Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Action Alert: Why Are Liberals Such Losers? Part XXXCCDXVII 

Well, for one thing, liberals are burdened by schmuck-pundits like Nick Kristof who are so often identified as liberals, and aren't happy about it; having the courage of no convictions except the conviction his own career is at the center of the moral universe, Kristof regularly engages in liberal-bashing to insure his status as an independent thinker. Of course, before you can be considered an independent thinker, your work has to be recognizable as the work of someone who is able to think.

Okay, I'm mad as hell and I have little prospect of being able to not have to take it anymore, which doesn't mean I don't believe in trying. So, I'm stating my bias - outraged fury in defense of some form of the truth.

Now then, you tell me what mental process on the part of Mr. Kristof produced these paragraphs, and if it can fairly be described as "thinking?"
When environmentalists are writing tracts like "The Death of Environmentalism," you know the movement is in deep trouble.

That essay by two young environmentalists has been whirling around the Internet since last fall, provoking a civil war among tree-huggers for its assertion that "modern environmentalism, with all of its unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts and exhausted strategies, must die so that something new can live." Sadly, the authors, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, are right.

The U.S. environmental movement is unable to win on even its very top priorities, even though it has the advantage of mostly being right. Oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be approved soon, and there's been no progress whatsoever in the U.S. on what may be the single most important issue to Earth in the long run: climate change.
How can a movement whose assumptions are unexamined, whose concepts are outdated, and whose strategies are exhausted be mostly right?

"A civil war among tree-huggers?" Does it ever occur to someone like Kristof that the use of an entirely inaccurate and misleading cliche like "tree-hugger" is a bigger problem than anything else for the great majority of Americans who are worried about envionmental issues but find themselves increasingly divided from one another and marginalized by a signficantly smaller number of Americans who view the natural environment as appropriately subject to the gospel of growth, expansion, development and best preserved through the discipline of market as opposed to natural forces?

That essay Kristof mentions and the ruckus it's kicked up is worth several posts on their own, so I'll skip if for the time being. (Any alert readers who'd like to take a crack at it, let me know. Rob, where are you?)

Kristof's own analysis of what ails the environmental movement, which you can find here, is as thoughtless and unexamined as the output of most of our so-called liberal pundits, tired cliche after tired cliche, the same usual suspects summoned for blame.

No, not Paul Erlich again. Alarmism, you see, is the curse of the enivornmental movement. They've been wrong so many times, they've lost credibility. In paranthesis, Kristof allows that business interests are often alarmist about the results of environmental regulation, but he doesn't venture to think upon why those business interests haven't lost their credibility, but environmentalists have. After all, Rachel Carson was clearly an alarmist, and she was treated as such when "The Silent Spring" was first published. But what she has to say resonated with the experience of the huge majority of Americans who made her book a giant best seller.

Altbough acknowledging that environmentalism has made environmentalists of us all, Kristof cites a poll cited in "The Death of Environemntalism" that shows a majority of American consider "environmental activists" to be extremists. Gee, I wonder how that happened? Oh, that's right, environmentalists did it to themselves, by being such alarmists and then being proved wrong. Is that really the story? No, but the real story is the one story Kristof, and almost every other mainstream pundit won't talk about - the story of a counter movement financed by special interests and tied increasingly to the Republican party whose aim it has been, through a concerted campaign of propoganda, to discredit environmentalism by calling anyone who doesn't want off-shore drilling or doesn't understand that any worries about asbestos contamination are frivolous, are extremists. In this amalysis, the battle is not against that counter alliance, nor is the conflict between environmentalists and the Bush administration. No, the conflict is an inner conflict that environmentalists ignore at their peril.

Hold on, here's Kristof's dizzying conclusion:
The loss of credibility is tragic because reasonable environmentalists - without alarmism or exaggerations - are urgently needed.

Given the uncertainties and trade-offs, priority should go to avoiding environmental damage that is irreversible, like extinctions, climate change and loss of wilderness. And irreversible changes are precisely what are at stake with the Bush administration's plans to drill in the Arctic wildlife refuge, to allow roads in virgin wilderness and to do essentially nothing on global warming. That's an agenda that will disgrace us before our grandchildren.
I couldn't agree more that those are the priorities. But it is precisely those priorities, like legislation protecting endangered species, protecting wilderness, and worries about climate change for which environmentalists are most persistently attacked. Hasn't Kristof ever heard of the Spotted Owl?

Can you believe this guy has the nerve to mention ANWR without talking about who it is that is threatening it? And, by the way, it isn't those nasty energy companies anymore. That's what is so stunning about the Bush administration's obsession with bringing up the issue again, and trying to get it attached to the budget, insuring thereby that extended debate in the Senate can't defeat it again.

Time to move to ACTION ALERT mode. This is from Feb 21st edition of the NYTimes, (it's disappeared behind the paid archive wall, so you'll have to trust me to give you the gist)
George W. Bush first proposed drilling for oil in a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in 2000, after oil industry experts helped his presidential campaign develop an energy plan. Five years later, he is pushing the proposal again, saying the nation urgently needs to increase domestic production.

But if Mr. Bush's drilling plan passes in Congress after what is expected to be a fierce fight, it may prove to be a triumph of politics over geology.

Once allied, the administration and the oil industry are now far apart on the issue. The major oil companies are largely uninterested in drilling in the refuge, skeptical about the potential there. Even the plan's most optimistic backers agree that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America's needs.

While Democrats have repeatedly blocked the drilling plan, many legislators believe it has its best chance of passage this year, because of a Republican-led White House and Congress and tighter energy supplies. Though the oil industry is on the sidelines, the president still has plenty of allies. The Alaska Congressional delegation is eager for the revenue and jobs drilling could provide. Other legislators favor exploring the refuge because more promising prospects, like drilling off the coasts of Florida or California, are not politically palatable. And many Republicans hope to claim opening the refuge to exploration as a victory in the long-running conflict between development interests and environmentalists.

The refuge is a symbol of that larger debate, said Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who is a major supporter of drilling. Opponents agree. ''This is the No. 1 environmental battle of the decade,'' said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Whether that battle will be worthwhile, though, is not clear. Neither advocates nor critics can answer a crucial question: how much oil lies beneath the wilderness where the administration wants to permit drilling?

Advocates cite a 1998 government study that estimated the part of the refuge proposed for drilling might hold 10 billion barrels of oil. But only one test well has been drilled, in the 1980's, and its results are one of the industry's most closely guarded secrets.

A Bush adviser says the major oil companies have a dimmer view of the refuge's prospects than the administration does. ''If the government gave them the leases for free they wouldn't take them,'' said the adviser, who would speak only anonymously because of his position. ''No oil company really cares about ANWR,'' the adviser said, using an acronym for the refuge, pronounced ''an-war.''

Wayne Kelley, who worked in Alaska as a petroleum engineer for Halliburton, the oil services corporation, and is now managing director of RSK, an oil consulting company, said the refuge's potential could ''only be determined by drilling.''

''The enthusiasm of government officials about ANWR exceeds that of industry because oil companies are driven by market forces, investing resources in direct proportion to the economic potential, and the evidence so far about ANWR is not promising,'' Mr. Kelley said.

The project has long been on Mr. Bush's agenda.
So what's going on here? What is that larger battle? Think California, think the Gulf of Mexico, think the Oregon and Washington coastlines. And as exhausting is the list of Bush administration hypocricies, let us not forget that Bush allowed Florida to buy back the leases that would have allowed drilling off of Florida's shores, a wildly unpopular prospect among Jed Bush's constituents.

There is no limit to the shamelessness of George W. Bush and his minions. No limits on them, endless limits on the lives of the two thirds of Americans who don't view the world the way this President does. Yes, he managed to get the votes of half of the electorate, but his true base is no larger than a third of voting Americans.

It may be that Bush's shameless qualities will prove his undoing, because it can make it easier for opponents to link issues.

The budget process itself should be an issue. It's an unbelievable budget, shamelessly dishonest in its numbers, shamelessly brutal in its treatment of vulnerable Americans. Check out The Progress Report on this subject, and note that ANRW has a special place in all that awfulness.
The budget includes over a billion dollars in revenue from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), even though Congress hasn't authorized such drilling and has rejected President Bush's proposal to open ANWR to oil exploration for the last four years. Budget Director Josh Bolten defended the move, claiming, "the budget is the right place to present the entirety of the president's policies, so all of his proposals are reflected in there." Really? The Bush budget excludes all funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the administration's $2 trillion Social Security package.

I know, it makes one reel. And it's meant to. That's part of the game. Present so many targets, the opposition becomes dazed by the sheer fecundity of this administration's bad faith.

MoveOn is taking on the Budget process itself, trying to slow down the push to report it out before there's adequate debate. Admirable and necessary.

I think today, though, the focus has to be on ANWR. (Back Here, and Here for more on why ANWR matters)

There isn't a lot of time. Maria Cantwell has an amendment to the budget that will take ANWR off the budgetary table. The vote will be sometime within the next 24 to 48 hours. Lots of different sources can make it easy for you to do something. I'm offering this one, via John Kerry.
We have only 24 to 48 hours to try and save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Republicans are trying to sneak legislation through the Senate approving oil drilling and they are incredibly close to winning. We have to stop them.

I am joining with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) in offering a critical amendment to stop this sneak attack on our environment. We will fight on the floor of the Senate, but we need you by our side.

There are seven key Republican Senators whose votes will decide the future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Before they vote, we need to make sure they know that their constituents are watching, and that they will not be able to support drilling without anybody noticing.

Here are two critical steps we can take together to support our amendment to protect this National Wildlife Refuge:

1. Join the Citizens' Roll Call
First of all, take part in a massive fast-moving display of citizen support for the Arctic Refuge. Sign our Cantwell-Kerry Citizens' Roll Call now.


To make our Citizens' Roll Call impossible to ignore, we have alerted the media, environmental advocates and my fellow Senators to a scrolling display of the names and home towns of the roll call signers. It is posted on our johnkerry.com website, where we hope to soon add your name and a running tally of the number of citizens on our Citizens' Roll Call.

2. Bring the fight to the home states of the seven senators
We need to launch emergency online advertising campaigns in the home states of those seven critical senators: Senator Coleman (MN), Senator Smith (OR), Senator Specter (PA), Senator Martinez (FL), Senator Lugar (IN), and Senators Gregg and Sununu (NH).

Kerry is looking for contributions fto do that. I have no position on that. But what I think does matter is to call those Senators. If you're from their state say so. If not, call anyway. Plus, call your own Senators. Call ten of your friends and get them to call, and to get ten more of their friends to call. Visit Kerry's website before you do; he has lots of stuff including talking points.

You can find all numbers for any Senator here.

This is a big one, guys. Bush got the bankruptcy bill and his tort reform, if he gets this he looks like he's on a roll, even though he's only at 50 % overall approval rate. We've seen how he uses his ability to get legislation through a Republican congress to cause the What Liberal Media? to drop to their knees in awe.

Be a proud tree hugger. Imagine inviting one of those Arctic caribou to lunch. Fuck Bush. Fuck Nick Kristof. (Not to put too fine a point on one's arguments, and don't you hate when that happens, but given the present state of both our politics and our media makes how would it be possible to employ fine points in any capacity, except at the end of a poisen arrow? Speaking metaphorically, of course.)

If you need more inspiration, Althippo has been doing wonderful work on this subject, so check in there, even if you think you don't.

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