Our Continuing National Disgrace

Is our media. Today’s evidence is this Michael Gerson op-ed, in which he opens with a story about the endangered polar bears, threatened by climate change, and informs us that their worst enemy is… environmental activists:

Once, the main threat to these creatures came from hunters who lived in lonely shacks and set traps along the ocean shore. Now a threat comes from an unexpected source: elements of the environmental movement, whose political blindness and ideological baggage may undermine efforts to reduce the role of carbon in the global economy.

***

Some Republicans and conservatives are prone to an ideologically motivated skepticism. On AM talk radio, where scientific standards are not particularly high, the attitude seems to be: “If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.” Gore’s partisan, conspiratorial anger is annoying, yet not particularly relevant to the science of this issue.

This points, however, to a broader problem. Any legislation ambitious enough to cut carbon emissions significantly and encourage new energy technologies will require a broad political and social consensus. Nothing this complex and expensive gets done on a party-line vote. Yet many environmental leaders seem unpracticed at coalition-building. They tend to be conventionally, if not radically, liberal. They sometimes express a deep distrust for capitalism and hostility to the extractive industries. Their political strategy consists mainly of the election of Democrats. Most Republican environmental efforts are quickly pronounced “too little, too late.”

Got it? Environmental activists are to blame for not working enough with the people who oppose them, denounce them, mock them, work openly to sabotage their efforts, and have created a cottage industry creating and spreading pseudo-scientific babble.

What twisted bastard at the Washington Post reviews these op-eds and thinks they are worth printing? What kind of jackass believes the real problem regarding the environment is the environmental movement, and not James Inhofe. This is like blaming doctors for not being willing enough to work with the tobacco industry to prevent cancer.

I don’t know why anyone reads the Washington Post op-ed pages anymore. Just a disgrace.

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96 replies
  1. 1
    dbrown says:

    The loon has a point – that is, if these loud mouth children would shut up about the priest and ministers that sexually assault them, but learn how to compromise and accept limited rape, sodomy and sexual attacks, the whole problem would go away … sick.

  2. 2
    El Cid says:

    This is like blaming doctors for not being willing enough to work with the tobacco industry to prevent cancer.

    I’ll bet that less than 15 minutes’ worth of Google time demonstrates that this was, in fact, not a hypothetical. As a matter of fact, I’ll wager that at least one reader here clearly recalls an instance of the “Tobacco Institute”, its drones, and Republican backers arguing exactly that when this issue was most prominent in the news due to court cases and potential political action.

    Remember, ‘bipartisanship’ and whatnot means — in the rightwing / mainstream nexus — giving in to the right, no matter how nightmarishly wrong and freakish they may be, especially when the right actually seems like it might not win on some issue.

  3. 3
    JL says:

    Why read op-ed pages at all. 24/7 news stations and talk radio also add to the dumbing down of Americans.

  4. 4
    Andrew says:

    I think it’s great that the WaPo gives someone mentally challenged like Michael Gerson a place to practice writing.

  5. 5
    frogspawn says:

    Remember, ‘bipartisanship’ and whatnot means—in the rightwing / mainstream nexus—giving in to the right

    Bipartisanship=date rape, and they wish to be the ones on top.

  6. 6
    gbear says:

    I think it’s great that the WaPo gives someone mentally challenged like Michael Gerson a place to practice writing.

    I think it’s even better that they provide a comments link so that people can critique Michael Gerson’s writing. Far more entertaining, accurate and intelligent than the oped on it’s own (with some great raving wingnuttia thrown in for variety).

  7. 7
    Danothebaldyheid says:

    John Cole – I intellectually love you.
    Just thought I’d admit it….

  8. 8
    Incertus says:

    It’s like Gerson wants to be the older brother who grabs his little brother by the forearms and makes him punch himself in the face. Only we’re not so little, and we’re not afraid to kick him in the balls.

  9. 9
    ThymeZone says:

    WaPo lost it mojo a long time ago.

    I don’t know why anyone reads the Washington Post op-ed pages anymore

    Newspapers’ readerships are declining.

    Last year, circulation fell 3 percent in the United States and 1.9 percent in Europe, the report showed; in the past five years, circulation was down 8 percent in the U.S.

    MSNBC from a June story.

  10. 10

    Ya’ know, that is a rather misleading title, since he talked about bears n’ stuff, but I never saw him make the argument that environmental activists were a threat to polar bears. Somehow he makes the argument that, basically, they are a threat to humans.

    And fuck him for not giving Gore the respect he is due. I am so sick of this shit and I AM clutching my pearls.

  11. 11

    Scuse me, I meant to say I am clutching my DFH beads.

  12. 12
    Dinah says:

    I read a blog comment recently–it was in regard to the NYT op-ed–that writers were selected who could contribute to the bottom line through syndication. The comment went on to say that small, right-wing publishers comprised the syndication market. If this is true, it explains a lot.

  13. 13
    jake says:

    The GOPer stages of grief:

    1. Denial.
    2. Mockery.
    3. Denial.
    4. Stick fingers in and shout LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOU!
    5. More mockery.
    6. Sulk.
    7. Blame the other guy for not being nice.
    8. Find something else to attack.

  14. 14

    Oh, and I so appreciate the little biology lesson about how polar bears are not cuddly stuffed animals, but seal-killing hunters with big, nasty, scary claws. Paging Stephen Colbert!

    I really thought they just romped around in the snow with penguins, drank Cokes and smiled a lot.

  15. 15
    Tsulagi says:

    Got it? Environmental activists are to blame for not working enough with the people who oppose them, denounce them, mock them, work openly to sabotage their efforts

    Exactly. They need to get into bipartisan and unity think. Realize there’s no time for battles when there’s powder somewhere that needs drying.

  16. 16
    Paul L. says:

    and have created a cottage industry creating and spreading pseudo-scientific babble.

    As opposed to disproving the “hockey stick graph” and getting NASA to revise US Temperature Numbers downward?

    Or this bit of open science

    We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider.

  17. 17
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    They sometimes express a deep distrust for capitalism

    For shame.

    I stopped believing in capitalism when I realized the people who preached it didn’t believe in it, so why should I? Chrysler gets into trouble because it makes bad cars, so they go to the government for a bailout. Airlines get in trouble because they can’t stop people from hijacking their planes, head to the government. Over and over again.

    Capitalism is a myth.

  18. 18
    Richardson says:

    Seriously, if you subscribe to the Washington Post, please, stop. Go and cancel your subscription. (For local stuff you can still read the paper on-line.)

    The Post emerged as the Washington Times lite, and under Fred Haitt and the new ownership group, the paper has basically been ruined. If I wanted to read non-stop Bush apologies and career war criminals rant I’ll subscribe to Newsmax.

  19. 19
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    And fuck him for not giving Gore the respect he is due.

    Heh. I looked at the quote again. Gerson talks about the attitude on talk radio where standards are “not high”, then in the next sentence echoes their sentiments with his “Gore is angry and partisan” crack.

    And anyone who thinks Al Gore is not relevant to the climate change issue is objectively stupid.

  20. 20
    Heshe says:

    Environmental activists = eco-terrorists.

    These environmental nuts would would have us all live in grass huts and eating homemade granola and plain steamed whole grain rice if they had their way. They would have the internal combustion engine banned and anyone who once owned an engine bigger than a 60’s era Volkswagon Bug engine would be put in reeducation camps and be made to grow all their own camp food. They would also see to it that electricity is banned. If they were in charge western civilization would shrivel and die, because they hate us for our freedoms.

  21. 21
    xephyr says:

    Congrats to the GOP and their unwitting minions for all the work they’ve done in the effort to politicize science. Their efforts to create a world in which reality is trumped by ideology should not go unrecognized.

  22. 22
    calipygian says:

    These environmental nuts would would have us all live in grass huts and eating homemade granola and plain steamed whole grain rice if they had their way. They would have the internal combustion engine banned and anyone who once owned an engine bigger than a 60’s era Volkswagon Bug engine would be put in reeducation camps and be made to grow all their own camp food. They would also see to it that electricity is banned. If they were in charge western civilization would shrivel and die, because they hate us for our freedoms.

    The New Yorker cover episode has made me very uncertain when it comes to identifying satire.

  23. 23
    Helmut says:

    Oh, Gerson’s point is an old, hackneyed one. And it’s a double-edged sword. Mark Dowie, in his 1995 book, Losing Ground, had already brought up the issue. Nordhaus and Shellenberger followed up on it. The basic idea was that many (though, of course, hardly all) earlier environmentalists had spent too much time using the language of crisis and too little time exploring policy solutions.

    Dowie noted that a third wave of environmentalism in the early 90s was entering the policy organizations and shifting to policy-speak, which has basically always been dominated by economics. One problem was that some environmental values don’t translate into orthodox economic valuation (i.e., how many environmentalists conceptualize intrinsic value). So, one concern was that some important environmental considerations and values were inherently excluded from the developing environmental policy language.

    On the other hand, culturally, the more outrageous environmentalists continue to get quite a bit of play in the media and from their political opponents. They’re an easy target. As usual, when one picks on the easy target, that’s a good sign that one doesn’t understand the genuine issues, the philosophical and policy debates, or what’s at stake.

  24. 24
    mark says:

    War is Peace.
    Freedom is Slavery.
    Ignorance is Strength.
    Conservation is Pillage.

  25. 25
    D. Mason says:

    Most Republican environmental efforts are quickly pronounced “too little, too late.”

    Republican environmental effort? Whussat? Oh yeah, like the Orwellian Clear Skies Act.

  26. 26
    demkat620 says:

    This is the standard wingnut position on anything that is a tax cut or blowing shit up:

    If you dirty fucking hippies would just shut the fuck up, we could get back to ignoring this issue in peace.

  27. 27
    John Cole says:

    This is OT, but anyone who says there is no difference between organic and non-organic foods is an idiot. I can taste a difference.

    I had cage-free eggs this morning, and the shells were thick and healthy, like they were on the farms where I lived as a kid, and not like the paper mache shells you get with standard industry eggs. The yolk was rich and creamy, the whites cooked to a fluffy consistency. The difference between the eggs I ate this morning and normal eggs is night and day.

    Ditto that for milk and the locally grown beef. Anyone who says there is no difference is lying, stupid, or has no taste buds.

  28. 28
    John Cole says:

    And Kashi waffles are pretty god damned good for a frozen food.

  29. 29
    rachel says:

    John, eggs you ate this morning are the normal eggs.

  30. 30
    El Cid says:

    It may be just me, but non-organic milk seems to go bad more quickly than the organic. Maybe the organic stuff is all ultra-pasteurized, I dunno. I know I can use organic whole milk instead of non-organic half and half for coffee. (I keep trying various non-dairy creamers, but though I can withstand them if I choose to, no real luck on taste yet.)

  31. 31
    ThymeZone says:

    Nothing tastes as good as cage free eggs, unless it’s gen-u-wine freerange eggs laid by the happy fowl running around loose on a big piece of ground somewhere.

    Those factory eggs they sell at the supermarket are not fit for cooking and baking, much less frying up and eating.

    If the good eggs cost twice as much, eat half as many of them, one really good egg is worth a whole bunch of cheapass eggs.

  32. 32
    Martin says:

    Ditto that for milk and the locally grown beef

    Being an environmentalist, I only eat organic polar bear. Since they are all gonna die anyway, might as well save a few cows.

    And no mention of Maliki wanting the terrorists to win?

  33. 33
    Andrew says:

    The locally produced eggs I get at the farmer’s market are delicious compared to the conventional store bought eggs. They are about twice as expensive though. From a pure dollars standpoint, this is more than balanced out by the cheaper tomatoes, squash, peppers, and such that I also get at the market.

    And they all taste so much better. Mmmmm… garlic, peppers, tomatoes and eggs scramble.

  34. 34
    Onah Oldberg says:

    They would have the internal combustion engine banned and anyone who once owned an engine bigger than a 60’s era Volkswagon Bug engine would be put in reeducation camps and be made to grow all their own camp food.

    Remember, the Nazis liked organic food!!!!!

  35. 35
    Marshall says:

    I canceled my Wash Post subscription when they started instituting drug tests, and I haven’t read it at all since their 2003 warapalooza. Can’t say I miss much.

  36. 36
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    I canceled my Wash Post subscription when they started instituting drug tests, and I haven’t read it at all since their 2003 warapalooza.

    Good thing they did those drug tests. Can’t have reporters going around writing absurd stories, such as “the sociopathic intellectual zero in the White House says Iraq’s secular leadership is aligned with the religious fanatics of al-Qaeda, and I believe him!”

  37. 37
    Marshall says:

    By the way, Polar Bears are no joke. I had a Government project that involved a telescope in Spitsbergen, North of Norway and the closest inhabited place to the North Pole. The bears are prevalent there and I had people telling me of going out to the trash, turning around, and there was a 600 pound bear between them and their front door.

    They give people 45 caliber revolvers for such cases, but you are not supposed to shoot the bears except in an emergency.

  38. 38
    gil mann says:

    Those factory eggs they sell at the supermarket are not fit for cooking and baking

    I went the family-farm route for humane reasons, but it really is astounding, the difference. I never even liked eggs until I stopped supporting Big Agra.

    El Cid’s right– organic milk lasts weeks longer. And there’s not much of a price difference these days (I assume that’s fuel cost, but it’s not that recent a development) so I don’t know why anybody’s still buying the national brands. I’m thinking meat and eggs will follow suit soon and there’ll be no reason for the Wal-Farms to exist.

    I’ll miss being so insufferably smug, but it’ll be better overall.

  39. 39
    Incertus says:

    The locally produced eggs I get at the farmer’s market are delicious compared to the conventional store bought eggs. They are about twice as expensive though.

    That’s the thing, though–lots of our food is too cheap. We ought to be paying more, getting better quality, and eating less of it. We’d be healthier as a nation if we did.

  40. 40
    Heshe says:

    I had cage-free eggs this morning, and the shells were thick and healthy, like they were on the farms where I lived as a kid, and not like the paper mache shells you get with standard industry eggs. The yolk was rich and creamy, the whites cooked to a fluffy consistency. The difference between the eggs I ate this morning and normal eggs is night and day.

    John:

    As someone who keeps a few chickens for the delicious they make, I can tell you this: Chickens needs lots of calcium for their eggs. I have to keep a container of crushed oyster shells or ground up old eggshells for them so they have enough for healthy thick-shelled eggs. My guess is the thin shelled eggs you speak of come from factory farms where they feed their chicks only enough calcium so the eggs don’t crack when they’re laid. If you’ve seen pictures of factory egg farms, you might not want to support such animal cruelty as that, or eat the unhealthy food that comes from them.

    If you want really good eggs, get your own chickens. Best to learn now than when the system goes completely to hell.

  41. 41
    dan robinson says:

    It is easy to know when Michael Gerson is lying.

    If he is breathing, he is lying.

  42. 42
    gil mann says:

    lots of our food is too cheap. We ought to be paying more, getting better quality, and eating less of it. We’d be healthier as a nation if we did

    If I didn’t live in a poor neighborhood, I would disagree with you, and probably make a hack “elitist” joke. I don’t like it when people try to make me quit smoking by jacking up cigarette taxes, but I honestly can’t see how you get these kids off the path to Type 2 Diabetes without making fruits and vegetables competitive with meat and crappy snacks born of corn subsidies.

  43. 43
    Martin says:

    El Cid’s right—organic milk lasts weeks longer. And there’s not much of a price difference these days (I assume that’s fuel cost, but it’s not that recent a development)

    Actually, the federal government sets minimum prices for milk (yes, minimum) and requires revenue pooling. It’s a law that was designed to help lower milk prices in communities far from dairies by forcing people that live closer to dairies pay more as a subsidy. It’s a throwback to the days when malnutrition in children was a fairly widespread problem.

    At it happens, the transportation costs were a bigger problem decades ago because while they weren’t necessarily much lower (adjusted for inflation), trucks were smaller, handling was less refined, and economies of scale with corporate farms didn’t really exist. Today I expect that transportation costs are *more* of a problem than they were 5 years ago, but still less than 30 years ago.

    On a related note, there are further advances in milk transport. The new containers store 4.5 gallons of milk per cubic foot compared to 3 gallons with the existing containers and they can be stacked without crates so there is much less handling and each truck can carry 50% more.

  44. 44
    Jay says:

    You may have been over this already, John, but Gerson used to work for Carter (and I know you’re no Carter fan; nor am I). That ought to explain the extent of Gerson’s stupidity.

  45. 45
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    Polar Bears are no joke.

    The only animal known to hunt humans. Threat #1!

  46. 46
    frogspawn says:

    Martin,

    Being an environmentalist, I only eat organic polar bear.

    Whatever you do, don’t eat the liver.

  47. 47
    gil mann says:

    Sure, Martin, that all makes perfect sense if you just assume that actual knowledge trumps blind conjecture.

    I say let both our viewpoints be heard and people can decide for themselves.

  48. 48
    El Cid says:

    Hadn’t heard this elsewhere, but a fairly interesting technological development.

    Nanoelectrodes boost electrolysis to cut hydrogen fuel cost

    By R. Colin Johnson | Courtesy of EE Times | 07/14/2008 0:00 AM

    PORTLAND, Ore. — QuantumSphere Inc. will report Tuesday (July 15) at Semicon West in San Francisco that its nanoparticle-coated electrodes can make hydrogen an economical alternative to natural gas and gasoline.

    By increasing the surface area of conventional electrodes by more than 1,000 times, the company claims that electrolysis could soon be the least-expensive way to produce hydrogen for industrial and consumer applications. In addition, electrolysis creates no greenhouse gases, whereas making a pound of hydrogen from natural gas produces 4 pounds of greenhouse gases…

    …Eventually, QuantumSphere wants consumers to be able to recharge fuel cells for their car in the garage. The company also claims to be able to lower the cost of the fuel cells themselves by using nanoparticle-coated steel electrodes in place of today’s expensive platinum electrodes. However, until fuel-cell-powered cars are available, the company plans to concentrate on near-term applications that retrofit existing applications with nanoparticle-coated electrodes…

    …QuantumSphere claims that at 85 percent efficiency, its nanoparticle-coated electrodes will increase hydrogen gas output in electrolysis systems by 300 percent…

    Okay, it’s a press release, basically, but still…

  49. 49

    The only animal known to hunt humans. Threat #1!

    Michael Chertoff has a gut feeling that al-Qaeda is recruiting Polar Bears. Look for a Terrorism Alert at all zoos along with FBI revelations about al-Qaeda Hibernation Cells to break during Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention.

  50. 50
    Punchy says:

    This is OT, but anyone who says there is no difference between organic and non-organic foods is an idiot. I can taste a difference.

    There’s a difference, indeed. In price.

  51. 51
    Martin says:

    I say let both our viewpoints be heard and people can decide for themselves.

    You’re just like Fox News!

  52. 52
    w vincentz says:

    I haven’t tried polar bear yet, but the moose steaks and burgers a friend gave me are excellent.
    Free range eggs are very nice, especially if the hens are roaming where they can pick off some insects. You’ll notice that the yolks are deep orange, not the pale yellow like factory farm eggs.
    Other organic meats that might be of interest: venison, cottontail rabbit, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and squirrel.

  53. 53
    Incertus says:

    If I didn’t live in a poor neighborhood, I would disagree with you, and probably make a hack “elitist” joke. I don’t like it when people try to make me quit smoking by jacking up cigarette taxes, but I honestly can’t see how you get these kids off the path to Type 2 Diabetes without making fruits and vegetables competitive with meat and crappy snacks born of corn subsidies.

    I’ve lived in my share of them, and I’ve eaten more than my share of that crappy food in my time, which is why I’m willing to take the hit for saying it.

  54. 54
    Elvis Elvisberg says:

    Karl Rove, Michael Gerson, along with the Krauthammers and Kristols of the world, just can’t get enough exposure.

    It’s the same thing as Paris Hilton. Infamy is the same thing as fame, as far as the infotainment industry is concerned. They just can’t throw enough money and exposure at these failures.

  55. 55
    Quackers says:

    xephyr Says:

    Congrats to the GOP and their unwitting minions for all the work they’ve done in the effort to politicize science. Their efforts to create a world in which reality is trumped by ideology should not go unrecognized.

    This guy seems to be onto what they’re doing.

    Propaganda
    Rush to Judgment
    Attacking environmentalists as hippie-dip “wackos” who care more about spotted owls than people and use polar bears for propaganda, Rush Limbaugh has blinded millions of Americans to the climate crisis.
    by James Wolcott May 2007

  56. 56
    Rick Taylor says:

    It’s always left wing liberals ruining everything. The moderate Republicans were just dying to compromise and get us out of Iraq (but responsibly, without undue haste). Why if it weren’t for Move On’s add making fun of General Petraeus’s name, the war surely would have been over by now.

  57. 57

    […] What John Cole said… See this dissecting the entirely dispensible Michael Gerson bewailing the fate of the polar bear within a warming world– but better not while you’re eating. […]

  58. 58
    Calouste says:

    organic milk lasts weeks longer.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing, and it doesn’t seem to be suggested by the best before dates, which were 7 days for organic and 15 days for non-organic last time I looked. Milk in Europe only last 3 days after opening though. Since I moved to the US from Europe I had to switch to soy milk because the milk here makes me fart like anything. Same for dairy products, I only buy stuff imported from Europe.

    lots of our food is too cheap

    No, calories are cheap. Trans fats, palm oil, high fructose corn syrup, geneticaly modified corn products, hormone heavy “beef”.

    Food, you know stuff with actual nutritional value, like fresh fruit and vegetables, isn’t cheap at all.

  59. 59

    I can’t believe someone has the nerve to throw off on Carter on this environmentalism thread.

  60. 60
    The Moar You Know says:

    They give people 45 caliber revolvers for such cases, but you are not supposed to shoot the bears except in an emergency.

    The reason has nothing to do with saving an endangered species, but rather the unlucky human: even though the 45 LC is a huge bullet with wonderful democracy-spreading qualities, it is not nearly enough to stop a polar bear in its tracks; about the only thing that will is a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with one-ounce slugs.

    Best to avoid confrontation with bears, period.

  61. 61

    I can’t believe someone has the nerve to throw off on Carter on this environmentalism thread. Well, ain’t it too bad that we’re having a real malaise now and perhaps if we’d listened to him back then and had the nuts to accept a little hardship or even tolerate minor inconvenience for the good of the planet, then we wouldn’t be in the fuckhole we’re in now. We wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.

  62. 62
    Jason says:

    I am inclined to agree. The WaPo editorial and op-ed pages have gone downhill. Why? They have taken the position, common in the corporate media of recent years, that being objective means splitting the difference between the two opposing viewpoints. However when one viewpoint, regardless of what you may think of their policy prescriptions is basing them on the facts and the other’s policy prescription is basing them on an ideology that denies the facts and includes a distinct profit motive to deny said facts, then the objective view is not to split the difference and assume both sides might be equally correct. If one viewpoint is truly mainstream, and the other is completely out in right (or left) field on the so-called lunatic fringe as is the GOP position on climate change and carbon emissions then you can’t just split the difference and call yourself objective.

  63. 63

    […] It’s not clear how many of them are former officials with the administration. John Cole reviews Michael Gerson’s latest Washington Post op-ed: […]

  64. 64
    west coast says:

    Someone reads the WaPo editorial pages for anything other than a laugh?

    It isn’t The Onion, but it’s close.

  65. 65
    AnneLaurie says:

    I read a blog comment recently—it was in regard to the NYT op-ed—that writers were selected who could contribute to the bottom line through syndication. The comment went on to say that small, right-wing publishers comprised the syndication market. If this is true, it explains a lot.

    A million little Murdochs! Yes, that would certainly explain some part of the prevailing op-ed bias towards raving wingnuttery. In general, the guys who own the small-town / suburban-region weeklies which basically exist to circulate supermarket ads and the local school lunch menu are not famous for their commitment to honest enquiry.

  66. 66
    Jay says:

    Harlana,

    I happen to think Carter was right about the environment back then; it’s just that he lost me with some other things he said and did (like writing that Salman Rushdie “knew what he was doing” when “The Satanic Verses” caused all that mess).

  67. 67
    Digital Amish says:

    When I was a young man I would occasionally read the columns of Kristol, Thomas, Will and such and feel that alot of what they were writing was going over my head. ‘These must be some smart people’ I would think. Come to find out it was just that I was so preoccupied with other things (getting laid, scoring weed, etc.) that I never took the time to realize that they are all monumentally stupid fucks.

  68. 68
    Martin says:

    The WaPo editorial and op-ed pages have gone downhill.

    Downhill from where? These were the war cheerleaders 6 years ago and the left was screaming at them then. They haven’t gotten worse – they’re as bad as they always were.

    Like Kristol at the Times, the papers are delivering what their audience wants – facts to the left and affirmation of the faith to the right through the op-eds. If you are outraged at the op-eds, it’s because they weren’t written for you. Read the reporting instead, which the right rails about because it upsets the fictional narrative in their heads.

  69. 69
    TenguPhule says:

    Speaking of our Disgraceful media…

    The Bush admin sends a man who will not negotiate, but somehow it’s Iran’s fault that ‘talks fizzled’.

    Teh stupid, it burns.

  70. 70
    KevinD says:

    Oh, and I so appreciate the little biology lesson about how polar bears are not cuddly stuffed animals, but seal-killing hunters with big, nasty, scary claws. Paging Stephen Colbert!

    I’ve seen this line of reasoning before from climate-denial wingnuts. The statement basically was “Well, climate change ain’t that bad because Polar Bears kill baby seals”.
    This is what they’re resorting to.

  71. 71
    Martin says:

    “We’re fucked”

    Awesome! Nice to see morale is up.

  72. 72
    gil mann says:

    Milk in Europe only last 3 days after opening though.

    What? And you’re saying that’s preferable? That’s not a beverage, that’s a race against time.

  73. 73
    KC says:

    I started buying what’s on sale at the store and ignoring organic because I heard that a lot of the stuff marked with a big “O” is not really that organic. Something to do with a change made in the labeling law a few years ago, is what I’ve been told. Anyone smarter and less lazy than me know anything about this?

  74. 74
    gil mann says:

    KC, I’m not sure if it was a change in the law so much as a realization that there was an exploitable loophole, but yeah, that’s basically true. I’ve heard Horizon’s claims are full of shit, which confirms my belief in an inverse relationship between slickness of packaging and trustworthiness. And “Peace Cereal” just sounds like some suit with a marketing degree trying to blow smoke up my ass.

    There are websites devoted to this stuff– certifiedhumane.com’s a good one, but I’m only in this for animal welfare issues, so it might not be up your alley.

    Screw it, just buy all your groceries from Newman’s Own. They make everything now. I’m pretty sure they sell organic radial tires.

  75. 75
    AnneLaurie says:

    For balance, I should mention that the WaPo still pays Dan Froomkin to blog “White House Watch”, which is definitely *not* right-wing:

    White House Watch

    Not as defiantly progressive as some of us DFHs, but he exposes a lot of non-blog-literates to left-of-far-right news that they wouldn’t otherwise hear about. And Froomkin’s been targeted by the Wingnut Welfare Wurlitzer in the past, so every click on his link makes Rush Limbaugh cry.

  76. 76
    Brachiator says:

    Some Republicans and conservatives are prone to an ideologically motivated skepticism. On AM talk radio, where scientific standards are not particularly high, the attitude seems to be: “If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.” Gore’s partisan, conspiratorial anger is annoying, yet not particularly relevant to the science of this issue.

    This points, however, to a broader problem.

    It’s amazing how Gerson runs away from the logic of his own argument. In an earlier thread, I noted that the current issue of Skeptic magazine, which can also be ordered online, has a great series of article debating global warming.

    Conservatives still dismiss global warming, misunderstand the science just as deeply as they misunderstand evolution, and fight off any attempts at bipartisanship even to the point of disavowing moderate Republicans who are sympathetic to the issue of global warming. The problem ain’t the environmentalists in this regard.

    For example, it turns out the publisher of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer, was interviewed on one of the most popular LA area radio stations, one which leans mostly to the right. The host was respectful of Shermer’s view, a moderate conclusion that global warming was real but that we should be judicious in deciding how best to deal with it, and that it is not a slam dunk that the world will end if we don’t go carbon free.

    However, in the next segment, the host pretty much acted as though Shermer had never been there, ignored his summary of the issues, and seemed to be working from a set of talking points which said that global warming was a fraud. The callers ate this up. I had to turn off the radio because there was no longer even a hint of rational discussion.

    John Cole Says:

    This is OT, but anyone who says there is no difference between organic and non-organic foods is an idiot. I can taste a difference.

    First of all, this is a matter of largely meaningless labeling. I mean, after all, both “organic” and “non-organic” eggs come from chickens.

    I can see that cage-free eggs might taste better than other kinds. But it does not follow that these eggs are significantly superior with respect to nutrition. What you are left with, then, is how much of a price premium you place on taste.

    El Cid Says:

    Hadn’t heard this elsewhere, but a fairly interesting technological development

    Hydrogen fuel costs is just one of the many challenges related to the viability of hydrogen as a potential alternative fuel source. You might want to take a look at the relevant article in the magazine I referenced above.

  77. 77
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    Anyone smarter and less lazy than me know anything about this?

    Fast Food Nation is a good book about this topic, and others. “Organic” doesn’t always mean what we think it means. It depends not only on the ingredient itself but how it’s processed, etc. On the plus side, some products that aren’t “organic” actually are.

  78. 78
    Hejhog says:

    Hopefully, someday Big Green will be able to bribe congress in order to get corporate welfare and the like that Big Oil currently enjoys. Then there will be change for the better. Dare to dream.

  79. 79
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    “We’re fucked”

    Now THAT’S straight talk!

  80. 80
    Ed Marshall says:

    it’s just that he lost me with some other things he said and did (like writing that Salman Rushdie “knew what he was doing” when “The Satanic Verses” caused all that mess).

    That wasn’t what he said. I know you weren’t trying for verbatim, but Jimmy Carter wasn’t really slagging on Rushdie. He was slagging on the western reaction for lionizing Rushdie as a martyr for free speech. That’s not to say he *isn’t*, but it’s about context.

    If the Muslim world made Mapplethorpe a hero over “Piss Christ” it means something totally freaking different than if I stick up for him.

  81. 81
    LA Confidential Pantload says:

    John,

    Are you interested in Community Supported Agriculture? Here in Pennsylvania that’s the cheapest way to get organic stuff.

  82. 82
    LiberalTarian says:

    These environmental nuts would would have us all live in grass huts and eating homemade granola and plain steamed whole grain rice if they had their way.

    Wow, you’d think the religious right would love them then, cuz they want to knock us back to the stone age, too.

    Re organic foods: conventional farming, i.e. using tons of pesticides and fertilizers, tends to produce foods from depleted soils. Organic crops can’t be raised using the ginormous monoculture model, because it draws too many insects. The plants they grow have to be hardier, they have to use organic amendments that increase the carbon content of the soil, and they have to grow a more diverse set of crops that allow for more biodiversity. Organic is not only better tasting (i.e. it has flavor), but it is much better for the environment. It does cost more, but you get more nutrition so you don’t need to eat as much.

    Definitely, if you can afford it, go organic. If you can’t afford it, learn how to grow your own garden produce. It isn’t free, but you do save money, and you know where your food has been . My folks had 3 acres of garden in Montana every year–short growing season, but if you do it right, even a 12-week growing season can produce lots of food.

    And no, John, this is not an invitation to take your seeds and head over to Montana. Grow something in your back yard. Hell, quit spraying your lawn and eat the dandelions and burdock–they are good for you.

  83. 83
    Andrew says:

    I can see that cage-free eggs might taste better than other kinds. But it does not follow that these eggs are significantly superior with respect to nutrition. What you are left with, then, is how much of a price premium you place on taste.

    This isn’t true at all, of course. In addition to avoiding the hormones and antibiotics that factory farmed birds receive, free range chickens on a natural grass and bugs diet have eghs more vitamins, lower fat, and more omega-3s than factory birds.

  84. 84
    jrg says:

    “If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.” Gore’s partisan, conspiratorial anger is annoying, yet not particularly relevant to the science of this issue.

    What the fuck is this moron talking about? Can this guy cite one single example of a prominent environmentalist basing the totality of their argument against a dislike for members of the right wing?

    I’ve heard lots of gibberish from conservatives regarding Al Gore’s electric bill, can he cite a single example of a prominent environmentalist basing their argument on Bush’s or Rove’s electric bill?

    Nothing this complex and expensive gets done on a party-line vote.

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Voters are concerned about global warming – it’s reach the point where no rational person can deny it any longer. Even the GOP’s agrarian base is catching on, because they make a living off the land and the weather. Unless Republicans start facing the reality of GW and stop basing the totality of their argument on Al Gore, this issue will eat them alive.

    Keep it up, Gerson. One of these days “bipartisan” will refer to an agreement between the Blue Dogs and the DLC.

  85. 85
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    eat the dandelions and burdock—they are good for you.

    Dandelions were imported to this country for use as food, I hear.

  86. 86
    rachel says:

    Be careful not to eat too many dandelions; their one of their old English folk names was pissabed–guess why.

  87. 87
    Brachiator says:

    LiberalTarian Says:

    Definitely, if you can afford it, go organic. If you can’t afford it, learn how to grow your own garden produce. It isn’t free, but you do save money, and you know where your food has been .

    But I wouldn’t save money, nor would most people. The dollar value of my time would be wasted on the self-production of food. Even with increases in food and fuel prices, the average city dweller can buy far more food, and a greater variety of food, than if he or she tried to become a citizen farmer. Knowing where my food has been is totally irrelevant to me.

    Andrew Says:

    I can see that cage-free eggs might taste better than other kinds. But it does not follow that these eggs are significantly superior with respect to nutrition. What you are left with, then, is how much of a price premium you place on taste.

    This isn’t true at all, of course.

    Yeah, it is.

    In addition to avoiding the hormones and antibiotics that factory farmed birds receive, free range chickens on a natural grass and bugs diet have eghs more vitamins, lower fat, and more omega-3s than factory birds.

    No one has shown that free range chickens or other stuff that you want to label as “organic” has significantly more nutrients than other food stuffs. No one has shown that people who eat free range chickens have better health outcomes (longevity, better health, less need of medical care, or any other indicator that you can create) than other folks.

    A fun aside, most people I know here in Southern California who swear by “organic” foods also gobble down pounds of vitamins and health “supplements.” What’s up with that?

    I subscribe to a number of skeptic and science oriented podcasts. There is a certain core of people who sent notes to praise these podcasts when they debunk creationism and other crap beliefs of conservatives, but who oddly whine like little babies when these same podcasts skewer alternative medicine and health food nonsense.

    The authors of the best of these sites look at as much of the available literature as they can, and the bottom line is that there is little real science that validates the current claims of the organic food crowd. To the contrary, the organic food crowd deploy a tactic that you used to see in the National Inquirer: they reference supposed studies in obscure European journals that either do not exist or do not actually support the claims made.

  88. 88
    Jay says:

    Ed,

    I don’t think Carter’s op-ed makes him look good at all. I think those Muslims oppressed by the anti free speech fundies (and Carter, to be sure, is right to mention the oppressed) know that all religions forgive those that lampoon religion, or at least discourage violence; heck, many of ’em probably wanted to read the book

    That is to say: it is not Rushdie and “the west” but the non-fundies’ own leaders, that make them suffer. Cripe, the reason I am so opposed to a war against Iran is because it would surely alienate what is left of that 18-34 year old Iranian crowd that loves the west and can only be reached through soft power.

    So yeah, Rushdie knew people’d take offense, but I don’t think he knew it’d reach far enough to have a Berkeley bookseller blown up.

  89. 89
    TenguPhule says:

    Definitely, if you can afford it, go organic.

    That’s the Catch 22. Republican Economic Policies make it difficult if not impossible for many people to do so.

    You can starve well or eat mass produced crap.

  90. 90
    Heshe says:

    El Cid Says:

    It may be just me, but non-organic milk seems to go bad more quickly than the organic.

    A lot of milk is now produced by injecting cows with a growth hormone which greatly increases production/profits. But it has a negative side effect of causing more udder infections and some of those sick cows milk gets into the supply. So, along with the conventional milk you might also be drinking a little pus too. I kid you not. Go ahead…have another glass.

  91. 91
    El Cid says:

    As I suggested earlier, the durability of organic milk may be more due to its processing:

    NBC4

    Q: I noticed the expiration date on organic milk is usually a month long. I wants to know, what makes organic milk last so long?

    A: We went to Organic Valley for your answer, and it says the expiration date on ANY type of milk depends upon how it was pasteurized. Organic milk AS WELL as conventional milk, can be pasteurized using Ultra High Temperature or High Temperature Short Time.

    If milk was processed using High Temperature Short Time that means it was heated to 161-point-5 degrees for 15 seconds which destroys 99-point-9 percent of bacteria. HTST is the federal standard for milk processors. Ultra High Temperature pasteurization involves superheating and cooling milk at extreme speeds, and extends the product’s shelf life from 17 to 45 days. So Emily, you probably have Ultra High Temperature processed milk.

    Note that this is an organic milk producer, and it is not claiming any particular durability result from the organic nature of the milk itself.

    So I get better taste and shelf-life, and with the amount of milk I use, I find a perfectly justifiable price premium and an effective use of my resources.

    Brachiator: Yes, I’m well aware that there are many complexities with regard to the use of hydrogen in a large economy. Also, stylistically, may I point out that you are not the only one who is aware of skeptical perspectives (magazines & podcasts), and please try not to sound so superior about it, as nothing about your claims to be aware of skeptical approaches strengthens any particular point you make, and almost makes it sound worse for the ‘skeptics’ perspective than if you simply directly argued it — that is, as long as you stop apparently assuming that only you possess this secret knowledge.

  92. 92
    gravie says:

    I switched to cage-free eggs after a seeing one of the chicken prisons in Alabama where agri-business eggs are produced. Each chicken in a dark little 2×2 wire cell, stacked 5 or 6 high. The stench is stomach-turning, even when you’re just blowing by on the highway.

    The better-quality eggs are more expensive, of course– but with 12 eggs to a carton, and consumption of 3-4 eggs a week, I figure it costs me maybe 20-30 cents more per week in grocery money. YMMV if you eat more eggs.

  93. 93
    Brachiator says:

    El Cid Says:

    Brachiator: Yes, I’m well aware that there are many complexities with regard to the use of hydrogen in a large economy. Also, stylistically, may I point out that you are not the only one who is aware of skeptical perspectives (magazines & podcasts), and please try not to sound so superior about it, as nothing about your claims to be aware of skeptical approaches strengthens any particular point you make, and almost makes it sound worse for the ‘skeptics’ perspective than if you simply directly argued it—that is, as long as you stop apparently assuming that only you possess this secret knowledge.

    You mis-read me here. Earlier in this thread I posted a link to the Skeptic mag site with the issue on global warming, so I obviously could not be arguing that I have some secret knowledge unavailable to others. In fact, I posted the link in another thread, in part because I thought it might be of interest to others, and also because even though I live in a big ass city, one big local news stand which carried Skeptic mag closed down, and another brand name book and news store stopped carrying the magazine.

    I didn’t post some links to sites specifically dealing with the supposed superiority of “organic” foods simply because I was having some browser (or site) problems.

    Also, it is not that a “skeptical approach” is superior, it is that a number of skeptic sites (Quackcast, Skeptoid, Skeptics Guide to the Universe) regularly deal with the question of unsupported claims about alternative medicine, health food, creationism, psychic phenomena and provide links and references to the best non-bullshit literature on the topic.

    And the bottom line here is that clearly a lot of “organic” food tastes better than alternatives. But claims that this food is significantly more nutritious are just not supported by available science. Worse, some health food advocates, who are otherwise admirable people, take the unfortunate stance that scientific proof is irrelevant or depend on glowing anecdotes or old debunked studies.

    Heshe Says:

    So, along with the conventional milk you might also be drinking a little pus too. I kid you not. Go ahead…have another glass.

    Pus? Really? Could this recent discussion on the snopes.com message board about “Pus in cow’s milk” be what you are referring to? (couldn’t get the link thingy to work correctly here)

    The big issues that these people are claiming seems to be the “somatic cell” (which they are equating with “pus”) content of milk, which comes from “infected udders” of cows that have been given antibiotics or hormones to aid in milk production.

    Call me crazy, but aren’t somatic cells simply a sort of body cell that (duh) would be naturally occuring in any sort of lactation? Just because there’s a somatic cell component, doesn’t mean it’s the yellow/white liquid that’s associated with blisters and/or wounds, right?…

    The somatic cell count (SCC) is commonly used as a measure of milk quality. Somatic cells are simply animal body cells present at low levels in normal milk. High levels of these cells in milk indicate abnormal, reduced-quality milk that is caused by an intramammary bacterial infection (mastitis).

    The majority of the cells in a somatic cell count are leukocytes (white blood cells), and some are cells from the udder secretory tissue (epithelial cells). The epithelial cells are part of the normal body function and are shed and renewed in normal body processes. The white blood cells serve as a defense mechanism to fight disease (infection), and assist in repairing damaged tissue.

    Milk markets routinely rely on somatic cell counts to help ensure a quality product. SCC levels are monitored to assure compliance with state and federal milk quality standards. Today, most markets pay a premium for low SCC, good-quality milk.

  94. 94
    Eli Rabett says:

    As a matter of fact, Exxon Corporation provided a substantial grant to a scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory who wrote a peer reviewed article about how all was fine with the polar bears. The acknowledgement of support is wonderful

    This scientific research was supported by generous grants from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, American Petroleum Institute, and Exxon-Mobil Corporation. The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and are independent of sources providing support.

    Koch is another large oil magnate, and oh yes, I have several bridges up for auction at Ebay

  95. 95
    Heshe says:

    Pus? Really? Could this recent discussion on the snopes.com message board about “Pus in cow’s milk” be what you are referring to?

    This is not new. I’ve been aware of this for 10 years. The idea of drinking pus ladened milk is disgusting, but it’s likely that pasteurization breaks down the pus into something more a little digestible. Ready for another glass of fresh milk?

    This is what you get when farming becomes industrialized, like it now is. The means of production are not designed for making healthy food for people or minimizing brutal animal practices, but for maximizing profits. Not all of agriculture is this way, but much of it is.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    Heshe Says:

    Pus? Really? Could this recent discussion on the snopes.com message board about “Pus in cow’s milk” be what you are referring to?

    This is not new. I’ve been aware of this for 10 years. The idea of drinking pus ladened milk is disgusting, but it’s likely that pasteurization breaks down the pus into something more a little digestible. Ready for another glass of fresh milk?

    There is no issue with pus in cow’s milk. How could you be “aware” of something for 10 years which is not true? But there could be somatic cells in milk even if the milk were coming from your own personal cow which you treated with loving kindness and meticulously care with respect to health, cleanliness and safety.

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