In the batter’s circle: Nehemiah Scudder
February 23rd 2012
In 2004 the renowned British political documentarian Adam Curtis did a three-part series entitled “The Power of Nightmares.” In it, he pointed out that the group known as the neo-cons greatly resembled their counterparts amongst the radicalized population of the Middle East, al Qaida in particular. Both sides are deeply mistrustful of individual freedom and liberties, and are intent on using authoritarian methods of containing such. Both sides used fear, if in different ways. Islamic radicals used terrorism, whereas neo-cons used fear-mongering. Each side found in the other a useful bogeyman.
The neo-cons lost power and influence in America (and the power and influence of al Qaida in the Middle East had always been vastly overstated), and withdrew from mainstream political discourse as the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan bogged down and eventually failed.
But another group stepped in to replace the neo-cons in American right-wing political circles, and I tend to think of them as the ‘anti-Soviets.’ They saw their role in America as being similar to the role of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union: a sort of shadow government without accountability, and with vast influence in the workings of the actual government. They were the “financial sector.”
Bull, and rumors of bull
February 18th 2012
It’s more than a little weird to see the Guardian, normally one of the more sensible newspapers, write a lead story that is pretty clearly informed by the growing war fever over Iran.
But in an article today, written by Chris McGreal and Conal Urquhart, it does just that, accepting without criticism the unfounded claims that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb, and utterly failing to mention that Israel has at least 25 nuclear bombs, and the United States, well over 8,000.
In other words, Israel alone could destroy every microbe on the surface of the land in every large city in Iran. The United States could so utterly destroy the country that it would retroactively vanish from all the history books. This would tend to make Iran think before pressing the button.
The article claims, thoroughly without evidence or even rationalization, that if Iran were to get nukes, then every other country in the middle east would want to get them, too. As if Israel getting nukes didn’t make her neighbors nervous. And the Bush administration had a simple message for the “evil doers” – nuke up, or the US might capriciously invade you. People noticed that Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded, but North Korea and Pakistan were not, and didn’t have much trouble concluding that the US wasn’t eager to attack nations that had nukes.
It’s the end of the world as we know it…
February 8th 2012
It’s chaos out there.
First, there was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the Walker ruling that found Prop 8 was unconstitutional. The populace of California, many of whom graduated from the eighth grade, did not have the right to deny legal rights to select parts of the Constitution.
I immediately ran over the the County Courthouse, and found thousands of married couples lining up to file for divorce. No surprise there, of course. This is, after all, California. But the crowd seemed more agitated than usual.
I spoke to one beefy looking lumberjack sort who was towing a sweet little eighteen year old thing while crying convulsively and wiping snot off on his flannel sleeve.
“Wrong team won the Superbowl?” I asked, cautiously.
“N-n-no! I won $50 bucks on that. It’s this faggot marriage thing!”
“Um, the Prop 8 ruling.”
“Whatever number it was. It’s wrong, just wrong. The bible sez so!”
“So why are you here?”
“Giting a dee-vorce!” I looked at his wife, who shrugged and gave me a fuzzy smile. Oxycontin is still popular in these parts.
Antarctica unimpressed with GOP declarations that global warming is a myth
February 4th 2012
Back in the summer of 2002, February and the first week of March, the Larsen B ice shelf on the east coast of the Antarctic peninsula suddenly and shockingly disintegrated. For people who had complacently assumed that Antarctic was too cold for global warming to have an effect, it was a wake up call.
The ice shelf didn’t just calve off the way the sheets of ice pushed into the ocean by the glaciers that formed them always do. If that were the case, it would have made for a big iceberg, about the size of Rhode Island, but nothing too extraordinary. Calving is the inevitable fate of ice pushed into the ocean by the glaciers. And the Larsen B, like the Larsen A before it, was expected to break off. Larsen A broke off in 1995, but since it was only 4,000 years old and was showing signs of calving, it came as no surprise to anyone. But Larsen B, older than the Holocene, was believed to be more stable, and would take much longer to calve off. However, it was the disintegration that was shocking.