Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, November 5th, 2007.


Irony Is Dead, Embalmed and Buried

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Bush Administration

Amanda at Think Progress:

White House Tells Musharraf: Never ‘Restrict Constitutional Freedoms’ To Fight Terror

During today’s White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino condemned Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of “emergency rule” in Pakistan. She said that the administration is “deeply disappointed” by the measure, which suspends the country’s constitution, and believes it is never “reasonable” to “restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism”:

Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?

MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no.

And she can say this with a straight face.

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Neither

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Republican Party

I just received the November issue of Reason magazine. I don’t know why, since I don’t subscribe to it. But the cover is stunning, and not in a good way. It’s a photograph of Rudy Giuliani with the blurb, “The Liberal Candidate: Is Rudy Giuliani a new Barry Goldwater or a new Bobby Kennedy?”

Um, Reason magazine? Are you people nuts?

The article, which is not yet online, is written by David Weigel. I’ve only skimmed the article, but Weigel seems to take the Giuliani-Bobby Kennedy comparison seriously. Among other things, Giuliani “considers the crusading Kennedy the model for how to use power.”

Please.

Michael Tomasky has a more accurate view.

[Giuliani] will say and do anything he feels he needs to say and do to get power.

Newspapers write that he was “liberal” on social issues in his mayoral days, as if his positions on abortion and immigration were matters of conviction. Nonsense. He took the positions he needed to take to be elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic city. (Although to grant him a speck of humanity, I’d guess that his pro-gay rights views were more or less genuine: anyone living in the city gets to know many gay people.)

And now he is saying and doing whatever he needs to say and do to get millions of rightwing Americans to support him. He recently told a meeting of social conservatives that his reliance on God “is at the core of who I am”. As mayor he was known to attend mass almost never, he obviously cheated serially on the wife (wife No 2) he married in the Catholic church, and the only occasions on which I can remember him invoking God when he was mayor were the two times he was forced to say “so help me God” in taking the oath of office.

But forward he will charge, telling more lies with even more impunity. And immunity, because in a culture where a sense of history is largely limited to remembering certain stirring television images, he will for the most part get away with it, confident in the knowledge that the main thing most Americans will ever recall about him is the film clip of him running from the rubble of the World Trade Centre on September 11. A far smaller percentage will know that the reason he had run was because he had catastrophically decided to place his emergency command centre in the tower complex – the only building in New York that had previously been the target of a major terrorist attack.

Tomasky’s title: “This is one dangerous man: it’s George Bush with brains.”

Weigel admits that Giuliani is not a libertarian, but he seems to want to believe that Rudy would be sorta kinda libertarian in some ways — a “liberal” who will cut taxes and be tough on national security.

A few months ago there was a lot of nonsense scattered about the web about Giuliani’s “libertarianism,” but I had thought the libertarians had started to catch on to the Truth About Rudy. At least Lew Rockwell isn’t fooled

After Giuliani spoke, the red-state fascists in the audience all started whooping up the bloodlust that the politicians have been encouraging for the last six years – a mindless display of Nazi-like nationalism that would cause the founding fathers to shudder with fear of what we’ve become. These people are frantic about terrorism and extremism abroad, but they need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

Ye shall know the tree by its fruit.

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Cabbages in Greenland

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environment, science, weather

Greenland Thaws is a series of 13 photos by John McConnico on the NYT website, that will give you pause. I photoshopped a few of them, including captions:

Greeland Farmers

Greenlandic farmers are experimenting with vegetables that have never been grown commercially in the country. Kenneth Hoeg, the region’s chief agriculture adviser, says he does not see why southern Greenland cannot eventually be full of vegetable farms and viable forests.

Greeland Sheep Are Fatter

Ewes are having fatter lambs, and more of them every season. The growing season, such as it is, now lasts roughly from mid-May through mid-September, about three weeks longer than a decade ago.

Greenland Decorative Cabbage

People come from all over to gape at the plants, like these decorative cabbage, growing at [agricultural research station] Upernaviarsuk.

Local Produce

A Greenlandic supermarket is stocking locally grown cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage this year for the first time.

Back in the early 1960s, when global warming was only a theory, scientists predicted that the effects would be most dramatic in the polar regions. This is borne out by the dramatic lengthening of the growing season in Greenland, versus lower latitudes.

This posting is kind of a Rorshach test. Those from a limited perspective may see this single data point as evidence of human ingenuity and adaptability in the face of change, a triumph of free market economics, and conclude that global warming is not as serious as some make it to be. Those from a larger, planetary perspective, will likely be alarmed, for they understand that the earth’s climate is a large and complex system, with many feedback loops and interdependencies, and that a change at one point can trigger dramatic, and less benign changes elsewhere. The world’s leading scientists have articulated many of them.

I’m not a climate scientist, but I am a student of chaos mathematics and physics. I wish I could tell you where I first heard this, but a useful analogy is to envision the earth’s climate as a beach ball at rest between a particular set of sand dunes. It has mostly been in this stable state – resting between a particular set of dunes – since the last ice age. A few breezes may have rocked the ball from time to time, creating mini ice ages for example, but the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic currents have remained in the same configuration since the end of the last ice age.

Global warming represents a large enough energy input that could cause this ball to move, potentially kicking it into the air, where it would ultimately come down and find a new equilibrium, a new resting spot, possibly between a new set of sand dunes. As the beach ball moves to a new resting point, the ocean and atmospheric currents are reconfigured, dramatically altering worldwide weather and habitat.

The ice ages, and the intervening, opposite periods of relative warmth – are similar reconfigurations from the past, times when the beach ball was kicked into a new region on the beach. Transition periods – when the climate is seeking a new equilibrium – when the old pattern is dissolving and the new has yet to emerge – analgous to times when the beach ball is in motion – is the disaster scenario that disrupts everything, not just the lives of farmers in Greenland.

No one knows whether the climate has reached this particular tipping point – whether the ball is airborn and seeking a new equilibrium, invoking this disaster scenario – but it’s significant that the system has feedback loops, amplifying the inputs which push it toward this point of no return.

Al Gore is more optimistic than I, regarding our ability to deal with global warming. It would be one thing if we had a functioning, forward thinking government that could lead the world’s richest, most able nation – as well as the rest of the planet – into something approaching ecotopia, but we’re presently cursed with the most backward, unconscious leaders this country has ever seen, and lots of inertia and brokenness after they leave. This doesn’t even consider Lord Cheney’s demonic lust for a massively bigger conflagration in the Middle East by attacking Iran.

Despite the Democrats’ likely sweep in 2008, and despite the relative sanity of the leading Democratic candidates, my fear about 2008 is that it may be too little, too late – all the moreso if a triangulator like Hillary wins. I hope I’m wrong. I’d be more optimistic if the leading candidates were serious about getting out of Iraq, which is a proxy for admitting and coming to terms with America’s oil addiction, a root cause of global warming. I’d be even more optimistic if the leading candidates were serious about atoning for our country’s shameful acts overseas – necessary to move past war, and to get to cooperation, and to begin to make real progress on living in harmony on the earth. It can be done, if we want it. If the leaders are unwilling, we individual citizens will have to find ways to do this from the grass roots.

If we don’t change course in time, I foresee a period of resource wars – Iraq is the opening battle – which will ultimately be trumphed by the accelerating effects of climate change. It will spread well beyond farmers blessed with cabbages in Greenland. Erratic weather, disease and starvation – the horsemen of the apocalypse – will trumph and finally put an end to war, as people will be too busy simply trying to survive. The Hopi call it the time of Purification, which will either be achieved peacefully, or by force, until we humans get the message. And evolve.

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