Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 17, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE MEANING OF "ANY"....As part of a process called New Source Review, the Clean Air Act requires power plant operators to install specific types of pollution control equipment whenever they make "any physical change" that increases the amount of air pollution a plant emits. As you can imagine, the power industry dislikes this requirement, and if they dislike it then so does the Bush administration.

So a couple of years ago, after failing to get Congress to change the law, the EPA issued a rule declaring that "any" actually means "things that cost more than 20% of the value of the plant." So if you run a $1 billion plant, you can make $200 million worth of pollution increasing modifications without running afoul of the Clean Air Act.

Today, after listening to the EPA's pretzel-bending defense of its postmodern definition of "any," the DC Court of Appeals told the Bush administration to stuff a sock in it:

In this context, there is no reason the usual tools of statutory construction should not apply and hence no reason why any should not mean any.

....EPAs position is that the word any does not affect the expansiveness of the phrase physical change....EPAs approach would ostensibly require that the definition of modification include a phrase such as regardless of size, cost, frequency, effect, or other distinguishing characteristic. Only in a Humpty Dumpty world would Congress be required to use superfluous words while an agency could ignore an expansive word that Congress did use. We decline to adopt such a world-view.

Good for them. The power industry has spent the better part of three decades fighting New Source Review, which was originally meant as a compromise that would allow them to install pollution control equipment gradually as they upgraded their plants instead of mandating the changes all at once. Little did anyone realize at the time that industry lawyers would manage to put off the day of reckoning for 25 years, culminating in the election of an administration that would then simply change the rules by fiat in order to eliminate even the minor aggravation of showing up for court dates.

The power industry is right that New Source Review hasn't worked. The answer, however, is not to give them even more leeway to evade the clear intent of the law. The answer is to eliminate NSR and simply require them to install modern pollution controls in all plants within a specified period of time. That would be plain language that even power industry lawyers couldn't pretend not to understand.

Kevin Drum 9:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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That's the kind of plain language the state of California uses with automakers.

Course, automaker's lawyers find all manner of ways of disputing those laws anyway.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on March 17, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

The answer is to eliminate NSR and simply require them to install modern pollution controls in all plants within a specified period of time.

The beauty of grandfathered arrangements like NSR, though, is that it takes a lot of the teeth out of industry's arguments that they're being unfairly penalized. The "modernize or die" approach dramatically strengthens their hand in the courts.

Posted by: dj moonbat on March 17, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

No different that what the meaning of "is" was - you people were fine with that debate IIRC.

Welcome back, Kevin.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's worth pointing out that Janice Rogers Brown was on this court, against the recommendation of e.g. The Sierra Club. Apparently she has (legal) principles!

Posted by: Allen K. on March 17, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I wonder if the very next thread Kevin posts will be about the high cost of oil, energy prices are killing Americans, or some other "sky is falling" doomsday scenario - I guess that would be too much after this:

Good for them. The power industry has spent the better part of three decades fighting New Source Review, which was originally meant as a compromise that would allow them to install pollution control equipment gradually as they upgraded their plants instead of mandating the changes all at once.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Are we seeing a gradual shift in the tide of political affairs? The "1984" world we have become used to, generated by the search for money, may finally be coming to an end? Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to judge, but: the Clean Air act has been protected. Maybe we will see Bush's new "Healthy Forest" initiative bite the dust as well. Democrats, start your engines, but please....PLEASE.....get on board a solid p[olitical foundation, and stop defending fringe politics. We need you!

Posted by: Chris on March 17, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Are you kidding, Chris? Despite pleas from reasonable moderates like Kevin, the Democratic Party will lurge further left before November, mark my words.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

No different that what the meaning of "is" was - you people were fine with that debate IIRC.
Don P.

You people? What an amazing sentence. Who the hell is You People?

Posted by: Chris on March 17, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I know the Democratic Party will lurch left, which is why i'm trying to be the lone voie in the wilderness and beg them to lurch centrist/left. unfortunately, American politics are not designed for that. Extremes beget extremes in this country. But that's how the political parties seem to want it. That's where the problem lies: Parties.

Posted by: Chris on March 17, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

I actually agree that "parties" are the problem - by "you people" I meant the Democrats here in Kevin's echo chamber like grape_crush, cmdicely, Saam Barrager, and dj moonbat.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

just checking that you aren't lumping all anti republicans into the same basket. some of us are very much Democrats, very much anti abortion, very much pro business, and very,. very much anti the current political scheme, in which the only thing that matters is winning, not how you play the game.

Posted by: Chris on March 17, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, a REAL Democrat?

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm for that as long as the requirements aren't too strict on just what is necessary to "modernize" the plants. One of the main problems with the NSR is that it specified what kinds of equipment needed to be installed. The problem though is that impedes technological innovation. A better system would say these are the standards the plant must meet. We don't care how you achieve them, just as long as they are achieved. That way companies would be more encouraged to come up with more innovative ways of reducing emmissions, instead of just being stuck with pre-ordained ones.

Posted by: Jeff on March 17, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Don: no, there is no "real" democrat. That was my point........there are many subgroups.

Posted by: Chris on March 17, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Lurch left? What do you people mean, anyway? Would it be health care for all Americans? That would be terrible, wouldn't it? How about defending America from real terrorists, not imaginary ones in a country that didn't attack us? That's a pretty left-wing concept, isn't it?

Or how about fair trade policies that don't encourage slave labor so that American workers can compete on a level playing field? Oh, that's right, fairness is a lefty concept. Maybe you're referring to the radical left concept of following the law and the Constitution as it pertains to due process. We can't have that, can we?

Then there's the stuff about protecting the environment, ending dependence in foreign oil. It's okay to talk about that stuff, but it's way too left-wing to actually do something about it.

Yea, we wouldn't want the country to lurch left, would we.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on March 17, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Chris--you left out "pro-slavery".

Don P.--you left out "circa 1863".

Posted by: Bob P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Aaron: get with it. I'm not anti health care, but m anti socialist failed policies. Bob P. I'm totally offended. pro-slavery has nothing to do with being pro business, pro personal responsibility and anti bush.

Posted by: Chris on March 17, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm totally offended too.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Who the hell is You People?"

Don't they live next door to Them?

Posted by: Dan S. on March 17, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

I thought this bit was interesting. The plaintiffs in this case were states:

Plaintiffs in the case more than a dozen states, including New York and California, and a large group of environmental organizations hailed the decision as one of the most important in years for environmental protection. The law governs more than 800 power plants around the country as well as 17,000 factories, refineries and chemical plants.

"This is an enormous victory over the concerted efforts by the Bush administration to dismantle the Clean Air Act," Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York, whose office argued the case for the states, said in an interview. "It shows that the administration's effort to misinterpret and undermine the statute is illegal."

I remember the good old days when states' rights were paramount. If only the first Bush campaign could have gone on forever....

Posted by: Windhorse on March 17, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Chris, Don P.

Aaron told the truth.

Democrats are not socialists. I will admit, however, that we stand for all kinds of concepts Republicans find strange. For example we Democrats believe that we the people are created equal, our creator (or nature or whatever you want to insert as long as it is not our president or our government) has bestowed upon us certain rights, those rights are found in and around the constitution, the president is not above the law, the government works best when there are three branches of government checking and balancing the excesses of the others, the goal of any government must be to make sure all of us have a fair chance to succeed, policies should be enacted to help us regular folk live free, longer and healthier, the government has no business in a bedroom, religious practices should not be enforced by the government, and policies that help business should be designed so as not to harm the people.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 17, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

I was just reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It all sounds so, so leftist. Do conservatives, Bush cock suckers, republicans think America is a left wing disfunctional form of government? Do they think fascism is better? Is the dollar more important to them than equal rights? How much do they really hate their fellow man? Should corporations be totally unregulated and therefore control man? And is anything less than this-leftist socialism? What kind of society do they want and is it compatible with the Constitution of the US? Or is what they really want some other form of government?

Posted by: MRB on March 17, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think Chris said he was a (reasonable) Democrat, you fag!

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Is anyone that thinks logically a leftist democrat? Does this imply that anyone that doesn't think, or doesn't consider all factors and reach a logical conclusion is, therefore by definition, a conservative republican? Is anyone that disagrees with a conservative on any issue suddenly a leftist socialist? Can someone honestly trying to sift through the elements and reach a rational conclusion be anything but a raving leftist as perceived by the right?

Posted by: MRB on March 17, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone besides me find it interesting that the decision was made by a three judge panel made up of Rogers, Tatel and Brown ans that the decision was written by Janice Rogers Brown? I never found if it was 2 to 1 or 3 to 0, but She had to be in the majority to write the decision.

Looks like she is on her good behavior and hoping that she can still get a nomination to the Supreme Court before Bush has to leave office.

Posted by: Rick B on March 17, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

I never found if it was 2 to 1 or 3 to 0, but She had to be in the majority to write the decision.

There were no dissenting opinions.

Posted by: dj moonbat on March 17, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

The opinion for the court was written by Rogers, though; not Brown.

Posted by: dj moonbat on March 17, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm starting a pool on how many days will pass until Bush declares that this ruling is a violation of his constitutional war powers.

Posted by: pjcamp on March 18, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Just as clarification, does the poll end when that argument is filed before the U.S. Supreme Court, or only when Bush actually says those words?

Posted by: Don P. on March 18, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

poll = pool

Posted by: Don P. on March 18, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Constition is an outdated document we believe corporate+state partnership all regulations that slow business should be scraped.
Most social programs should be dismantled as they promote waste and sloth. These programs have a temdency to keep people from achieving their full potential.
Case in point unemployment insurance. A person not accepting the program averages 8weeks out of work. With the program people stay unemployed for 21 weeks. Socialism promotes sloth and waste. These are not conservative ideals. Consider the Puritans and pilgrims.

Posted by: Don p. on March 18, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bush's only hope is three-fold: smear (losing it's effectiveness), increasing war level in Iraq (difficult because it would imply the war isn't going well), or terrorist alerts every other day. Of course this implies some logic, which as we know is anti-conservative.

Posted by: MRB on March 18, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

When did I say the Constitution was an outdated document?

Posted by: Don P. on March 18, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Jeez, I thought Don P. was a real entity. I feel kind of weird to suddenly realize that he or it is unreal or so 1984. And now he asks questions about things that were not even implied-a sure sign of the possible need of psychiatric care and influence. So sad. And this is supposed to influence someone else politically somehow?

Posted by: MRB on March 18, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

When did I say the Constitution was an outdated document?

Sometime after 1863?

Posted by: Doug P. on March 18, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bob P. I'm totally offended.

Sweet!

Posted by: Bob P. on March 18, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatism, as we know of it today (Bush world) is like looking at life and the world through a colored lense, or in this case a "shit" lense. Everything on the other side is tinted by "shit". As long as the lense is kept before the eyes the world appears to be all fucked up or putrid levels of shit. It must be purified but cannot be as long as the lense is on or life is considered conservatively. The only way to effectively attack the "shitization" is through power over others obtained by money. A commercial free enterprise system will function as long as advantage by high levels of money(power) and monopoly are kept available so that the truly rich can keep the "shit" under their thumb. Of course, in a voting popular system the "shit" must be convinced in a certain way which is easy if one can control the media and the propaganda machine. Then, shit, it becomes fascism.

Posted by: MRB on March 18, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Why does the DC Court of Appeals hate America and likes to make baby Jesus cry?

Posted by: ogmb on March 18, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. Ya think it's remotely possible that the Judicial Branch is growing a backbone? It sure would be nice.

On the other hand, the Moussaoui judge has just waddled into a backbone-free zone, to help the Incompetents save face.

Posted by: curious on March 18, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Happy St. Patrick's day to everyone. Bush is history. He fought the constitution and the constitution won.

Posted by: MRB on March 18, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

MRB being rich truly rich is an act of God. God gave us the Diebold Corporation to alter elections on the earthbound plane. Jesus is pro life and pro business both true conservative ideals. Liberals do not understand such things.

Posted by: Don p. on March 18, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

I can dig it, Don. Life through the "shit" lense. Those that are poor, at God's and Jesus's disdain, should lack our compassion. So sayeth the Christian Bush dick-suckers.

Posted by: MRB on March 18, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Compassion is not a conservative ideal. Compassion does not generate profits. Why should I spread the fruits of my labors to those that do not share my risks. God created man and nature, nature is the law of the jungle where only the strong survive.

Posted by: Don p. on March 18, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Last year Kevin wrote an answer to the question "what will a second Bush term be like," - and Kevin's answer was "scandal-ridden".

Truer words were never spoken.

And the well runs deep. Now it appears from a US News article not posted yet that the Bush administration decided post-9/11 that warrants aren't needed for physical searches, either.

Whether the nice guys and pussycats(*) want to face it or not, it's impeachment time. If we do not impeach this guy before his term ends, we will have sent the message to all future presidents, Republican or Democrat, that the Constitution doesn't mean shit.

Censure is the first step.
Winning back the Congress is the next step.
Then:
--Get rid of Cheney.
--Approve the replacement ONLY if he/she agrees not to run in 2008, and not to pardon any member of this administration.
--Impeach, impeach, impeach. Get em' all. Even if the Judiciary committee is tied up for two years, expose the whole friggin mess.
--Once they're impeached and out of government, try and convict as many of them as possible for war crimes, corruption, etc.

We need this. Impeachment is a healthy thing.

PS, I nominate Nancy "Try'em and fry'em" Grace as the special prosecutor.

(*)NG&P: Matthew, Josh, and Kevin.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on March 18, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans said it was a healthy thing and that Clinton needed to be impeached. I disgusted with BOTH parties!

Posted by: Don P. on March 18, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'm for that as long as the requirements aren't too strict on just what is necessary to "modernize" the plants. One of the main problems with the NSR is that it specified what kinds of equipment needed to be installed. The problem though is that impedes technological innovation.

Posted by: Jeff on March 17, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK
==============================================

Actually that isn't true. NSR requires the use of "Best Available Control Technology" which is determined to be controls that reduce emissions as well as the best technology that is currently "demonstrated in practice" to work. So as new technologies get developed and used, they become proven technology, and become the new standard for complying with the program.

Posted by: Steve T on March 18, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Soany bets on how many factories will be shut down for extended periods, or closed completely, if they can't upgrade? How about power plants? what do you tell people when there are brown outs or blackouts due to plants being down. Sorry, you;ll have to freeze or broil because we're forced to make these repairs.
If the industry has been fighting this for the past 25 years, then where was the environmentally friendly Clinton admin. and their efforts to get the law enforced? Too busy accepting donations from these same industries?

Posted by: Meatss on March 18, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

A typical power industry's view on this issue is represented here, with associated links.

Just passing on information.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

"...the Democratic Party will lurge further left before November"

Wow, somebody's really Marging to a different Homer.

Posted by: Kenji on March 18, 2006 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

Soany bets on how many factories will be shut down for extended periods, or closed completely, if they can't upgrade?

As many as will be useful to artificially jack up electricity prices and make a killing in states which do not regulate the prices which utilities can charge for supplying power. In states where prices are regulated, there will be no shutdowns; the utilities will spend what is necessary to keep plants online, including making upgrades to anti-pollution equipment.

I will be happy to bet you $100 on this issue.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 18, 2006 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

"The answer is to eliminate NSR and simply require them to install modern pollution controls in all plants within a specified period of time. That would be plain language that even power industry lawyers couldn't pretend not to understand."

An elegant solution, Kevin. The problem is, it won't happen anytime soon -- and maybe never -- because the energy industry and others subject to NSR have preponderant influence over both Congress and the Executive branch. That's why the Clean Air Act grandfathered in older, polluting plants. Industry lobbyists help write the rules, and they help draft the legislation. The public voice is represented by first-class organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, but those guys just can't match the money and firepower of the big industry boys.

Posted by: Doofus on March 18, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Updated Troll Contest Nomination List:

1) SERIOUS TROLLS

1) tbrosz
2) rdw (real)
3) Michael L. Cook
4) Steve White
5) Will Allen
6) republicrat

2) OBNOXIOUS TROLLS

1) conspiracy nut
2) McAristotle
3) Jay
4) Tymbrimi
5) Don P.
6) theAmericanist
7) Fat White Guy
8) The Als (I can't tell real from fake)
9) Mike K
10) Birkel
11) Norman

3) FREEPER DRONES

1) GOPGregory
2) BigRiver
4) MountainDan
5) Freedom Fighter
6) Paddy Whack
7) peanut
8) clock
9) brian (capital-B Brian is not a troll)

4) MISCELLANEOUS PSYCHOTICS

1) Patton
2) The Objective Historian
3) Cheney
4) meatss

5) TROLL PARODIES

1) tbrosz (helicalrocket)
2) tbrosz (circularstrawman)
3) tbrosz (rotaryrectum)
4) tbrosz (swivellingsphincter)
5) Freedom Phukher
6) NSA Mole
7) The Happy Conservative
8) Al (impossible to tell, so he's a nominee in both categories)
9) 'rdw'

Revisions and/or additions welcome!

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I suggest putting "air rights" into the constitution. If I own a million cubic feet of air who is the government to tell me I can't remove all the oxygen from it and replace it with carbon monoxide and/or mix in a few tons of carbon black. If the government wants to keep me from making the best possible economic use of my air they can reimburse my ass for the difference.

We'll start in Oregon where the libertarians are making giant advances in terms property rights. They're the trend setters baby and anti-tax libertarians are going to outbreed anti-growth hippies from here on out.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

A pox on damned Mary Landrieu.

There she goes again, Ms. Mary 'Tax Cut 6' Landrieu, my alleged Democratic Senator - voting to lay waste to ANWR.

Posted by: CFShep on March 18, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Cyn:

Wasn't she the *only* Democrat to cross lines last week and vote for the budget?

She's pretty disgusticational, i'n'she?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Why the fixation on command and control solutions?

Why not just make them buy pollution permits for old and new plants.

Let them figure out the best way to cut pollution at minimum cost.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on March 18, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

My vote for parody goes to circularstrawman :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin - When was the acompanying photo taken? Was it during the 60s, before clean air legislation? Was it taken during the Clinton administration? During Bush's?

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 18, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan says our troops kill Iraqi children.

John Kerry says our troops break into Iraqi homes and terrorize Iraqi women and children.

When the going gets tough, you can always count on Democrats to trash our military!

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 18, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I was reading through Bob's excellent taxonomy of trolls thinking to myself, "he forgot Cheney, how could be forget Cheney?"

And then I saw the category of "MISCELLANEOUS PSYCHOTICS" and I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

Nicely done.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 18, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

With state winning the lastes around against Bush trying to lessen EPA control and Gail Norton's good-bye as she resigned - well it's not to bad and maybe it'll get better.

Dan Froomkin reports this fact:
Here are the poll results.

The poll shows only somewhat less support for impeachment, with 42 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed.

Just waiting for MR. Patrick Fitztmas to nail Cheney and it's all over for the Bush administration.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 18, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and the word is that Libby's scapegoating is causeing infighting in the Bush administration these days - so keep up the good work Partick Fitzgearld.

Shades of John Dean and Nixion's fall.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 18, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

No one can own the air. And no one can live without it. All you nutjobs need to put a plastic bag over your heads and relieve the world of your presence.

Posted by: NeoLotus on March 18, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Bob-
"Patton" should be "PATTON".
And I assume that includes "ALICE".

Posted by: telstar on March 18, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

bravo rmck1 that list is a genuine keeper.i think we should start grading them for intelligence.but then that would be if they showed any

Posted by: frodo on March 18, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think sometimes we are too hard on some people identified as "trolls." Some of the folks Bob lists often have good initial comments. What is annoying is the way they don't move things along, and rarely acknowledge the possiblity that the other side has any merit. That might be their goal, it certainly is the goal of some of the others. They want the rest of us to lose focus. All too often they are successful.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 18, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

bravo rmck1 that list is a genuine keeper.

Posted by: frodo on March 18, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

oh by the way it seems censorship has reached a new level on this blog.i posted a comment questioning the level of intelligence of the members of rmck1's list and was not allowed to post it.no profanity or negativity just commentary.Shame on you.

Posted by: frodo on March 18, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! Like President Bush, I'm the real deal! Go Santorum/Keyes '08!

Posted by: HappyConservative on March 18, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Not for the first time, I have to ask what counts as a troll around here. Is it just someone out of sync with the majority of the readership? (Well, evidently not, because I'm thankfully not yet on your list.) Or is it someone who deliberately sabotages discussion with irrelevant and/or abusive commentary? Because if the latter, I would not say that all the trolls here are on the right.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 18, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I know that everyone else has already come to this conclusion, but I don't think that either Don P (or Don p) is the same person as the one who posted under that name a couple of years ago. The original Don P was cantankerous, but I don't think he would have called someone a "fag". I also don't he would write something as ungrammatical as

I disgusted with BOTH parties!

That's almost Tarzan-speak, except it should be

Me Don P. Me disgusted with BOTH parties! Where Jane?

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 18, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

When was the acompanying photo taken?

More importantly, what was it taken of? Is that smoke, steam, or a combination of both? Is it actually a power plant? A steel mill?

From just what I see in the photo, I think this one is mostly real polluting smoke. Signs to look for to identify clouds of mostly-harmless steam are:

--Steam emissions are often transparent near the stack

--They fade quickly as they disperse

--White in color

Steam will rarely leave a long-term hanging cloud, except under certain rare cold-weather conditions.

A typical mostly-steam emission is seen here. I wish I had a dollar for every time such a photo is used as an example of "massive pollution."

It should be noted that this does not mean there are no combustion gases at all in this cloud. And CO2, of course, is invisible. But the visual needs explanation sometimes.

Of course, nuclear plants emit only water vapor from their cooling towers into the atmosphere, but that's another thread.

***

Bob:

Isn't "serious troll" kind of a contradiction in terms? Unless, as I have said, "troll" around here is defined as "anyone who disagrees with us."

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

frodo:

The server seem be having some problems, which is probably your real issue.

Other than being prevented from entering two posts in a row too rapidly, I have never had a post pulled or prevented here. This is not the case on some other blogs. A comment from the right on a place like Democraticunderground.com has a lifespan of minutes.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Unless, as I have said, "troll" around here is defined as "anyone who disagrees with us."

Disagreement is one thing, tbrosz. Pushing the kind of straw man arguments, long-debunked talking points, red herrings and general intellectual dishonesty, like you do so, so often -- like kvetching that photos of steam are represented as pollution, then admitting that the steam may contain gasses, including CO2, that makes it -- yes! -- pollution -- makes one a troll.

Your problem, tbrosz, as I've said often, is that you've shown you *can* debate honestly, just that so often you *choose not to.* I know it's nigh-impossible to defend the mendacity, incompetence, and corruption of the Bush Administration honestly, but you choose to carry their water anyway, and so that doesn't excuse your dishonesty one bit. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I have never had a post pulled or prevented here.

Which I applaud -- it means tbrosz' loathsome claim that Bush's critics here are "rooting for America's failure in Iraq" -- and his own subsequent failure to provide a single example, huffing instead that it was "obvious" -- as well as his other frequent straw man arguments, remain for all to see, chuckle at, and pity.

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't she the *only* Democrat to cross lines last week and vote for the budget?

She's pretty disgusticational, i'n'she?

Bob
Posted by: rmck1

Yeah, Bob. The GOP held money for LA rebuilding hostage for votes. No vote on ANWR = no $$$ for LA from the damned expanded outer shelf drilling leases (I hate that, too, you may be assured).

Vitter's an oil whore so nobody had to twist his arm. It's self-twisting. Bunch of unscrupulous gangsters. Big oil comes to Vitter(R) he whimpers and rolls over to have his belly scratched.

I'm furious.

Posted by: CFShep on March 18, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Unless, as I have said, "troll" around here is defined as "anyone who disagrees with us."

Maybe the definition should be something like:

A concerted and unwanted effort to express passive aggression through disagreement, utilizing tactics like misdirection, false equivalencies, broad ad hominens, and other intellectually dishonest methods,

Of course, that's tailored specifically to you. A broader definition would be needed for other trolls.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 18, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Give tbrosz a break. He uses reasonable arguments when they're available to back his position. He only resorts to misdirection, false equivalencies, broad ad hominens, and other intellectually dishonest methods when he has nothing to fall back on.

Do you think it would be possible to buy the air over Cleveland and make it taste like bubblegum? What if we employed people and called it an "artificial flavor factory"? That would be cool.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

What did SCOTUS say in the 1970s?

"...I know trolls when I sees 'em."

or something like that. Yes?

Posted by: Keith G on March 18, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse:

...tactics like misdirection, false equivalencies, broad ad hominens, and other intellectually dishonest methods...

Tell ya what. Why don't you find a good, long, comment thread, and tally up how much of this kind of thing your side dishes out. You might include gratuitous obscenities, too.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Well, not to get back to the point or anything, but the last twenty years have shown you can't really "cooperate" with industry. It's like trying to "cooperate" with your dog, or, heaven forbid, a gang of cats.

Mistakes may be made when you lay down the law with a heavy hand, but even worse mistakes are made when you don't.

Right now this is a totally academic point, in a sense- either people will wake up and realize they need to put a chokechain on industry, or the planet will be fried. In the first case, action will need to be so decisive and overwhelming that no tedious discussion will be possible, in the second case, who cares?

NSR and other partial measures were intended to work over long periods of time, allowing industry to maintain profits and change at the speed their feeble brains could comprehend.

Turns out, that's not what industry wanted.

Now, the time is gone. And, as Napolean said,
"You may ask of me anything, gentlemen, except time."

Posted by: serial catowner on March 18, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I tried to give my own reasoning on the Troll Question in my original post, but I'll take another whack at it while I wait for my friend to get over with the beer.

waterfowl:

You could never be a troll, darlin'. Trolls don't have pleasant email exchanges, and we had a couple good ones on modern music and other stuff. You're a contrarian sometimes to be sure, a bit less feminist than one would expect for someone so obviously well-educated -- but nobody could accuse you of trying to derail a discussion.

tbrosz:

Calling you a "serious troll" was actualy (sort of) meant as a left-handed compliment. A serious troll is somebody exactly like you -- a real person with a life who appears (at least to himself [trolls are only very rarely female]) only to be trying to have a discussion from a POV different than this blog's consensus. But unlike, say, waterfowl -- time and again discussions with this sort of troll devolve into misdirection, straw man arguments, "look -- a puppy!"isms and general snark against the left wing. You're the least obnoxious of this variety; rdw is the undisputed master -- only angstroms away from Obnoxious Trolldom.

The archetypical Obnoxious Troll is conspiracy nut. The guy's a hoot, and actually one of my favorite posters for entertainment value, because he doesn't take himself too seriously (unlike, say, Jay :). An obnoxious troll is less in it for the talking points than he is in yanking our chains for the sake of watching us react. Obnoxious trolls are all about snark -- what can I say now which will annoy the most people? Karl Rove wouldn't get a good return on this investment. Contrast with:

Freeper Drones. These folks just don't have the horsepower to transcend the talking points. They're thoroughly predictable and *never* -- unlike c-nut and even Jay -- acknowledge that you might have a point. They're all about Rovian ideology and pretend to be disinterested in snark.

To the person who said that it's PATTON, not Patton: Good point. I will correct for the next re-post.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Daryl McCullough:

Trolls are defined empirically. I don't spend much time wondering who each poster "really" could be, whether Cheney is really Don P., whether Al is a different Al than the original, etc. I haven't been around here that long for one, and secondly it seems kind of treading on their privacy. A poster is what a poster does.

Finally, to address Ron Byers, tbrosz and waterfowl about "fairness" or equal time for conservative POVs.

This is a lefty blog. There isn't any, nor should any be expected. Of course there are obnoxious posters on the left, but I don't count them as trolls because they're inside the consensus opinion.

I mean shit -- would you expect Fox to be "fair" to liberals? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Finally, to address Ron Byers, tbrosz and waterfowl about "fairness" or equal time for conservative POVs.

This is a lefty blog. There isn't any, nor should any be expected. Of course there are obnoxious posters on the left, but I don't count them as trolls because they're inside the consensus opinion.

Bob, I didn't ask for "fairness," "equal time," or anything of the kind. I just wanted a definition of trolling, and your particular definition of trolling starts with "this person is not a Democrat" and goes on from there. I think there are far-left trollers here, by any reasonable definition. If you don't think they count, it's because you assume any Lefty poster on a Lefty site can't be a troll, by definition.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 18, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

The power industry/Federal gov't's definition of 'any' reminds me of Stanley Fish's essay "Posner on Law and Literature", where Fish seems to be arguing against Posner-despite some unconvincing (to me)disavowals- that the words of a statute can be interpreted any damn way the court feels like it.

Whoda thunk it?-these guys really are Derridean deconstructionists.

Posted by: MikeN on March 18, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I probably honor freedom of speech a little more that some.

According to your last post you define a troll as being someone who doesn't express the consensus lefty point of view. All weekend all over the net there have been debates about the failure of our centrist leaders to back Russ Feingold. How do you view DLC Democrats? If they were to post here would they be deemed trolls because they don't express the point of view of the left? If that is the case our host is pretty close to a troll on his own blog. Ultimately you will find yourself defining a troll as being somebody other than you. After all you will want to claim the job of arbiter of the lefty consensus. When that happens you don't need to post, you need to lock yourself in a closet and talk to yourself.

For me trolling has more to do with intellectual dishonesty and refusing to examine the other guys arguments than their liberal v. conservative point of view. I don't come here for the echo chamber. I come here to be challenged and to learn something.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 18, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Tell ya what. Why don't you find a good, long, comment thread, and tally up how much of this kind of thing your side dishes out. You might include gratuitous obscenities, too.

Tell ya what, tbrosz. Why don't you tally up the straw man arguments from our side, since we have more from you than we can count?

Fake tbrosz has you pegged. I know you can't defend Bush's mendacity, incompetence, and corruption honestly, but that sure doesn't stop you. You want to claim it goes on on both sides? Fine. I call. Examples -- and examples of straw men and intellectual dishonesty on par with what you dish out routinely. As for obscenities, frankly, your bullshit deserves nothing else, most of the time.

I call bullshit on you, tbrosz, you lying, mendacious, intellectually dishonest hack. Put up or shut up. Or are you just going to say it's "obvious" again?

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh, what a fun nite. My good bud the philosophy PhD candiate came over, we sucked down some good suds (Sam Adams lager and Guinness) and watched Mulhulland Drive and Ingmar Bergman's Seven Seals. Now I'm drinkin' coffee and decompressing before beddy, so I thought I'd address waterfowl and Ron Byers on points remaining in the endlessly fascinating Troll Question.

In the most general sense, I agree with both of you. Trolling is defined more by dissonance against the baseline ideology of a particular venue and only secondarily by posting style. But posting style is also important.

Let me say that my own particular ideology should have little to do with it. I'm trying to observe this as a sociologist or anthropologist would, and simply note the most common kinds of reactions to the most common kinds of antagonistic posts. I'm with you, Ron -- I enjoy debate and am glad when people here express divergent opinions.

Kevin's views sometimes put him dangerously close to being a troll on his own blog, save for the way he expresses them. Kevin is rarely antagonistic (some people view this as precisely his problem) and bends over backwards to credit an opposing view. Debra Dickerson and Amy Sullivan have both treaded much closer to trolldom simply by virtue of their self-certain contrarian assertiveness.

Make no mistake -- DLC-type opinions tend to be expressed trollishly (e.g. theAmericanist), because very few can argue a centrist line without defining it against the hairy-scary left. If one can advocate a sensible middle ground on its merits alone, it would be far more well-received. More often it's just a trollish attack strategy.

Finally, waterfowl, there *are* obnoxious posters here on the knee-jerk left, who are every bit as repetitive and talking-point regurgitational as the trolls. The difference is that they simply don't get socially ostracized for it (more than one critical post by more than one person) because their views fall within the basline ideology of PA. My personal reaction often is to merely wince and move on to the next message. Call this a form of lefty solidarity if you will -- and chide away for inconsistency if not outright hypocrisy.

But make sure when you do, that you keep the natire of this particular blog in mind, and ask yourself how other blogs treat divergent opinions. There are a number of lefty havens that are much less tolerant of opposing views than Kevin's clubhouse of "center-left" political animals here.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 19, 2006 at 3:52 AM | PERMALINK

natire = nature

Posted by: rmck1 on March 19, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

[M]ake sure when you do [chide Lefty posters for being rude or offensive], that you keep the nature of this particular blog in mind, and ask yourself how other blogs treat divergent opinions. There are a number of lefty havens that are much less tolerant of opposing views than Kevin's clubhouse of "center-left" political animals here.

Quite so, which is why I'm reading and posting to PA and not other Lefty blogs. The political blogs I like generally have more balanced readerships, and stay ordinarily civil Althouse, Volokh, Asymmetrical Information, Discriminations, Joanne Jacobs. On each of these (which could be broadly described as conservative/libertarian) there are regular commenters from the Left, but very few outright trolls. Of course, all of them have much less traffic than PA, and some are moderated, so I am not inclined to read anything much into that. I have yet to find a large-traffic, overtly partisan blog that allowed comments at all that wasn't infested with obnoxious, pointlessly obstructive posters, whatever you choose to call them.

This is why I gave up eventually on LGF, the only conservative blog of large size I ever read regularly. And at LGF I wouldn't hesitate to call some of the obnoxious posters in line with the blog's general tone "trolls." Why shouldn't I here?

And tbrosz, for one, simply shouldn't be described as a troll at all. He is civil, makes reasoned arguments, and doesn't descend to name-calling, which is all too frequent even here. I can't remember any exchange between tbrosz and anyone that got as nasty as the occasional cmdicely/Don P. cage match.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 19, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

Even though our political views are somewhat divergent (but not by a great degree), I find myself, as usual, in broad sympathy with your points. I'm a blog monogamist (at least serially); I tend to find one place and stick to it. Kevin's filling the bill for me because his interests are quite diverse and there's enough of a mix of opinion that it doesn't get terribly stale. Like yourself, I'm glad we have tbrosz and other "serious trolls" (he's right; that's kind of a contradiction, but it also expresses something of your own sentiments about it) who present reasonably articulated rebuttals of our leftie conventional wisdom. More of an echo chamber would disinterest me.

For instance, I'd never post on dKos and only read it occasionally. I find it insufferable; first Kos's crypto-Machiavellian tactical obsession, but also I think ratings systems are the sine qua non of groupthink enforcement. I admire Kevin for running this place entirely sans moderation, including an automated blog nanny to filter out curses. Consequently, as acidic and downright obscene as some of these exchanges get, we never have "appropriateness wars." You want to see posters in OrwellVille, go check out the moderated NYT forums.

I cut my blog teeth on Howard Dean's blogforamerica during the primaries. The ideological ecology shares a similarity here, as Dean supporters were a mix of progressives and center lefties (the hard left was elsewhere) who were infuriated at the war, the DLC (not so much for their ideology but for refusing to stand up for principle) and Bush regime corruption. And we also had a serious troll problem (replete with DoS attacks) because at the height of Dean's candidacy many people sorely wished to take him down. We went from open posting to hidden-email registration, and not a moment too soon.

Although I've been known to climb on my high horse here and take lefties to task for browbeating their opponents (just ask PaulB and Pale Rider :), I'd still call that kind of posting different than trolling. Sure, there's a certain style of leftie rebuttal (they know who they are) that I find kind of intellectually vacuous. Especially breaking down posts sentence-by-sentence and shouting "straw man" every response. Shit, you may as well disallow all reasoning by analogy. And some lefties have an almost Tourette's Syndrome propensity to bark back a canned series of "bootlicking mental slave"-type chides, which is really comical considering that they're attacking the poster for following Rove's script.

However, I've stopped that practice after my first two weeks here. If I continued regularly, there'd be a reason to wonder if *I* wasn't a troll :) So I just, you know, wince and scroll on when I see it. Again, objective "wrong" or "right" is meaningless in a socially defined environment. I've chosen this place because I like the volume, the lack of speech restrictions and the general (somewhat center) leftie ideological orientation.

To post otherwise would be to show disrepect for my hosts -- which includes not simply Kevin, but the general blog consensus of opinion and decorum.

And lack of respect is, of course, the sine qa non of trollish behavior.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 19, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

As I said, I like it here too, certainly better than any other high-traffic liberal site, though both the volume and the shrillness on both sides are getting wearisome. I really think it's something to do with the plain traffic level, because nothing gets this nasty on the smaller-traffic blogs I frequent, even when there are heated disputes. Discriminations, for example, is an anti-racial-preferences blog with two very outspoken pro-racial-preferences commenters, and yet we manage not to scream at one another, and treat one another in general with considerable mutual respect. Asymmetrical Information is the same not as to content, but as to readership and civility. There are a range of opinions there, but obnoxious posters no. And I am sorry to have left out Dean Esmay above, whose blog has the most politically balanced readership I have seen in the blogosphere. These are the sorts of comments threads I want to read. They seem incompatible with large scale, alas.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 19, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

Bear in mind that with the smaller sites, there may be some passive moderation (post pruning) going on that you might not be aware of. Kevin seems to remove nothing; hell, not even 40-page Chinese character spambot posts. A smaller blog might facilitate bloggers reviewing their comments sections and removing hostile and/or trollish exchanges. Dunno; haven't seen any of the blogs to which you refer.

Strikes me that this sort of thing is inevitable with volume. Many blogs it's impossible to comment on and get responses in something close to real time. When you're sitting there posting to get immediate reactions (like chatting almost), this doubtless shorts out the part of the brain that may hesitate before sending up something too hot.

Personally, I don't mind it provided it doesn't destroy the conversation I'm having; one can always scroll. What bugs me most about this particular kind of format is that multi-post exchanges eventually drop into archive and obscurity, or their comments are shut off before the exchange finishes.

A small price to pay, though, for topicality and a relatively large readership.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 19, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

So the Washington Post covered this story with an encouragingly-critical headline. But when you get into the story, they actually hide the plain-english law that Congress wrote, and the judge upheld.

Instead, the Post quoted a lengthy passage from the decision that made those whole thing seem like a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo.

Thus, even the avid WaPo reader is left with the impression that this was a legal fight over whether 20% is a good number to use or some other number. Instead, they miss what its' really about:

Congress wrote "any change" - the Admin says "any" means 20% - the court says any means any.

Yeesh

Posted by: curious on March 19, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Althouse uses Blogger, which allows people to remove their own posts if they think better of them. Volokh apparently is moderated in some ways a rabid anti-Semite was kicked off a thread the other day. Discriminations is moderated as well, though my understanding is that if you have a TypeKey registration you can post immediately. I do not think Asymmetrical Information is moderated at all. Dean Esmay also has TypeKey, and so does Joanne Jacobs.

You ought to check some or all of these out, Bob, because they have two things in common: They aren't full of jerks, and they are full of thoughtful people from many different political perspectives. The main posts are going to be mostly to your right, but the comments may not be. I love these sites because civil dialogue between people of differing views is damned rare, and these are the places I have found it.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 19, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

Recall that I run absurdly Luddite gear, so if the TypePad registration requires typing in characters displayed in graphics (to foil bots), I can't use it, as I have a pure-ascii text interface.

That keeps me off Glen Greenwald's site.

I have no idea if that's the way TypePad works.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 19, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

TypePad = TypeKey

Posted by: rmck1 on March 19, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

And tbrosz, for one, simply shouldn't be described as a troll at all. He is civil, makes reasoned arguments, and doesn't descend to name-calling

I beg to differ. tbrosz certainly milks his tweedy intellectual pose for all it's worth, and I cheerfully admit that at times he shows that he can debate honestly. The trouble with tbrosz is that so often he chooses not to. tbrosz posts a steady stream of straw man arguments, irrelevant observations, red herrings, cranky faux-contentiousness and assorted other examples of dishonesty. He often substitutes a pose of cynicism for a valid rebuttal. He's also famous for failing to address criticism of his points and continuing on as if his contentions were undisputed. Frankly, anyone who engages in intellectual dishonesty to the extent tbrosz does is, in fact, insulting.

As for name calling, tbrosz routinely posts distorted and dishonest characterizations of Democratic positions. And if accusing the Bush critics here of "rooting for failure in Iraq" . He may not use blue language, but tbrosz is as insulting as any troll you might care to name.

If tbrosz wants to debate honestly, fine and dandy, although of course he'd have precious little way of defending the mendacity, incompetence and corruption of the Bush Administration. But just because he occasionally engages in reasonable debate is no reason at all he should be given a pass on his usual reprehensible tactics.

Posted by: Gregory on March 20, 2006 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Updated Troll Contest Nomination List:

[SNIP]

Bob
Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 10:27 AM

That was brilliant Bob. I don't really have any corrects or updates. I think you got them all.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 20, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

tbroz said:
"More importantly, what was it taken of? Is that smoke, steam, or a combination of both? Is it actually a power plant? A steel mill?

From just what I see in the photo, I think this one is mostly real polluting smoke."

Having worked in a steel plant during the 70s, this photo appears to be a BOF steel plant emission. Note the reddish cast. It's iron oxide, carbon dust, steam and god knows what (it would depend on exactly what kind of steel was being produced at that moment).

I'm glad these plants are no longer in operation. All buildings, all objects, within, say, 5 miles of the stack would turn reddish brown over time.

Posted by: slanted tom on March 20, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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