”–such as weapons of mass destruction claims and the Iraq War.

Global warming forced by increasing greenhouse gases is an extraordinarily serious challenge to our species that will require both mitigation (reducing emissions) and adaptation (preparing ourselves to deal with the inevitable changes). Society can only make the proper decisions if they have scientists’ best projections of what will happen in the future, including the uncertainties.

What a concept.


It this is true, it’s outrageously hypocritical. A dangerous pointless stunt.

[Update a few minutes later]

More thoughts from Doug Messier.

[Update a while later]

Bob Zimmerman is less than impressed.

[Tuesday-morning update]


Friday-morning update]

[Bumped again]

[Update just before noon Pacific]

Listen to the press conference live here.

[Update after presser has started]

Emilee Speck is quick to the draw.

[Update a few minutes later]

Chris BerginGebhart has a more detailed story (much of which was probably pre-written).

[Update a while later]

Here‘s Jeff Foust’s take.

[Update mid afternoon]

Eric Berger: Blame the Senate for the schedule delays.

China And Asteroids

This sounds sort of hinky to me (as is usually the case with Chinese space announcements). They’re going to bring an asteroid into cislunar space within a decade, but don’t think they’ll have the technology to process it until four decades from now? And how does getting artificial gravity from a spinning asteroid work, exactly? Also, pretty sure there will be some intense discussions about what kind of liability China will assume under the Liability Convention if they attempt this.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!