Friday, February 16, 2007



Sean Hannity is outraged! Outraged, I tell you!

Today is a very dark day in America, and hundreds of thousands will die if Nancy Pelosi gets her way. She and Harry Reid, the entire Democratic party and 20 or so Republicans are out to "stab our troops in the back." These Democrats are all about politics, and they don't care about our troops. Nor do they care that our shores will be overrun with swarthy men with funny accents and all manner of doomsday devices strapped on their backs. So goes another day in Foxland.

Mark Levin, a more recent arrival on the right-wing talk circuit, the kind of guy who employs affected machismo, name-calling and outright yelling in lieu of eloquence, is even more outraged than Hannity. You want a performance, Levin will give you the most frantically strident show you ever heard on the airwaves. Nikita Khrushchev and his shoe have nothing on this guy. Nancy Pelosi is a left-wing extremist, Levin will have you know, and not only that, but she's from San Francisco.

Enough already. These talk radio demagogues can't stand that Americans have lost all confidence in President Bush and this ridiculous war that has only diverted from the true mission of fighting terrorism and so much worse. These talking head ideologues can't stand that they've lost America and that more and more people see folks like Hannity and Levin as the true extremists. These two and their ilk wish to paint the Democrats as radicals but don't want us to know that most Americans agree that the war was a mistake and the idea of sending in even more troops seems like even greater insanity.

Now let's forget about the talk radio buffoons and talk about how Americans apparently really feel. It's not at all what the war supporters would like, nor is it really what the antiwar people are getting at, either. According to AP-Ipsos survey results released today, 56 percent of Americans find the war to be a "hopeless cause," while 39 percent agree that it's a "worthy cause." Sixty-three percent oppose sending more troops, as opposed to the 35 percent (an admittedly growing figure) who favor it. But paradoxically, 68 percent of Americans do not want to pull out of Iraq. Only 29 percent do.

That seems like a contradiction, doesn't it? To believe the polls, the average American sees the war in Iraq as a lost cause but opposes a pullout. And I understand this reasoning. It's hard to pull out. Even though I essentially support doing just that, it's not easy to say that, and part of me wants to keep trying. Hell, part of me even wants to grant President Bush's wish for 20,000 more troops. Give the guy what he needs to have one last shot at winning, just so we can say we exhausted all possibilities.

But in the end, I believe it's time to pull out and go home, and I wish the Democrats would have the guts to stand up and say that, and not go with this chickenshit halfway stuff they seem to be advocating for now. I honestly don't think that these extra troops will do anything but prolong this four-year debacle and result in even more dead American troops. Since I oppose an escalation, and keeping them there without the extra support seems crazy, I don't see any choice but to accept defeat and go home. And that outrages some people.

I guess I can't make everyone happy, so here are some points I've made before that I'll make again:
1) The terrorists were not in Iraq to begin with. Saddam Hussein was not alligned with the terrorists. Therefore, I ask, how does starting a war with Iraq make us safer from terrorists?
2) While we were busy deposing Saddam, the terrorists regrouped and brought their jihad to us in Iraq. So now we really are fighting terrorists in Iraq, but it seems more like a self-fulfilling prophecy than any smart strategy on our part.
3) We were told this war was to be fought over weapons of mass destruction. Bush built this argument using a web of deceitful misinformation, so we shouldn't be surprised that we never found the WMD. I'm told that Bush had good intentions, nonetheless, so I guess that makes everything OK.
4) This war has been nothing but a mismanaged mess from the second Colin Powell opened his mouth about fictional yellowcake from Niger to Ken Adelman's "cakewalk" predictions to the burning and pillaging of Baghdad to the nonexistent body armor to KBR's $300 cases of Coca-Cola. After all this, why should I have the slightest confidence in our president that he'll lead us to victory in Iraq?
5) Frankly, this new "plan" looks like nothing more than staying the course, just in a bigger way. Bush still doesn't seem to have any new ideas about how to change things, and staying on a course that has met with nothing but failure will do nothing but lead us to more failure. It's almost guaranteed.
6) Sean Hannity is right. If we pull out, the terrorists will not go away. But guess what, even if we somehow won, they still wouldn't go away. Furthermore this notion that we actually have a choice of either fighting them over there or here at home is just plain foolishness. The terrorists will be a threat either way.
7) Why would we fight a conventional war against terrorism, anyway? We're fighting a war against a concept, not a real army. Our enemy is made of small, loosely affiliated, always dynamic bands of individuals. How can we fight a conventional war against such an enemy? Shouldn't this be a law enforcement and intelligence issue, with the military used in a limited, more precise way?
8) The rest of the world hates us these days. Anti-Americanism is at an all-time high, even among countries that we often consider our closest friends. Is this anti-Americanism sometimes over the top and unfair? Of course. Do these people also have a few valid points? Absolutely, and I'd say more than a few. Are we really right, and the rest of the world wrong?
9) I suspect quite the opposite would happen from Hannity's dire predictions. If we pulled out, I really do believe that tensions in that part of the world would de-escalate, at least a little. Maybe that's naive, but I do know that our presence over there is doing no good and lots of harm.
10) The Right can talk tough all they want. For some, it comes off like a therapeutic compensation for a self-perceived deficit somewhere. But as manly and tough as it makes them feel, no amount of tough talk can cover-up what most Americans see.

So there, that's what I think of our war in Iraq. And if Sean Hannity wishes to equate that with stabbing troops in the back, well, I suppose that's just one more lie about Iraq that the Right wishes to perpetuates.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


OK, so now can we agree on global warming?

So let's see where things stand on the global warming "debate."

We learn this week that the most comprehensive report on the matter minces the fewest words yet. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expresses 90 percent certainty that the planet is warming before our eyes and that we are to blame for it. Global temperatures are expected to rise 3 to 11 degrees by 2100 with ocean levels rising as much as 23 feet. Those dire chicken little predictions of the past 20 years have turned out to be undestatements. It's too late to stop this climatological freight train, but perhaps we can mitigate it significantly if we act now. At least that's what this report, which relied on scientists from over 2,000 scientists from 113 countries, contends. I'm not a scientist, and so I won't pretend to speak authoritatively on the science of global warming and climate change. Instead, I'll cast my lot with what most scientists believe, and at this point, it's clear that the vast majority of scientists believe that human activity is warming the planet.

Can we now declare this debate over, once and for all? Apparently not, as some conservatives (I say "some" because I believe most conservatives also believe the consensus of the scientific community) insist on denying. Sean Hannity said on Thursday that these scientists sound like a bunch of hysterical children, and he managed to dig up some guy from MIT to concur. We know there are some like Hannity, who still want to pretend there's a debate on this issue, that a handful of global warming naysayers is sufficient to negate what most of us would agree is consensus. There remain many who insist the Holocaust is a myth, that the Earth is flat, and the Moon-landing was a hoax. Yet, most of us consider these matters to be completely settled. So why do we insist on pandering to those who so badly wish to believe that a few fringe elements constitute credible debate?

We've seen the 1998 memo dredged up from Exxon-Mobil officials urging that money be spent to fund global warming deniers to propogate this illusion of debate, which in turn allow President Bush to say that these questions are unsettled. We learned this week that the American Enterprise Institute, funded by Exxon-Mobil and closely tied to the Bush White House, was peddling an offer of $10,000 to any scientist to publicly poke holes in the IPCC report. We know of the many government climate scientists who quit because of heavy-handed editing of their work to play down any mention of the possibility that we're making our planet warmer.How many times have we heard U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., call global warming "a hoax?" And don't forget science fiction writer Michael Crichton, whose book "State of Fear" describes those who warn of global warming as part of a sinister conspiracy and web of deceit, a portrayal that earned Crichton an invitation to the White House to advise President Bush on climate issues. I find it laughable that Crichton, whose books warn that nanoparticles will turn the planet into a mass of gray goo and that prehistoric creatures will eat us if we keep messing with DNA, now implores us to be reasonable.

Then there are the average rank-and-file Joes who buy into all this denial and sophistry.
"A new, IPCC report, is nothing more than guesses and theories," writes the blogmeister at NewsByUs (get the right-wing pun?) "However, it was written by people with the same misguided mind set as Al Gore." From what I can tell, Mr. NewsByUs is a Christian conservative. I presume he's part of the religious right establishment that has sold itself out to satisfy the interests of corporate America, or perhaps he's one of those who believes that Jesus will return in the next few weeks, so who cares if the Earth gets warmer? Or judging by his blog, his hatred for liberals is so knee-jerk that anything Al Gore says automatically demonstrates a left-wing conspiracy. Come on, even Pat Robertson now says, "I'm a convert." Speaking last summer on "The 700 Club," he said, “It is getting hotter and the ice caps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air. We really need to do something on fossil fuels.”

Yet disbelief persists from those insisting on an impossible threshhold of truth. In other words, they don't wish to believe, therefore they refuse to. It's an inconvenient truth, to be sure. The deniers employ the powers of dubious observation (If the Earth is warming, then why was it so cold this morning?); folksy homespun wisdom (Now, come on folks, my granddad said it was plenty hot when he was bent over with his cotton sack, so let's not lose our heads here); re-interpretation of what the science actually reports (I don't care if the IPCC Third Assessment explicitly states that we're making our planet warmer, if you actually read the report, it says otherwise); anti-media obfuscation (Of course the media reported that the IPCC said we're causing global warming. They're a bunch of liberals. What do you expect?); and isolated, localized facts with no context ("Britain is one degree Celsius cooler now than it was at the time of the Domesday book," states one denial website).

So, since I hold with the four-out-of-five scientists doctrine, let's see what the scientific community says. Four IPCC assessments have now been issued since the panel was commissioned in 1988. Each one has turned up the volume to state with greater and greater certainty that human activity is causing global climate change. The National Academy of Sciences this past summer, in a report commissioned by Congress, stated, "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions." A group of several large American corporations, including Alcoa, Duke Energy, Caterpillar, DuPont, BP and General Electric sided last month with environmentalists on the global warming debate, calling on the U.S. government to take action now to curb greenhouse emissions.

So, now that we've spent the past 20 years studying the matter, can we move on now and do something to save our planet? Apparently not, because the granddaddy of all global warming deniers resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and I don't expect him to budge anytime soon.

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