Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, April 21st, 2009.


On the Other Website

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Obama Administration

FYI, there’s some dirt being dug up on President Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development. It involves an alleged Zen priest/management consultant, so I put it on the other blog.

Some of you might enjoy an article on Buddhist economics I published last week. I may write more about this in the future when I’ve had more time to look into it.

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The Air, the Air Is Everywhere

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conservatism, environment, Obama Administration

rightwingoverse I’m hoping Salon and Tom Tomorrow don’t mind my borrowing a panel of today’s strip, but I haven’t seen anything that better sums up the current state of the Right than the panel at left. What’s hysterical about it is that it’s not exaggerated.

The Right cannot merely disagree with Democrats and with the Obama Administration. No; every point of disagreement (which is everything the Obama Administration is doing, because it’s them doing it), no matter how minor, is framed not as a bad idea but as The End of the Universe as We Know It.

For example, at the Los Angeles Times Jonah Goldberg explains the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in the evil plot to bring America into the grip of dictatorship. Because the EPA (Goldberg says, ominously) has given itself the power to regulate everything, including the air you breathe.

Nominally, the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement last Friday only applies to new-car emissions. But pretty much everyone agrees that the ruling opens the door to regulating, well, everything.

According to the EPA, greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide — the gas you exhale — as well as methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. It is literally impossible to imagine a significant economic or human activity that does not involve the production of one of these gases.

Ah, how diabolical. The EPA can regulate everything that involves carbon dioxide, which is pretty much all air-breathing life forms on this planet.

For a little background, read the New York Times editorial on the EPA policy:

The formal “endangerment finding” names carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases as pollutants subject to regulation under the federal Clean Air Act. This in turn sets the stage — after a 60-day comment period — for broad new rules touching major sectors of the American economy and profoundly influencing how Americans use and generate energy.

The finding is also likely to accelerate the progress of climate legislation in Congress and will give the United States the credibility it lost in international climate negotiations during the Bush administration. The next round of talks is scheduled for Copenhagen in December.

The decision has been a long time coming. Two years ago, the United States Supreme Court ordered the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases harmed the environment and public health and, if so, to regulate them. Scientists at former President George W. Bush’s E.P.A. largely agreed that greenhouse gases are harmful and should be regulated. In December 2007, the agency forwarded an endangerment finding to the White House, where senior officials promptly suppressed it, refusing even to open the e-mail to which it was attached.

Talk about judicial activism! The Supreme Court was in on the plot two years before Obama became President! Of course, what you don’t see anywhere in Goldberg’s column is anything resembling a reasoned, documented argument why the EPA’s policy regarding greenhouse gasses is not the best approach for, you know, protecting the environment.

BTW, here’s the background on the Supreme Court decision, which passed by a 5-4 vote, the usual dissenters (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas) dissenting. More here and here.

But, you know, there’s a list that goes on and on. The marginal tax rate for millionaires is bumped up by 3 percent, and the wingnuts start screaming about econo-fascism. (Because, you know, calling it socialism isn’t working.) What you don’t get is anything resembling a reasoned, factual discussion of Obama’s actual tax policies (as opposed to the fantasy Obama tax policies the Right complains about) and why they might not be a good idea.

For that matter, someone explain why wingnuts scream bloody murder when someone suggests paying taxes is patriotic. They say they love America, but they don’t want to pay to maintain it? Isn’t that a bit like saying you love your children, but not enough to be bothered to feed and clothe them?

A rightie might argue they are only opposed to taxes that are too high or unfair taxes — taxing some people at a higher rate than others. OK, fine. Then stop fomenting hysteria and attempt a reasoned, factual discussion. (Clue: A fact is generally defined as something that has objective, verifiable reality; it is not anything you want to believe because it fits your prejudices.)

In other news, the lying aggregate of fecal matter known as “Newt Gingrich” went ballistic because President Obama not only shook hands with Hugo Chavez; he smiled and shook hands at the same time. Satyam Khanna points out at Think Progress that lots of presidents have shaken hands with dictators and smiled while they were doing it.

Gingrich said on NBC,

How do you mend relationships with somebody who hates your country, who actively calls for the destruction of your country and who wants to undermine you?

Which brings me back to the cartoon at the top of the post. We turn once again to Richard Hofstadter, here quoting Theodore W. Adorno:

The pseudo-conservative, Adorno writes, shows “conventionality and authoritarian submissiveness” in his conscious thinking and “violence, anarchic impulses, and chaotic destructiveness in the unconscious sphere… The pseudo conservative is a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition.”

How much more spot on can one get? They’ve somehow simultaneously staked claims on both “love it or leave it” super-nationalism and “hate the Gubmint” anarchism, which may be unprecedented.

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