Wow. This seems like a metaphor for some relationships I’ve been in (“Mike was run over by a cute blonde girl and remained trapped for eight months, but escape relatively unscathed. Insert your own bumper joke.”)
Archive for November, 2009
I generally like Neal Boortz. But he has completely lost his shit on global warming, posting a massive screed today that thumbs every crank button on the panel. In Boortz’s missive, we learn:
1) Global warming theory was created by the UN to create a redistributionist scheme (the theory predates the UN).
2) The environmental movement is composed entirely of socialists (partly true, but irrelevant)
3) Global warming scientists refuse to account for the solar cycle (completely false).
4) Global warming supporters don’t want to debate and claim the science is settled (as opposed to Boortz, who is absolutely convinced this is a fraud).
5) CRU used tricks to cook the data (False).
6) Scientists disposed of of the raw climate data, which can never be recovered (also false).
7) This is all a conspiracy to prepare us for invasion by the reverse vampires.
OK, I made that last one up.
It’s stuff like this that drove me from the camp of disbelieving skeptics into believing skeptics. This is pure whack-job conspiracy theorism. We’ve had a whole holiday weekend during which it was possible for Boortz to find out the reality behind the “tricks”. He hasn’t even bothered. He’s wallowing in the Right Wing Echosphere, hearing only other ignorami’s OUTRAGE! over this scandal.
It’s sad. What is it about the climate that turns people (on either side, really) into such raving loons?
Charles Krauthammer, one of the smarter neocons, takes a defensible conservative position on global warming. We need more of this.
I’d get flayed for putting this on the other blog, so I’ll put it here. James Fallows has an interesting analysis of Obama’s trip to China. Far from being an embarrassment, some genuine progress was made.
The difference is that where Bush went in with useless bluster — bluster being the only thing that the Right Wing Echosphere cares about — Obama went in with quiet negotiation. Foreign policy should be like an iceberg — 90% of it being invisible to the public. I have no idea if any of it is going to work in the end (and nothing, it seems, can fix Israel). And I suspect that, as always, I won’t like some of what Obama does. But I like the long-term approach.
Honestly, it sometimes seems like the punditshere learned everything the know about foreign relations by playing Civilization.
Update: This is the sort of thing I deal with whenever I argue that climate change might be real.
Why do I sometimes use the word “denial” for a certain class of global warming skeptics? Because of shit like this, in which hacked e-mails are quoted out of context to “prove” — in an extraordinarily weak way — that global warming is a hoax. As a scientist, the e-mails don’t sound unusual or conspiratorial to me. It sounds like what it is — private and sometimes flippant communication between people trying to unravel a very complex and difficult scientific question.
Update: Just read the comment stream over at Hot Air. I defy anyone to read it and not think “denial” is an appropriate word for the conspiracy theory that is thrown around anytime the subject of global warming comes up. The usual discredited talking points — global cooling, 1934, supposed falling temperatures, Mars temperatures, etc. — are all out in full force. And any attempt to dispute their absolute certainty that global warming is not just wrong, but a massive hoax, is shouted down and mocked. I put up a comment or too and was quickly labelled an idiot, a hysteric and asked if my screen was covered with spittle from a quite reasonable post.
This is not skepticism; this is sticking fingers in ears and yelling. This is not science; this is religion.
One question they never seem to have an answer for: what’s their big theory? What do they think the CO2 is doing? Nothing?
52% of Republicans think ACORN stole the last election. That is, an organization that got outwitted by a dim-bulb film-maker and a skinny actress managed to pull off one of the greatest political conspiracies of all time.
Even if ACORN did manufacture votes — and bogus registrations of the Easter Bunny proves nothing — it is highly doubtful this made a difference.
1) ACORN would have been stealing votes primarily in parts of the country Obama was going to win anyway.
2) Barack Obama won by ten million votes. This would require vote-stealing on a scale that makes Richard Daley look honest.
3) That is assuming, of course, that all Republican political organization are as pure as wind-driven snow, which I somehow doubt.
None of this matter to conspiracy theorists, of course. Whether it is the JFK assassination or the moon landing, they are interested in confirming their preconceived notions, not analyzing objective fact.
In this case, however, there are parties with a very strong interest in promulgating this lie. They don’t want to believe that the country — a conservative country — rejected their eight years of fiscal recklessness, foreign policy buffoonery and Constitutional malfeasance.
The wreckage of the GOP is desperate to make the last eight years a triumph instead of a tragedy. They’re already attacking Reagan’s legacy, since many of his policies were one hundred eighty degrees from those animating the GOP’s corpse. Now they’re trying to rewrite the narrative of the past decade.
Me? I believe that up is up, down is down, black is black and white is white. My memory of the past eight years is clear and fierce. I’m not about to let some political shills engage in Soviet-style historical revisionism and tell me that everything was going swell until the evil liberals and media demeaned Bush, bashed Palin and stole the election. Too much has been lost for that.
Steve Chapman has an interesting article over at Reason arguing that the country is not polarized at it seems:
Here’s a solution to that problem: Stop watching cable TV news channels and listening to politicians. Using them as a gauge of how divided we are is like using the National Hockey League to estimate the level of violence in America.
Most Americans aren’t rabid liberals or fanatical conservatives. Gallup recently found that more people call themselves conservative than liberal or moderate. But other polls contradict it. According to a 2008 survey by the National Opinion Research Center, when you give them more options—extremely liberal, liberal, slightly liberal, moderate, slightly conservative, conservative, or extremely conservative—you find that the largest ideological group is moderates, with 37.3 percent compared to 34.5 percent for the three conservative groups combined.
Add up the moderates and those who are only slightly liberal or slightly conservative and those who don’t know—those clustered in the middle of the road—and you’ve got about two-thirds of the citizenry. As political scientists Morris Fiorina of Stanford’s Hoover Institution and Samuel Abrams of Harvard put it, “the American electorate in 2008 is much better described as centrist than polarized.”
Read the whole thing. I agree, to some extent. I think the American people feel a lot more polarized than they actually are. I know many conservatives, for example, who are routinely hyperventilating about how socialist Obama is and how about he’s destroying this country. And I know many liberal who thought Bush was a fascist.
But that hysteria is a product of warped perception. In reality, if you were to take the parties out of it and just ask people about issues, you would find that our political divisions are not nearly that deep. The problem is that conservative, in particular are being fed a steady diet of right populist talk show bullshit from jerks who have a vested interest in making things feel a lot worse than they are. I can’t stand to watch/listen to them anymore. When Hannity or Limbaugh or Beck or anyone comes on the radio (or liberal talking heads, for that matter), I change the station. I’m getting tired of having my emotions played with. I’m getting tired of being told that everytime Obama does something dumb, it’s because of some vast communist conspiracy or his hatred of America. I’m getting tired of being told that everyone who objects to Obama’s policies is a racist monster. As Ta-Nehisi recently said:
I find that listening to political operatives to be unrevealing. They’re always selling. It’s why I can’t watch cable news. It’s like watching two used car salesmen fight it out on MILF Island. How’s that for mixed metaphors.
That’s a perfect metaphor. I don’t feel like I’m watching political debates any more; I’m watching a bad episode of reality TV. It has the appearance of reality, but it’s all staged and contrived. Everything is exaggerated to the nth degree; small problems became major ones; major problems become earth-shattering calamities. Obama just bowed to the Japanese Emperor. He shouldn’t have. But to listen to the punditsphere, you would think he burned the American flag.
Our politicians, unfortunately, are playing right along with this game. I recently plotted out the distribution of various political ranking systems — you know, those ones that claims “Senators Schmickiebick is the 9th most liberal members of Congress”. I expected to see the Gaussian distribution I would probably get if I polled Americans.
Instead, it was bimodal. You had one tall peak at one extreme liberal end and a tall peak at one extreme conservative end. In between, there were only a handful of McCains and Liebermans and Hagels.
But that’s not the way America thinks. If we really were that polarized, opinion polls would never change. Instead, the opinion of the majority constantly shifted and changes. Healthcare, for example, will vary in support over time from 60% to 40%. That only happens if America is a much more moderate country than we think. No polarized conservative would ever support healthcare; no polarized liberal would oppose it. Only moderates can change their minds like that.
Our politics are polarized. Our commentariat is crazy. But the nation, apart from a small percentage, are fine.