Global warming lets loose a river in Egypt

25 04 2007

Great example of global warming denial found by Open Mind. I’ve pretty much got to the point where I think open scorn and derision is the proper response to the denier foot soldiers. They obviously lack the ability to reflect logically on the holes in their arguments.

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Eye candy for rightwing nuts

28 03 2007

Eve’s Bite hurts, bitch!

Ian Wishart has a new book coming which takes aim at a range of liberal “sacred cows”. In it, you’ll see him have a merry time “demolishing Richard Dawkins, sideswiping the anti-smacking lobbyists, skewering the social engineers and exposing the elites who want your taxes and your children while they laugh all the way to the bank like perverse Pied Pipers.”

He’s making advance review copies available to bloggers. No, I won’t snapping up that offer. All you need to know about this guy is that he’s an Intelligent Design advocate — (cough) creationist (cough) — and is probably going to attack Richard Dawkins’ Book The God Delusion through selective misquoting and a judicious heaping of side-of-the-mouth insults.

Sorry, I’ve got better things to do with my time.

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World domination through the back door

14 03 2007

back doorGreat article in TNR from Andrew Sullivan, “The Global Moral Majority”. He talks about Dinesh D’Souza’s latest screed, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, in which the one-time agent provocateur of the university set attempts to lay the blame for 9/11 solidly at the feet of U.S. liberals.

Yup, that’s right. Liberals caused 9/11. Because, according to D’Souza, they led America to worship individualism and hold consumerism and ego satisfaction above all else—not to mention their contempt for religion.

A lot has already been written about The Enemy at Home, all of it by people a lot smarter than me, but this latest piece is notable for coming from a writer who in the days following the terrorist strikes on the Twin Towers, gave a chummy shout-out—and a not-so-veiled warning—to everybody’s favourite America-haters:

The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead – and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.

So if anyone should know about how U.S. citizens are stymieing the War on Terror, it’s Andrew Sullivan. Of course, Sullivan would later strongly veer left on the war, due largely to his principled opposition to the U.S.’s handling of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

What’s also important about this new piece is that, as Sullivan points out, D’Souza is nakedly (and refreshingly, as far as Sullivan is concerned) stating what his true aim is:

The sole merit of Dinesh D’Souza’s new book is that it acknowledges this intellectual collapse, even as it is itself a document of that collapse; and it proposes a new way forward. Whatever else may be said about The Enemy at Home–and the maledictions from left and right have been ferocious–it has at least the courage to pursue the logic of Bush-era conservatism all the way to its end. In this sense, it is a mainstream conservative book, in its own way even a visionary one, expanding on the direction that American conservatism has taken and daring it to continue aggressively on that very path.

What is that path? At its core is a deepening rejection of cultural and philosophical modernity. D’Souza believes that the defining new distinction in American politics is no longer between the economic right and the economic left. The size of government and its role as a guardian of the public welfare are increasingly dead issues, or issues where no vital energy crackles. D’Souza rightly holds that the real divide in the new century is between authority and autonomy, between faith-based politics and individual freedom. And in this struggle at the level of first principles, D’Souza chooses his own side. He is at war with the modern West. If forced to choose between a theocratic order that upheld traditional morality and a secular order that saw such morality marginalized, D’Souza is with the former. He puts it more graphically himself: “Yes, I would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt. But when it comes to core beliefs, I’d have to confess that I’m closer to the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap.”

That pretty much says it all (but I encourage you to read the whole thing).

I remember being in an honours year literature course when our lecturer, a handle-bar moustachioed Canadian who identified as a conservative and once read out his poems naked at an arts festival in Edinburgh (though that’s neither here nor there), had us debate one of D’Souza’s earlier books, a tirade against affirmative action. I don’t remember much about the book or the debate except to say that the lecturer was a very smart cookie who had us all on the ropes.

Back then, he encouraged us impressionable young students to think outside the liberal box, and to see D’Souza as a principled conservative. I wonder what he thinks of him now.

[image by destinelee, at Flickr]

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Into the abyss

13 03 2007

What is the Matrix?

[What is the matrix? by t-mix at Flickr under Creative Commons licence.]

Great article by Gary Kamiya at Salon (click through the ad for a day pass). Gary’s one of my favourite writers (when he focuses on communicating ideas rather than jetting off on rhetorical flourishes), and in this piece he looks at what the U.S. right’s embrace of Ann Coulter really means.

If you’re not a connoisseur of the increasingly unhinged political discourse in America, here’s the basic story: Coulter, one of the right’s shriller firebrands, set off a media storm when she called Democratic Presidential nominee John Edwards a “faggot”. And she didn’t say it just anywhere. This family moment came at the annual meeting of the American Conservative Union’s Political Action Conference, the largest gathering of core conservatives on the U.S. right’s calendar.

In the aftermath, she was loudly denounced by liberals and some conservatives. Some right wingers even launched a petition to put pressure on conservative and university organisations to stop inviting her to deliver speeches (h/t Tim F. at Balloon Juice).

But, as many liberal commentators and bloggers have pointed out, the right can no more easily disentangle itself from Coulter than conjoined twins can wish themselves separated. As Kamiya says, the hatred that Coulter represents and which is her only talent, is the very reason the modern right has embraced her:

[T]his isn’t really about Coulter at all. This is about a pact the American right made with the devil, a pact the devil is now coming to collect on. American conservatism sold its soul to the Coulters and Limbaughs of the world to gain power, and now that its ideology has been exposed as empty and its leadership incompetent and corrupt, free-floating hatred is the only thing it has to offer. The problem, for the GOP, is that this isn’t a winning political strategy anymore — but they’re stuck with it. They’re trapped. They need the bigoted and reactionary base they helped create, but the very fanaticism that made the True Believers such potent shock troops will prevent the Republicans from achieving Karl Rove’s dream of long-term GOP domination.

Kamiya goes on to link this to the right’s Quixotic culture war. He makes a couple of great points about how the extremism now leading the Republicans (and, might I add, the media!) by the nose is far from conducive to sustained electoral success. While 9/11 was a stab of adrenalin into the right-wing bloodstream, allowing them to foist an incipient authoritarianism on the country, the moderates that comprise the bulk of the body politic are beginning to turn away in droves.

Then he makes a great point.

Yet despite their supposed beliefs, a kind of nihilism,an intellectual sterility, emanates from the Coulters and Limbaughs of the world. This is in part due to the fact that they are, at bottom, entertainers, stand-up comedians of resentment. Their riffs are so facile and endless that they devour whatever actual beliefs supposedly stand behind them. Incapable of compromise or nuance, lashing out robotically, never finding common ground or examining their own ideas, they are shills of negativity, forever battling cartoonish monsters in a lurid, increasingly unrecognizable world. [Emphasis added]

My summary hardly does the article justice; read the whole thing.

The interesting thing for me from a Kiwi perspective is that we’ve started to see this brand of authoritarianism being imported to New Zealand. I’m still sorting out my ideas about this and will post my thoughts when they’re more solidified. For now, let this, from Investigate Magazine‘s blog, TBR.cc, whet your appetite. It’s about a recent study finding that polar bear numbers in an area of Canada are on the rise despite concerns about declining numbers in the wider Arctic.

Momma polar bear with her two cubs is pretty cute huh?

A perfect icon for urban liberals to fret over as the sup their Starbucks.

She might not be so cute close up though. She might well think an urban liberal or two would make a tasty change from seals to feed to her cubs.

Charming.

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