Archive for June 25th, 2006

Cassandra ’08!

I just got back from seeing An Inconvenient Truth with spork_incident, and it was everything I had hoped for and more. Gore has been presenting and fine-tuning this message for a long, long time, and his presentation is inexorably logical and organized. And alarming, as indeed it is meant to be.

I found myself thinking, “We are so screwed,” over and over and over again. I knew things were bad, but I had no idea just how bad. And despite his assurances that we have the capability right now to fix the atmosphere’s CO2 imbalance, I think we’re in some serious trouble, for two primary reasons.

1) CO2 and glacial/arctic ice levels are so far out of their normal equilibrium right now that I believe we are bound to experience some nasty climate effects, even if we were to jump into a full-blown program of robust countermeasures this very day.

2) The political will is simply not there. Nor will it ever be there until the balance of power shifts from the corporations to the citizenry. And even then, that citizenry must be informed and motivated. As long as a voting majority of Americans view environmentalists as a bunch of wild-eyed tree-hugging loonies who want to stifle industry and take away our jobs, nothing positive will happen. So, once again, we need a media that doesn’t solely represent corporate and Republican interests.

Yes, theoretically our elected officials could see the light and dedicate themselves to saving the planet, political consequences be damned, but, well… no. Very little in their past behavior suggests that this is likely ever to happen, not until saving the planet becomes congruent with saving their own asses. If the polls get up to somewhere on the order of “70-80% in favor of not letting the Earth turn into Venus,” maybe then we might see the government show some “leadership” on the subject. Either that, or Halliburton and Exxon/Mobil start investing heavily in environmental technologies.

One of the interesting devices Gore used to make this overwhelming and abstract issue more “relatable” (aside from a very funny quasi-Simpsons cartoon) was to use tragedy and near-tragedy in his own family as metaphors for our current situation. He talked about his six-year-old son’s brush with death as a way of illustrating the profundity of almost losing something that you cherish, and how that kind of experience can change your life and sense of purpose.

More powerfully and aptly, he talked about his older sister’s death from lung cancer caused by smoking, and his father’s decision to stop growing tobacco soon afterward. All the rationalizations his father had used to justify making money from tobacco simply fell away when he experienced that shock. Not only did his beloved daughter die a horrible death, but it was indirectly by his own hand. Gore implies that we haven’t yet had that shock to snap us out of our senses and jolt us out of our comfortable rationalizations, but the fact is that we have. Hurricane Katrina was our wake-up call, and America slept right through it. And before that, the tsunami in Southeast Asia (of course, that didn’t really count, because it was Over There). The Earth is sounding ever-louder alarms, and We. Are. Not. Listening. I can’t begin to imagine Al Gore’s frustration as he desperately tries to alert us to our peril, and is perpetually ignored and marginalized by the mainstream and the conventional wisdom.

I will close with the Upton Sinclair quote that Gore uses in his presentation, which completely and perfectly explains our government and our media, on this issue and all others:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

3 comments June 25th, 2006 at 06:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Environment,Favorites,Gore,Media,Politics

Do Not Adjust Your Memory.

I just saw this scary post at American Prospect, by way of Atrios:

CNN has now picked up today’s Times‘s story saying that the top commander of forces in Iraq projects troop drawdowns through 2007 — in stark contrast to the GOP’s stay-the-course position. And guess what?

In the CNN story there is no mention whatsoever of the fact that the primary message of the Republican Party over the past week, delivered by party leaders and elected officials alike in every media forum imaginable, was that anyone calling for a timetable for withdrawal was embracing “retreat” and “surrender.”

And get this: The story doesn’t even mention at all that the GOP’s official position has been squarely against troop drawdowns, let alone mention that the Republicans relentlessly smeared anyone who was for them. The only hint of this comes at the very end of the story, where it vaguely notes that the “Senate” last week rejected calls for troop withdrawals, without specifying that this has overwhelmingly been the GOP’s position. Meanwhile, the only mention that Dems have been demanding troop drawdowns comes in the second-to-last sentence.


This is startling journalistic negligence, and it’s gonna be important to keep an eye out for more of the same. More broadly, if coverage of the evolving troop drawdown debate continues to omit crucial political context, it could enable the GOP to cynically muddy the waters on Iraq and confuse voters until they lose sight of the reality of the situation, which is that Dems overwhelmingly favor a change of course in Iraq, while Republicans simply aren’t serious about finding a way out of the catastrophic mess they made.

This speaks directly to the fundamental importance of the media, and the control thereof. It’s not just that the media controls the message and the spin of the news, but it controls the very perception of reality, and even memory itself. Think about this story for a second. Sargent is essentially saying that if the media doesn’t remind its readers and viewers that the Republican position has been staunchly anti-cut-and-run right up until this very day, that they’ll forget, or perhaps believe that they misremembered.

I’m hoping that this is not the case, and that the American people have the werewithal to say, “But wait – weren’t the Republicans just against this very thing yesterday? And why isn’t CNN mentioning that?” And I think a lot of them do. But there is a large and credulous chunk of the population (presumably the 30% who still think Bush is doing a fine job) for whom the world and all its history is born anew in its entirety each and every single day, and lovingly crafted into the Republicans’ image, and it seems like they all vote. If this sounds like alarmist hyperbole, then ask yourself why the media is able to distort history, even very recent history, all the time, without any negative repercussions or loss of credibility outside of the left-wing fever swamp. The media does whatever it can get away with in service of the Republican agenda, so to observe what they do is to observe what they can get away with.

This powerful and scary control over reality, and the American people’s complacency about it, is why it is so vitally important that the media be either fixed or discredited. I just wish I knew how.

1 comment June 25th, 2006 at 01:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Favorites,Iraq,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

You’re The Birthday, You’re The Birthday, You’re The Birthday, Boy Or Girl…

Allow me to join the Magical Happy Eggplants in wishing the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. the happiest of birthdays!

If Codename V. were here right now, I would take her out for a tasty meal…

And then to a nice romantic movie.

1 comment June 25th, 2006 at 10:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness

They Get Letters

I’m still pissed at Arlen Specter.

I’m sure I’m wasting my time, but if there is anything remotely human left inside that degraded, soulless husk, I would be remiss not to attempt to reach it. So…

Dear Senator Specter,

I read with interest your question, or perhaps lament, asking why it takes a newspaper investigation to get the Bush administration to comply with the law, and I have an answer for you.The answer is you, Senator Specter. You are the reason that this administration flouts the law on a regular, ongoing basis.

Every time the NSA or the CIA or any other government agency, or President Bush himself, is exposed as doing something illegal, you make a big show of questioning it, or saying that it is “troubling”, or even holding hearings to get to the bottom of it. And then you fold. You always fold. Instead of holding the administration accountable for the illegal actions you decry, in the end you seek ways to whitewash them, or even to make them legal. What incentive does the administration have to abide by the Constitution and the laws of the land if they know that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to give them a free pass every time?

You do not get to throw up your hands and ask why this is happening. It is happening because you, the Constitution’s principal guardian in the Senate, allow it to happen. For the sake of all of us, for the sake of your own self-respect, for the sake of this country of ours and the Constitution that makes it great, I beg you to please take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. Run your fingers along your back and get reacquainted with your spine. For if you do not start to take your responsibilities seriously, you will go down in history as the man who let the rule of law slip away, the man who allowed America to devolve from a great democracy into a third-rate dictatorship. Is that really what you want as your legacy? To be remembered as the man who betrayed American democracy?

I understand that you have an obligation to your party. But your obligation to your country must come first.



I’ll probably tinker with it a bit more before I send it, but that’s the general gist of it. I just had to get it out of my system.

UPDATE: I have swapped in the final post-tinkering version.

7 comments June 25th, 2006 at 12:48am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Favorites,Politics,Specter,Wankers

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