Toxic Sludge is Good For You

SCOTUS ruling:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Clean Water Act does not prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from allowing mining waste to be dumped into rivers, streams and other waters.

In a 6-to-3 decision that drew fierce criticism from environmentalists, the court said the Corps of Engineers had the authority to grant Coeur Alaska Inc., a gold mining company, permission to dump the waste known as slurry into Lower Slate Lake, north of Juneau.

“We conclude that the corps was the appropriate agency to issue the permit and that the permit is lawful,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

The corps permit, issued in 2005, said that 4.5 million tons of waste from the Kensington mine could be dumped into the lake even though it would obliterate life in its waters. The corps found that disposing of it there was less environmentally damaging than other options.

I don’t know about the specific case enough to really discuss this, and I can’t verify if the author of this piece took some rhetorical license when stating it will “obliterate” all life in the water. Likewise, I don’t know what kind of life there was in the water, but since it is Alaska I am presuming it was somewhat pristine.

But here is the question, and one of the things I have never really understood. I don’t know why, so often these issues (and I’m not necessarily talking about the ruling, which seems to me to not be about the issue itself, but who has the right to make the decision), there is a clear left v. right split. Obviously I understand the business interests at play, but what I don’t understand is that surely there have to be some on the right who say to themselves “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” That would seem to me to be the “conservative” position.

I truly do not understand this, and you see it played out in West Virginia a lot with mountaintop removal and other mining issues when tons of, well, shit, is just dumped in creeks and rivers. Why is this an ideological issue? Why is it that anyone who says “killing all the wildlife in this lake might be a bad idea” becomes a de facto granola eating DFH? Why is it not considered conservative to say “this could cost us a lot in the long run, not just monetarily, but in terms of other measures.” Surely there have to be people in agribusiness and property rights advocates who oppose this sort of thing, and they can’t be considered “teh left.” I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could. Clearly there is a need for balance.

I understand why it is now- ideological lines are rigid, and anything members of “teh left” oppose members of “teh right” support, and vice versa. If Obama and the Democrats came out in favor of puppy kisses and free ice cream, the NRO would have a hundred op-ed pieces declaring puppy kisses to be the vanguard of the incipient liberal fascism. But how did it get this way? Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?” Does anyone have a book that might explain things? Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?






176 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ says:

    If Obama and the Democrats came out in favor of puppy kisses and free ice cream, the NRO would have a hundred op-ed pieces declaring puppy kisses to be the vanguard of the incipient liberal fascism.

    They actually have made fun of his puppy and his children eating ice cream.

  2. 2
    numbskull says:

    Why? Because your former compadres are first, middle, and last total assholes. They can’t help themselves.

    This has been another installment of SATSQ. Thanks for playing.

    PS: As to “I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could. ”

    Well, that pretty much tells me that you still are a little brainwashed.

  3. 3
    cleek says:

    it is strange, especially given that the EPA was formed and really got down to business under a Republican president.

    but it looks like that branch of conservatism has been smothered by the business-first branch.

  4. 4
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    The business side of modern conservatism is dominated by MBAs whose sole focus is the the corporate bottom line next quarter.

    Modern conservatives seem incapable of “taking the long view,” which is another reason Obama drives them barking mad.

  5. 5
    Ron E. says:

    Yes it is a religious issue: the Right worships business. Anything business wants to do is by definition moral, just, and appropriate and should be allowed and that includes polluting.

  6. 6

    Breyer voted with the majority so it makes me wonder what point of law this case turned on. Is Breyer not as eco friendly as the minority? I guess this raises a lot of questions in my mind.

  7. 7
    Scott says:

    One of the weird political oddities out there is that Democrats generally cede outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, farmers, and ranchers to the GOP — “Well, they’re rural and generally like guns, so we’ll never get them.”

    They’ve all got very strong interests in environmentalism — except they often call it “conservationism.” Ask a fisherman if he sides with the megacorps or the hippie environmentalists when it comes to dumping toxic shit into his favorite fishing hole. Ask a hunter how he feels about unspoiled nature. Ask a farmer how much effort he goes into to make sure his soil and water will last another few decades.

    Democrats should be dropping off news articles about this ruling at every feed store, bait shop, gun store, and outdoor supply store in the country.

  8. 8
    CaseyL says:

    Republicanism is about three things: money, power, and being against anything Democrats are for.

    Perhaps, once upon a time, there was more to the GOP than that.

    But there’s certainly nothing more to the GOP than that now.

    Letting slurry flow into a previously pristine lake richly satisfies all three appetites: a company that contributes to GOP politicians gets to do increase its profit margins by cheaply disposing of waste; the company gets to do what it wants just because it wants to; and the GOP gets to be against environmental stewardship because Democrats are for environmental stewardship.

    A trifecta for the GOP, really.

  9. 9

    I don’t understand it, either. It’s a DEATH TRIP, you know, like stuffing your infant child’s mouth full of ashes. Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not kill”?

    Let them ruin a lake if they can build another one just like it, with all the fishes, raccoons, weasels, otters, birds, and insects, hah. If Alaskans had any real balls, they’d go full-Basij on the bastards.

  10. 10
    El Cruzado says:

    Nah, from the point of view of the Republican big honchos, it’s just about doing whatever will make the most money, NOW, to those that pay their bills.

    Pissing off liberals is an added bonus.

  11. 11
    Punchy says:

    Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?”

    Because the neo-conservative viewpoint nowadays is focused on one thing, and one thing only–making money, and lots of it. Lake-dumping is most certainly the cheapest option. Ergo, the company “makes” more money. Shareholders (read: Republicans) make more $$. Apply this principle to climate change legislation, coal-plant regulations, fish-catching limits, etc.

    Conservatives at this point are 100% into “I’m getting what’s mine, NOW, fuck tomorrow”. And that’s why they dont give a shit that in 10 years, this lake will be a cesspool of deadness. They’ll be too busy trying to fold their wallet stuffed with 42 C-notes to notice.

  12. 12
    Little Dreamer says:

    Lots of beautiful lakes in Alaska, losing one isn’t going to kill anybody*

    *(I personally include fish among living beings whereas conservatives only consider them dinner. If they want to throw some food away what business is it of yours?).

    John, does it surprise you that Republicans do (and have been known for a long time by many of us to do) these sorts of things? I always wonder.

  13. 13
    zmulls says:

    “Taking the long view” is akin to “introspection” — it’s not what real Americans do. Americans get it done, they don’t waste time “contemplating.”

    The basis of modern conservatism is the power of the group over the individual. The conservatives on the court will always side with the club against the member, the government against the individual, the business against the consumer. They’re company men, members, joiners, belongers; not individuals.

    Alito in particular is a country club Republican who is aghast that after toadying his way into belonging, others who are beneath him might be let in.

  14. 14
    NonyNony says:

    Not too hard to figure out – the Republican coalition is made up of a few overlapping segments at this point: big business interests, fundamentalist Christians, and ridiculously whiny assholes who are incredibly insecure in their manhood.

    The business interests hate anything that smacks of precedent for the government telling them what to do, so they fight it out of principle even when it’s ridiculously short-sighted of them to do so (which is a principle of modern American corporatism – if something is good long term but potentially bad short term fight like tooth and nail to prevent it because short term negatives are much worse than long term positives when your stock options are on the line).

    The particular stripe of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity that Republicans attract believes in “Dominion” over the Earth. Meaning that if God didn’t want us to mess up the Earth he wouldn’t have made it so easy to mess up. Or he’d do something about it. And the Rapture is coming and Jesus is going to hit the big reset button anyway so we shouldn’t worry about not messing things up because in the end it doesn’t matter and if you worry about the long term you aren’t a Real True Christian(tm). (This is currently causing problems in among evangelicals, some of whom don’t like living in a polluted shithole and are beginning to think that it may be worthwhile to have a nice planet for Jesus to come back to when he shows up again. You can tell these folks because they talk a lot about “stewardship” and are willing to vote for Democrats occasionally).

    As far as the ridiculously whiny assholes – well they’re the ones who see what “liberals” think is important and then immediate take the opposing stance no matter how stupid it is for them to do so because they’re assholes. Unfortunately a number of these ridiculous assholes seem to have been elected to Congress on the Republican ticket and also seem to be currently in control of the direction of the GOP. I think if the business interests had their druthers they’d find ways to compromise with Democrats (and they do, which is why the GOP is losing ground with business interests) but the asshole contingent just doesn’t believe in compromise – after all that’s something that Democrats do so they have to hate it.

  15. 15
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @numbskull:

    PS: As to “I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could. ”
    Well, that pretty much tells me that you still are a little brainwashed.

    Why do you say that? He’s right. There are extremist whackjobs at the far left of the environmental movement, and denying that is silly and dishonest.

    As to John’s question, I think Ivan has it right: we are dealing with people who are utterly incapable of taking the long view on any matter whatsoever. Short-term profit is king and you’re a dirty anti-capitalist tree-hugging spotted-owl-worshipping patchouli-stinking commie if you suggest differently. Who cares if your kids and grandkids inherit a fetid cesspool of a planet? Money, bitches!

  16. 16
    SGEW says:

    Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?” Does anyone have a book that might explain things? Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?

    This has been vexing me for years and years and years. Big business interests, the deeply poisonous American cowboy ideology, and religious faith seem to me to be the central culprits, but I have yet to hear a well formulated explication.

    Well, let me give it a quick shot:

    Humans are, generally speaking, stupid creatures who do bad things and shit where they eat. The “left” are people who are aware of reality and stuff, and don’t want to be stupid fucking monkeys that kill and rape and enslave and torture each other while destroying our own planet. In contrast, the “right” are perfectly, gleefully happy being evil little selfish apes who get to act all bad ass while some cartoon wizard in the sky with the face of Ronald Reagan and the voice of Charlton Heston tells them that it’s all good and simple and God’s plan and don’t worry your fugly l’il heads over any of this.

    There.

  17. 17

    Does anyone have a book that might explain things?

    I believe Jonah Goldberg wrote the definitive tome you are looking for.

  18. 18
    Zifnab says:

    Obviously I understand the business interests at play, but what I don’t understand is that surely there have to be some on the right who say to themselves “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” That would seem to me to be the “conservative” position.

    Not my problem, John. I’ve got a house on the nice side of town. My toxic sludge is being dumped on the other side of the tracks. So long as it’s NIMBY, you can test high yield nuclear weapons in the Grand Canyon and fill the crater with pig shit.

    Republicans only care about the environment they plan to be visiting. And when I’m vacationing in Maui and Monaco, why do I give a rat’s ass about the shit stain I left behind in Appalachia.

  19. 19
    whatsleft says:

    Because humans are far more important than animals, particularly non-mammals. And because you can’t PROVE that this will cause problems. And because there will be technology to deal with any problems, not that there would be problems, but if there possibly were. And because it’s way up there where it won’t interfere with our daily lives, so it’s really not even happening, I mean really who cares? And shut up, that’s why. Also.

  20. 20
    Evinfuilt says:

    More proof that the Army Corp of Engineers is still the Environments #1 threat, I don’t think they even know how to do anything good.

  21. 21
    Rick Taylor says:

    Why is it that anyone who says “killing all the wildlife in this lake might be a bad idea” becomes a de facto granola eating DFH? Why is it not considered conservative to say “this could cost us a lot in the long run, not just monetarily, but in terms of other measures.”

    Beats the heck out of me, but conservatives haven’t been conservative in this sense for years. Starting an unprovoked war in Iraq to spread democracy across the middle east wasn’t conservative. Deregulating financial markets so that banks could play with risky poorly understood financial instruments of great complexity was definitely not conservative.

  22. 22
    Joshua Norton says:

    When global warming and such were first being discussed, repiggies would go into high C shrieking about how costly everything would be and how taxes would be raised. The usual talking points. Then when their greed was becoming indefensible, they gave it a christianist spin by quoting that man was given dominion over the earth and the animals.

    It’s just about money. Period. The future Super Fund sites they’re creating will be cleaned up by the government sometime down the road.

  23. 23
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    Also, what Scott said.

  24. 24
    Little Dreamer says:

    “Taking the long view” is akin to “introspection”—it’s not what real Americans do. Americans get it done, they don’t waste time “contemplating.”

    I once hired, trained and managed an employee with the “Git-R-Done” logo on the back window of her vehicle (quite large too).

    She was the worst employee I ever had, and I actually had to go through some serious arguments with my superiors to get rid of her, despite her poor productivity, high rate of complains and excuses. I’ll never forget that nightmare.

  25. 25
    Comrade Stuck says:

    The corps found that disposing of it there was less environmentally damaging than other options.

    I also don’t about the specifics of this case, but each case of cleaning up abandoned mine lands presents unique challenges. Usually these cases of toxic mine spoils create numerous non-source point discharges which are difficult to contain surface runoff from polluting nearby streams, as well as contaminating the ground water.

    I’m not defending the courts decision, because I don’t know the specifics, but the starting point to protecting the surrounding environment is to contain the discharge points, which a lake would theoretically do. It would allow for any possible treatments to be applied before being discharged off the site, IE for strip mining, PH buffering, and sediment settling. Either way there is going to be toxic seepage into the groundwater systems.

    Just some thoughts, about dealing with very difficult reclamation situations.

  26. 26
    John Cole says:

    @Scott: Agreed. Dick Cheney earned his manly creds as a “hunter,” Bush had a “ranch,” McCain has a “ranch,” the Wasilla wingnut is all about being one with nature, and Gov. Sanford is, at this moment, allegedly hiking the Appalachian trail. And yet every single fucking one of them would vote to pave over the woods I hiked in this morning, or to dump coal slurry in the small pond I walked by, or to dump DDT on the wild blackberries I picked this morning.

    BTW- I got about 2 quarts of them this morning. They are really out in force. I had nothing to put them in but a poop bag, so I walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries.

  27. 27
    Michael Sheridan says:

    There’s a religious influence at play as well. Too many members of what remains of “movement conservatism” have a “Jesus is coming next week to remake the world, so who cares what we do to it in the meantime” mindset. So – power, money, millenialist arrogance, and pissing off the Dems.

    Have to agree with Scott up above, too – this and other radical anti-conservationist decisions by the so-called “conservative” SCOTUS should be a huge argument every election cycle with the sort of people who call themselves “sportsmen.”

  28. 28
    guster says:

    It’s religious. God told Adam that he ruled the earth, or whatever–that everything here is for his use. I don’t know my scripture, because I’m a big atheist Jew, but I’m pretty sure that this stuff, at least as long as we’re talking environment, is the toxic overlap of ‘God say we should exploit the environment–are you saying God’s wrong?’ on the part of the religious right and ‘Fuck the next decade, my job depends on this quarter’s earnings’ on the part of the corporate right.

    And ‘poke a stick in the eye of the lefties’ on the part of the erectile dysfunction right.

  29. 29
    Jon H says:

    According to Wikipedia, the most common gold mining process involves cyanide and leaves really nasty leftover waste.

    It’s probably a good bet that the lake will be dead.

  30. 30
    Legalize says:

    The only “ideology” that enters into this for wingers is “does this piss off LIEbruls?” If so, then they’re cool with it.

  31. 31
    guster says:

    It’s religious. God told Adam that he ruled the earth, or whatever–that everything here is for his use. I don’t know my scripture, because I’m a big atheist Jew, but I’m pretty sure that this stuff, at least as long as we’re talking environment, is the toxic overlap of ‘God say we should exploit the environment–are you saying God’s wrong?’ on the part of the religious right and ‘Fuck the next decade, my job depends on this quarter’s earnings’ on the part of the corporate right.

    And ‘poke a stick in the eye of the lefties’ on the part of the erectile dysfunction right.

  32. 32
    Stabetha says:

    John, what use is thinking about a little runoff in a lake in Alaska when the rapture is about to happen? (See also: Bush, George W. and 2003 Invasion of Iraq)

  33. 33
    Zifnab says:

    @tripletee (formerly tBone):

    Why do you say that? He’s right. There are extremist whackjobs at the far left of the environmental movement, and denying that is silly and dishonest.

    You’re comparing a dozen radical environmentalists out sabotaging whaling vessels or tying themselves up to oak trees against million-man, multi-billion dollar industries.

    “Hey, look, a crazy leftist! Conservatives don’t look so crazy now!” is a FAUX News style argument. There is a massive middle ground in the environmental debate. But every step in the environmental direction costs the resident industrial business money up front. And as America has already sealed it’s pledge to socialize the loss and privatize the gain, we’ve made a firm commitment to designating environmental disasters a non-business problem.

  34. 34
    Nindid says:

    I certainly fall into the hunter/fisher/conservationist model of Democrats and I am constantly amazed at the religious opposition to environmental issues.

    At some point in the great con job the corporate Republicans perpetrated on the Religious Right the religious types became convinced that the book of Genesis required them to oppose any and all environmental measures.

    Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    I can’t tell you how many people have told me with a straight face that this passage meant that God hates environmentalists and that people can do whatever they want with the land – including dumping 4.5 million pounds of toxic waste.

    What is more is that even if you point out the fallacy in the argument – God apparently wanted people to take care of the land and toxic sludge does not exactly count as “replenish the earth” – they simply fall back on the idea that Jesus will show up before the earth is destroyed anyway so long-term effects don’t matter.

    This argument has been put out by enough people in the same way that it simply has to be an established interpretation in the fundamentalist circles and may help explain why at least two of the main parts of the Republican coalition support toxic waste.

  35. 35
    SGEW says:

    I walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries

    Someone, somewhere, must write a banjo song based upon this lyric.

  36. 36
    Anoniminous says:

    @Scott:

    Good idea!

    Never going to happen, of course.

    I’m beginning to think the ideological split in the country is not between Conservative/Liberal but Corporatist/Populist with both groups being found in both parties. The Corporatist are the usual suspects: the GOP leadership, CATO, DLC, & etc. The Populists run from the Progressive Caucus to Huckabee.

    The defining characteristic is their position on whether corporations have extra-economic responsibilities to society. Stating it baldly, the Corporatists maintain they don’t; Populists think they do. Within both groups are factions grouped around nuances of the basic position.

  37. 37
    Little Dreamer says:

    but what I don’t understand is that surely there have to be some on the right who say to themselves “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” That would seem to me to be the “conservative” position.

    Conservatives do not think about toxic dump site clean-up – they do their dirty work, wipe their hands and walk away, never looking back, never caring about what they’ve done, and not having a conscience about how they just polluted the environment at all.

    The only way a toxic dump site gets on a list is if a DFH comes along and finds it, or health concerns creep up in a nearby community. Conservatives don’t mean to clean that mess up at all.

    Do a search of the EPA’s toxic dump site list, it’s huge, and little has been done to clean up many of them.

  38. 38
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    Cleek and Ivan nailed it real early – humans are real good at dealing with crisis situations, and piss poor at dealing with “frog boiling” situations. Therefore, anything that doesn’t have an immediate result gets ignored – combine that with the last 20 years of business innovations, pushing the profit cycle earlier and earlier that you need to see an insanely high RoI, and yer fucked.

    Now in this case specifically, it may turn on the “least damaging of all options.”

  39. 39
    Ash says:

    The only consequences conservatives have ever cared about are:

    1) How much money they can make, and
    2) PROFIT!

  40. 40
    BruceK says:

    PS: As to “I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could. ”
    Well, that pretty much tells me that you still are a little brainwashed.

    Why do you say that? He’s right. There are extremist whackjobs at the far left of the environmental movement, and denying that is silly and dishonest.

    Here’s the thing, though: yes, there are whack-a-doodles on the outer fringes of the environmentalist movement (spikers, animal-rights guerilla groups, and the like). Now, the mainstream left generally calls them out as loonies.

    Their counterparts circling the wingnut event horizon, however, seem to get embraced for their devotion to the One True Orthodoxy, and we’re seeing that those with the temerity to call out the right-wing whackjobs are themselves in danger of getting purged for ideological impurity. If Reagan were alive and in possession of his faculties, he’d probably be saying “my god, what have I done?” And the current crop of wingnuts would probably dismiss him with “what do you expect from a one-time Hollywood union boss who used to be a Democrat?”

    (Full disclosure: when I heard about Reagan’s passing, the only way I was able to follow my parents’ dictum not to speak ill of the dead was by biting my tongue until I remembered that Alzheimer’s is an unpleasant way to go. His mind may have been half gone, but from his record, he wasn’t a full-blown psychotic like some of the folks we’re seeing now…)

  41. 41
    Scott says:

    I walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries

    Someone, somewhere, must write a banjo song based upon this lyric.

    I subscribe to the Mojo Nixon school of songwriting:

    I walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries,
    Walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries,
    Walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries,
    BERRIES, MOTHERFUCKER!

    Repeat until drunk.

  42. 42
    ironranger says:

    Yesterday my husband answered a call at work from a Newt Gingrich minion. The caller said he knows many business owners are not happy with Obama’s policies and asked if he would listen to a short message from Gingrich. Spouse said he wasn’t interested & hung up.
    The business (a small car dealership) where spouse works is in a wee little town in NE Minn. I would love to know what group is making these calls, how many calls are being made & who is paying for them.

  43. 43
    JL says:

    @John Cole: When Bush and Cheney hunt or fish, they do it on private property. We really don’t know where Sanford was. If he actually hiked on public property, he should have signed in with the rangers.

  44. 44
    Atlliberal says:

    This make me furious. I don’t understand how companies can keep getting away with ruining our air and water, make us pay for it, and all because it’s more cost effective for them.

    It would be much more cost effective for me to take all of my trash (and recyclables) and toss it all into my neigbors’ yards or along the highway. I wouldn’t have to pay a company to pick it all up and dispose of it appropriately. I would face heavy fines and my neigbors would hate me, but it would still be cheaper for me.

    I think these companies should be FORCED to pay to clean up their own messes. If it’s not cost effective then…”let the market handle it”. Maybe we don’t need that much more gold or coal. Maybe they will figure out a way to do it that isn’t quite so damaging to everyone else. “conservatives” are all about “letting the market decide” until it costs them a dime in profits, then they go to court to get their mess paid for by the taxpayers.

  45. 45
    Scott says:

    Good idea!

    Never going to happen, of course.

    Well, we used to say that about the 50-State Strategy…

  46. 46
    Steeplejack says:

    This is the “tragedy of the commons” at work: “a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen.”

    The classic example is from Garrett Hardin’s 1968 article in Science, here described by Wikipedia: “Central to Hardin’s article is a metaphor of herders sharing a common parcel of land (the commons), on which they are all entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin’s view, it is in each herder’s interest to put as many cows as possible onto the land, even if the commons are damaged as a result. The herder receives all of the benefits from the additional cows, while the damage to the commons is shared by the entire group. If all herders make this individually rational decision, however, the commons are destroyed and all herders suffer.”

    Currently, American business (and its [mostly but not solely Republican] apologists) willfully takes an extremely narrow view of “costs” and “responsibilities,” preferring to externalize them outside of the corporate entity. In fact, you will often see the argument made that corporations are by their nature required to take this extremely narrow view–that “maximizing shareholder return” is the only proper concern of the corporation. So if the best (cheapest) thing for this mining corporation to do is dump tons of crap in a lake, then, well, “Hey, you can’t blame us, we’re just maximizing shareholder return.” And they deliberately turn a blind eye to any “external” damage that might incidentally be done–such as “obliterating all life” in the lake. Oops, too bad, but not our problem.

    Maybe a hundred years ago you could get away with that, because if you seriously damaged one place you could just move somewhere else and start over. (And the level of technology was sufficiently lower that it was probably much harder to catastrophically damage a place.) But now there are too many people everywhere to ignore such problems. And technological advances and capitalism-as-religion have combined to make it possible to really fuck up a place. Economies of scale, etc.

    Traditionally, the solution to this problem would be some sort of government oversight and review. But we know how that has worked out. Government is always the problem, and the market will regulate itself with its invisible hand. ‘Nuff said about that.

    A thought experiment: What if the lake that is about to be killed were in the exurbs of, say, Chicago, rather than in the middle of nowhere, Alaska? Would the Supreme Court have ruled differently? Would more people be outraged? I don’t know about the former, but the latter is definitely true.

  47. 47
    Davis X. Machina says:

    There are extremist whackjobs at the far left of the environmental movement, and denying that is silly and dishonest.

    It’s equally silly and dishonest to equate the amount of damage PETA, or Earth First! or you name it can do when compared to Freeport-McMoRan, or BP, or Peabody Coal can do.

    Some differences of degree are large enough to become differences of nature.

  48. 48
    John PM says:

    I just read Breyer’s concurrence, and these two paragraphs stood out for me:

    I recognize the danger that JUSTICE GINSBURG warns against, namely, that “[w]hole categories of regulated industries” might “gain immunity from a variety of pollution-control standards,” if, say, a §404-permit applicant simply adds “sufficient solid matter” to a pollutant “to raise the bottom of a water body,” therebyturning a “pollutant” governed by §306 into “fill” governed by §404. Post, at 7 (dissenting opinion).

    Yet there are safeguards against that occurring. For one thing, as the Court recognizes, see ante, at 11, it is not the case that any material that has the “‘effect of . . . [c]hanging the bottom elevation’” of the body of water is automatically subject to §404, not §402. The EPA has never suggested that it would interpret the regulations so as to turn §404 into a loophole, permitting evasion of a“performance standard” simply because a polluter dis-charges enough pollutant to raise the bottom elevation ofthe body of water. For another thing, even where a matter is determined reasonably to be “fill” and consequently falls within §404, the EPA can retain an important role in thepermitting process. That is because the EPA may vetoany §404 plan that it finds has an “unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas . . . , wildlife, or recreational areas.” §1344(c). Finally, EPA’s decision not to apply §306, but toallow permitting to proceed under §404, must be a reason-able decision; and court review will help assure that is so. 5 U. S. C. §706.

    Bold is mine. Yes, it is inconceivable to think that the EPA under George Bush (or under another Republican Administration) would interpret regulations to provide for loopholes from environmental regulation. Granted, from reading the various opinions this appears to be a complex case involving the interpretation of numerous statutes and administrative regulations. However, Breyer’s naivete with regard to what the Bush Administration EPA would not do is startling. His voting with the minority would not have changed the outcome, but his voting with the majority gives the pro-business wing of the USSC some cover.

    Also, I completely agree with the other commentors who have noted that segments of the Religious Right are big supporters of polluting the environment because the Rapture and Jesus’ second coming will take care of everything. These people have done more harm to the Bible than the Muslims they fear so much ever could. I am convinced that should the Rapture actually occur, these so-called Christians will be the ones who remain on earth; however, given their ability to disregard reality, they will not realize that they have become the biggest supporters of the Anti-Christ. If you think their support of torture is bad now, think about how it would be under that scenario.

  49. 49
    Nylund says:

    ” And to add a little more ‘kick’ to your moose burger, dump 4.5 million tons of toxic waste into their water supply.”

  50. 50
    Nim, ham hock of liberty says:

    Internalize the revenue. Externalize the costs.

    The GOP believes that what’s good for the corporation is good for us. Even though we all will be bearing the externalized costs, in the form of destruction of the water and whatever’s living in it, and any cleanup that we later decide is necessary.

    BUT as long as the lake isn’t in our personal backyard, we all receive a benefit from the company’s benefit. They earn more, so they employ more, pay more payroll taxes, do more business, etc etc

    I suppose a detailed enough cost/benefit analysis might reveal whether the indirect benefit to all of us, from the benefit to the polluter, in fact outweighs the direct cost to all of us. Maybe it does! But I seriously doubt it.

  51. 51
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @Zifnab:

    You’re comparing a dozen radical environmentalists out sabotaging whaling vessels or tying themselves up to oak trees against million-man, multi-billion dollar industries.

    I’m certainly not making the argument that fringe enviro-whackos have the influence of slurry-dumping Big Business, and I’m pretty sure John wasn’t either. I just think acknowledging that they’re out there up front helps disarm the inevitable “teh lefties have crazy tree-marrying loons!” talking point.

    @Nindid:

    I certainly fall into the hunter/fisher/conservationist model of Democrats and I am constantly amazed at the religious opposition to environmental issues.

    To be fair, there are churches and denominations that make it a point to stress proper stewardship of our natural resources . . . just not enough of them.

  52. 52
    Steeplejack says:

    @Steeplejack:

    P.S. One thing that really kills me is the surreal schizophrenic vision that the corporate moguls must go through on an almost daily basis. “Okay, then, we’re all set on the plans to dump all that toxic sludge into Lake Figby. Okay, I’m out of here. I’ll be at the ranch in Wyoming this weekend if you need me. Love that fresh air and fly fishing!”

  53. 53
    Comrade Dread says:

    Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?

    Not that I’m aware of.

    But there’s a lot of ‘conservative’ paths out there which are ridiculed and mocked by today’s Republican party. (e.g. genuine efforts to diplomatically resolve conflicts; rationally assessing domestic risks and having respect for the Constitution, tradition, and the institutions of the American legal system; etc.)

    Which is why the term ‘conservative’ is becoming rather useless as a valid descriptor of political beliefs. Same with liberal.

    And yeah, even as a libertarian, I’d have to say that letting some corporation dump 4.5 million gallons of toxic sludge into a clean fresh water lake sounds like a really, really bad idea.

    If you can’t afford to house and dispose of your waste properly and not pass off your negative externalities to innocent parties, you don’t deserve to be in business.

  54. 54
    jenniebee says:

    I heard a piece on NPR a few years ago, a DFH was reporting on a friendly conversation he’d had in a bar with a Capitalist. They talked about whales, and the capitalist acknowledged that whaling would exterminate the species and kill its own industry off in the process and asked the DFH what he would suggest.

    And the DFH said that you could still have a whaling industry, but what he would do would be to scale back the industry to healthy levels that the population of whales could support so that the business could go on forever and never kill itself off.

    And the capitalist listened to him politely and then said “no, that’s not what you do. You make as much money whaling as you possibly can, while it lasts, and then when it isn’t profitable anymore, you take that money and invest it in something else.”

    Why the jesuscritters support this nonsense, I have no idea. But that’s why the divide. If you think that society ought to be ordered around maximizing short term profits and giving free rein to any and all use of private economic power, up to and including putting no restriction on tycoons selling guns to Hitler in ’38 while you’re taxing the country to pay for a military buildup to send Joe Citizen overseas to get shot by those same guns, then you might be a capitalist.

    If you think that maybe Joe Citizen ought to be able to vote to live in a society where the primary concern is not to pave the way for people with money to make more money because your money is all that money, but that he ought to be able to have a government that is concerned with making sure that his air is clean and his water is potable and his kids get a good education and his neighbors aren’t getting rich engraving Joe’s name on a bullet and selling it to whoever wants to crush Yurp this week, well, the technical name for that is “socialism.”

  55. 55
    The next-to-last samurai says:

    This kind of idiocy, or, more to the point, people who insisted on defending this kind of idiocy, is why I left conservatism. I left a few years before John did so reading this site has been deja vu all over again.

  56. 56
    gnomedad says:

    @Scott:

    One of the weird political oddities out there is that Democrats generally cede outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, farmers, and ranchers to the GOP —“Well, they’re rural and generally like guns, so we’ll never get them.”
    They’ve all got very strong interests in environmentalism—except they often call it “conservationism.”

    I agree, and I feel the same way about “free markets”. Pollution is theft, goddammit, and taxing polluters or forcing them to clean up after themselves is not “restraining” the market, it’s making it work.

  57. 57
    mcd410x says:

    I get into trouble all the time trying to point out that the root of the word “conservative” is “conserve.”

    We’ve twisted words to the point where they mean the opposite of what they should mean, used to mean and did mean. Huzzah.

    “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” — That, my friends, is spelled G-D-P.

  58. 58
    Anoniminous says:

    My copy of Jared Diamond’s book Why Societies Collapse is packed away in a box so I can’t pull actual numbers.

    The first chapter of the book looks at Montana and the affects and effects of hard rock mining, among other things. What struck me is the cost of cleaning-up – using public monies, BTW – was roughly equivalent to the market value of the extracted metals.

    Which leads to a bit of a conundrum:

    Obviously we can’t do without metals.

    Just as obviously, the “true” cost of metal extraction, and ignoring the processing and environment costs of turning the ores into usable products, is more-or-less double the market price.

    I don’t have an answer or even the glimmer of a way to get an answer. As I wrote, “a bit of a conundrum.”

  59. 59
    Comrade Stuck says:

    Granted, from reading the various opinions this appears to be a complex case involving the interpretation of numerous statutes and administrative regulations.

    This is the problem of regulating mining other than for coal. The 1978 federal strip mine act spells out clear (for most part) what can and can’t be done handling toxic mine spoils. For other types like gold mining, there is a hodgepodge of rules and regs from state and federal agencies, often murky and full of loopholes. The 78 SMRCA had a provision in it to eventually include other types of mining, but it has never been opted for.

    As for the reasons for wingnuts being opposed to protecting the environment. Ideological contrarianism and money money money.

  60. 60
    Ed Drone says:

    What shall it profit a man land that it gain the whole world but lose its own soul?

    Someone important said that, I think.

    Ed

  61. 61
    Poopyman says:

    It is always – always– about the money.

    Monied interests want to do something that is going to have bad consequences? They pour money into the campaigns of congresscritters and preznits who will make the decisions. The Corps of Engineers works for the Preznit, in the long run.

  62. 62
    Little Dreamer says:

    @John PM:

    Great post! One minor quibble:

    These people have done more harm to the Bible and the world than the Muslims they fear so much ever could.

    however, given their ability to disregard reality, they will not realize that they have become the biggest supporters of the Anti-Christ.

    Proof positive that what I’ve been saying all along is true, these Christians support Lucifer (and the bible shows this, for those with an open mind to see it).

  63. 63
    Craig says:

    I can’t verify if the author of this piece took some rhetorical license when stating it will “obliterate” all life in the water.

    The story as I understand it is that this would in fact kill all of the fish in the lake, which Coeur fully admits, but that their plan involves restocking the lake after the 10 year dumping period. Take that for whatever it’s worth (a company promising to restock a lake 10 years down the line doesn’t seem like it’d be worth much.)

  64. 64
    jTh says:

    Potential profit is the only metric by which value of any course or decision may be determined. All other metrics are false, and all other values are unacceptable impediments to the only true value: the potential for profit.

    Remember, “what’s good for me is good.”

  65. 65
    Tim H. says:

    Why did a whole lot of bankers make a fortune selling worthless derivatives? Because even after crashing the economy they’re still wealthy. At this point only DFHs look more than one year ahead.

  66. 66
    LD50 says:

    Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?”

    Republicans approve of this sort of thing because (a) certain companies they feel fondly for will make/save a lot of money, (b) it doesn’t affect them directly & c) it pisses off ‘libs’.

    That is well and truly as far as Republicans think this through.

  67. 67
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Craig: And this gets us back to the MBA sociopathy that is modern American business (and conservatism by extension): Next quarter’s earnings are gonna look great!

    Ten years from now it will be someone else’s problem.

    Short term gain (for some), long term pain (for most); that’s always the end result of movement conservative policies.

  68. 68
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    Perhaps liberals should begin publicly advocating for the right of businesses to pollute as much as they like, wherever they like.

    It’s the only way we’re ever going to get the “conservatives” to stand up for the environment.

  69. 69
    Anoniminous says:

    @Scott:

    OK, I’ll accept that.

    “Never going to happen until there is a sufficient change in the way the Democratic Party conducts public debate.”

  70. 70
    MikeJ says:

    The story as I understand it is that this would in fact kill all of the fish in the lake, which Coeur fully admits, but that their plan involves restocking the lake after the 10 year dumping period.

    In year nine everybody’s salary is quintupled, each share of stock gets a massive dividend. Year nine and eleven months, the company is bankrupt. Year ten and one month, a bunch of people are sitting around saying, “hey, we’ve got experience with mining, and a bunch of capital, let’s start a mining company!”

  71. 71
    linda says:

    Surely there have to be people in agribusiness and property rights advocates who oppose this sort of thing,

    they don’t live nor vacation near these sites. out of sight, out of mind.

    one of the most obscene sights i have ever witnessed is mountain-top mining — or perhaps i should say, what’s left behind.

  72. 72
    Scott de B. says:

    Just to weigh in on the legal aspects of this case:

    First, yes, the dumping will kill everything in the lake.

    Second, the reason the Clean Water Act doesn’t apply is that the lake doesn’t empty into the watershed. The actual legal issues are convoluted, but in essence if you’re dumping into an isolated lake there are much fewer restrictions since the stuff won’t get into the general water supply. You still need a permit, and of course under the Bush administration it was pretty easy to get.

  73. 73
    Luke says:

    This isn’t difficult.
    We need to produce things to maintain our standard of living, and if the raw materials can’t be grown, they’ve got to be mined. Both agriculture and mining produce by-products that have to be dealt with in a responcible manner. (I’ll take a moment to note that the only evidence that this is not what is happening, is in the obvious hyperbole originally cited.)

    The fundamental divide here is not between left and right, but between rural and urban. People in rural areas largely depend on exploiting natural resources for their livelyhood. People in urban areas largely have an idealized and unrealistic view of what nature, and the rural lifestyle are like.

    The Democratic party is an urban party. That’s where its base is, and where the majority of the votes are. In the ’90s, the Democratic party aggressively centralized, demanding that state parties toe the line drawn by the national party. This caused many state parties to effectively commit suicide. For example, in Idaho the Democratic party is explicitly hostile to 5 of our 6 major industries. There’s a reason that Republicans have supermajorities in both houses of our state congress, and all important state offices. (We do have one national Democratic officeholder, Walt Minnick. Former CEO of Boise-Cascade, who publicly told the state party exactly where they could stick those particular planks.)
    Of course, this causes a cycle where the Democratic party get progressively more urban, and makes progressively stronger demands on the state parties, which further erodes their support in rural areas, which makes the Democratic party more urban… And this loop has been feeding on itself for over twelve election cycles now. In some regions, a third party becoming successful is more likely than the Democrats becoming viable again.

  74. 74
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    Why is this an ideological issue?

    Have you forgetten that The Good Book promises the natural world to mankind, to use for any purpose that they wish? We have dominion over the ecosystem; why worry about it?

    teh

    Twice in two paragraphs? Really, John? Tunch, scratch him for me.

  75. 75
    BenA says:

    @Scott:
    I was thinking about the conservative people I know who are “conservationists” and I mentioned to my mother that it was ironically the only place where conservatives really do conserve. That being said… the difference between someone who identifies himself as a “conservationist” (take your average Rod & Gun club member/Field & Stream subscriber) and someone who identifies himself as an “environmentalist” in my mind is that the conservationist is only interested in HIS fishing hole, HIS forest, and HIS fields. He could give a rats ass about some lake in Alaska, a mountain top in West Virginia, or even what goes on downs stream from his favorite fishing hole. It’s very much part of the “I got mine” philosophy of the GOP and Conservative Libertarianism. An environmentalist seems to have a much broader view of the issue.

  76. 76
    slag says:

    I remember asking my Republican parents this very question as a teenager. Their usual response was that Teddy Roosevelt was an environmentalist and Nixon created the EPA so it’s the conservatives who were supposedly the “true” environmentalists and liberals just wanted to freak out about spotted owls and somesuch. Of course, if I asked said parents what conservatives had done for the environment lately they would just say that “conserve” is a large part of the word “conservative”. It was really nonsensical, which in my mind, translated to having something to do with the ’60s, so I left it at that.

    The reality is that I do think liberal environmentalism has, in some respects, been shortsighted in the past and that conservatives used its weaknesses as an excuse to dismiss the entire issue and give into their self-indulgent tendencies, disregarding the costs.

    Kind of in the same way liberals might sometimes disregard sexual abstinence as having been a failure for conservatives and therefore not see it as a worthy goal. The key difference being that one issue–environmentalism–is a public one that affects all of us, while the other–sexuality–is a private matter. Of course, conservatives (for reasons that defy reason) seem to think it’s the other way around.

  77. 77
    ds says:

    Conservatism isn’t a coherent or consistent ideology for producing good governance. It’s a knee jerk impulse to side with powerful interests over everyone else.

    Unless they happen to live in close proximity to the river, a conservative does not give a shit how much toxic sludge is dumped in it. The only way you could even get one to pay attention to the issue is if the Army Corps were hiring women or minorities to do the dumping. Then they’d get out the protest signs, but only to make sure the jobs go to “real Americans.”

  78. 78
    Jim Pharo says:

    What you do not “get” is that our friends on the right are simply venal. They aren’t misguided, or ignorant, or mistaken, or over-zealous. They know perfectly well that what they are doing is wrong, and proceed any way because it pays their bills.

    It’s not more complex than that. Simple, really.

  79. 79
    jenniebee says:

    @Anoniminous:

    I don’t have an answer or even the glimmer of a way to get an answer. As I wrote, “a bit of a conundrum.”

    Henry Ford had an answer. Congress was holding hearings about a century ago about water pollution and called Ford to testify. Ford said there was a simple way to stop industrial water pollution. You didn’t have to figure out ppms or tonnage or anything else, a business would always be able to figure out a way around all of that. He said, just require all businesses and communities to measure the amount of water they take out of a river, and then require them to put that much water back into the river upstream of where it was removed.

    Businesses in this country never have to sleep in the beds they shit. That’s the problem.

  80. 80
    David Hunt says:

    @Stabetha:

    John, what use is thinking about a little runoff in a lake in Alaska when the rapture is about to happen? (See also: Bush, George W. and 2003 Invasion of Iraq)

    You beat me to it. I’ve thought for some time that GWB’s real exit strategy for Iraq was the Rapture.

  81. 81
    The Other Steve says:

    Ok, I hate to defend these fucks but I’m going to.

    The question put before the court was… “Does the Army Corps have the authority to issue this permit” and the court said yes.

    The court is making no determination on whether or not this is a good idea.

    What does this mean? It’s simple really.

    STOP FIGHTING THESE BATTLES BEFORE THE COURTS!

    Take it to Congress!!!!!!

    The EPA wasn’t created by a court decision, it was created by an Act of Congress. These fuckers can be undermined easily, but you’ve got to do the hard work.

  82. 82
    John Cole says:

    Well, that pretty much tells me that you still are a little brainwashed.

    You seriously want to argue there are no people on the fringe of the environmental movement?

    You’re comparing a dozen radical environmentalists out sabotaging whaling vessels or tying themselves up to oak trees against million-man, multi-billion dollar industries.

    No we aren’t. You are. All we said is that there are radicals on the fringe who would say no to anything.

    What is going on here? Is it “Argue Like Jonah Goldberg Day” here in the comments?

    What I said was neither disputable nor controversial.

  83. 83
    slag says:

    @Luke:

    Both agriculture and mining produce by-products that have to be dealt with in a responcible manner. (I’ll take a moment to note that the only evidence that this is not what is happening, is in the obvious hyperbole originally cited.)

    The fundamental divide here is not between left and right, but between rural and urban. People in rural areas largely depend on exploiting natural resources for their livelyhood. People in urban areas largely have an idealized and unrealistic view of what nature, and the rural lifestyle are like.

    I’ll be very generous and posit that some of this statement may explain differences on the east coast, but it doesn’t resonate at all here in the west. Beyond that, John Cole here is hardly a city boy, based on what I’ve seen, so it certainly doesn’t apply to him (in the east) either.

  84. 84
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @John Cole:

    You’re comparing a dozen radical environmentalists out sabotaging whaling vessels or tying themselves up to oak trees against million-man, multi-billion dollar industries..

    God your evil.:)

  85. 85
    slag says:

    @John Cole:

    What is going on here? Is it “Argue Like Jonah Goldberg Day” here in the comments?

    Ooooh! Can we have that as a holiday? I predict much fun and games would be had…until someone loses an eye, that is.

  86. 86
    jenniebee says:

    @tripletee (formerly tBone):

    But that goalpost keeps getting shifted. Twenty years ago when my father declined a plastic bag for his video rental on the grounds that he could carry a video, thanks, and no need to put more plastic in landfills, the new clerk slipped and said “oh, you’re the environmental nu… guy.” Today, video stores have dropped the habit of bagging every video rental, there’s a plastic recycling drop off at the curb, and every grocery store in town has reusable cloth bags for sale, cheap, and offers discounts if you bring your own bags. Dad’s wild unibomber-like extreme aversion to unnecessary plastic consumption has gone mainstream. Next thing you know, the whole country will be casual birdwatchers and holding bake sales to pay for mulching nature trails.

    My dad. Trendsetter.

  87. 87
    gizmo says:

    I think the Right is resistant to environmental values because they see “collectivism” lurking close behind. What pushes their buttons is the notion that if we come together as a society for the betterment of all, then somehow individual liberties are trampled (never mind the fact that they are always eager to roll over and sacrifice said liberties to the all-powerful state.)

    They are also fiercely resistant to the idea of the “commons.” They can’t wrap their little minds around the concept that things like air and water and soil are shared resources on which we all depend.

  88. 88
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @jenniebee:

    Twenty years ago when my father declined a plastic bag for his video rental on the grounds that he could carry a video, thanks, and no need to put more plastic in landfills, the new clerk slipped and said “oh, you’re the environmental nu… guy.

    You’re lucky, twenty years ago my dad would have demanded some DDT in the plastic bag. Just to piss me off.

    That’s an exaggeration on my part, but not a big one.

  89. 89
    The Other Steve says:

    @jenniebee: Funny. I can’t remember when they started asking “do you need a bag?”… I mean all stores. But if I just got one or two items why would I need a bag?

    Someone finally realized that bags cost money. This is a clear example that had the cost of disposal been passed to the company making the bags, the market would have sooner decided you didn’t need bags.

    Oh yeah, and I like our canvas bags for the grocery store. We’ve got a couple of really heavy duty ones. I can put at least 20 lbs of groceries in them without the handles breaking. It’s awesome. I carry all our groceries from the car in one trip. Two canvas bags in each hand up the stairs. I could never do that with paper or plastic, they’d break!

  90. 90
    The Other Steve says:

    Back to my point in 81… I think the left in this country really needs to mind shift on these issues. Again, the immediate response should not be to run to the courts. It should be to run to the world of public opinion and get congress to enact laws addressing the issue.

    I don’t know the statistics, but I remember back in the 1980s there was a big push to change the way Tuna was caught because the big nets also got all kinds of other fish such as dolphins. This push was entirely in the court of public opinion. Today I can go to the store and most of the tuna is Albacore saying Dolphin free. And the albacore tuna tastes better too.

    I just think it’s a good example of what can be done to change behaviors.

  91. 91
    Comrade Dread says:

    I think the Right is resistant to environmental values because they see “collectivism” lurking close behind.

    Republicans typically resist any expansion of government power over businesses (unless it benefits a preferred corporate interest.) Also, they naturally (or naively) have a belief that corporations will never act against their long term interests.

    While that may be true for some companies that realize that if they clear cut all the trees on their land, they’re out of business or if they buy up loans or derivatives on loans given to people who filled out their application in crayon they’re probably not going to last beyond the next quarter, many companies are dominated by a short term mentality to maximize profit for personal gain and get out before the inevitable crash so someone else is holding the bag.

    Plus we’ve all been fed the non-stop nattering about how a guy bought a parcel of land to develop and how the environmental nuts sued to stop him because someone found a rare insect on a portion of the land, and they assume that if any environmentalist is objecting to some business action, that it must be akin to that.

    You’re lucky, twenty years ago my dad would have demanded some DDT in the plastic bag.

    DDT’s probably a bad example to use since there have been subsequent studies which provided some evidence that it was not nearly the bird killing scourge it was alleged to be.

  92. 92

    […] If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed or email alerts. Thanks for visiting!I understand why it is now – ideological lines are rigid, and anything members of “teh left” oppose members of “teh right” support, and vice versa. If Obama and the Democrats came out in favor of puppy kisses and free ice cream, the NRO would have a hundred op-ed pieces declaring puppy kisses to be the vanguard of the incipient liberal fascism. But how did it get this way? Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?” Does anyone have a book that might explain things? [via Balloon Juice.] […]

  93. 93
    BenA says:

    @gizmo:
    I love the fact that all these assholes running around screaming about Waco and CIA helecopters were the first to get in line to hand over their rights when the scarry terrorists showed up. The sad truth is that not a single one of these “Libertarian” conservatives have the courage or the integrity of your average librarian.

    The next segment of the right is busy selling out the rest of their rights to every corporation they can find. Screaming about government intervention and capitalism… screw that apparenetly we don’t have the inalienable right to breath clean air and drink decent water… but a corporation can rape a lake in the name of profit.

    The last segment would give theirs and everyone elses rights away. Just as long as they could make you pray to Jesus Christ in a public school. I’ve got their little brain damaged spawn telling my 7 year old kid that they’re going to hell because they don’t go to church. The pure arrogance of these morons is astounding.

    But you know they’re all about liberty and individual rights…. and small government…. assholes… About the only thing I can tell that the modern GOP cares about is lowering taxes, guns, abortion, and screwing with the science standards in schools.

    *phew* I guess I was a little bit angry…

  94. 94
    Comrade Tudor says:

    @John Cole in thread:

    I hope it was a new shit bag

  95. 95
    d-man says:

    I haven’t read all the comments so this may have been stated already.

    I chalk all of this up to the rise of Boss Limbaugh. He mainstream the radical right partisenship.

  96. 96
    slag says:

    @gizmo:

    They are also fiercely resistant to the idea of the “commons.” They can’t wrap their little minds around the concept that things like air and water and soil are shared resources on which we all depend.

    I could see this argument as being true for libertarians, but it doesn’t explain mainstream conservatism’s attempts to legislate morality. To some extent, they do see a “commons” as it pertains to individual sexuality (which I find kinda creepy, when I think about it). So, I think this issue goes back to John’s post on abortion, where he observed that our understanding of what is private and what is public has gotten all mixed up. For conservatives, air, land, and water are somehow seen as private goods while someone’s body (specifically, a woman’s body) is seen–to varying degrees–as a public good.

  97. 97
    Tsulagi says:

    @Scott: Yep.

    They could also send mailers to those who obtain hunting and fishing licenses. Likely would be public information in most states. I’m guessing that’s why I sometimes get whacky 2nd Amendment mailings telling me the Dems are plotting to take all my guns.

  98. 98
    Jager says:

    My family had a cabin on a lake in Northern Minnesota and as the lake got more crowded the state stepped up septic system regulations, the developers and Repubs on the local level went nuts.
    The naysayers shut up when sat photos became available that actually showed that the property owners were fishing, swimming and water skiing in fecal material…the pictures proved what all the reports said and they couldn’t double talk the facts anymore…20 years later the lake is clean and fresh again and the fishing (I’m told) is as good as it was when I was a kid!

  99. 99
    b-psycho says:

    …and the government has the authority to approve dumping in common waters because _____?

  100. 100

    And the capitalist listened to him politely and then said “no, that’s not what you do. You make as much money whaling as you possibly can, while it lasts, and then when it isn’t profitable anymore, you take that money and invest it in something else.”

    Sounds like the evil aliens in INDEPENDENCE DAY:

    I saw… its thoughts. I saw what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving from planet to planet… their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource they move on… and we’re next. Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards.

    The only “ideology” that enters into this for wingers is “does this piss off LIEbruls?” If so, then they’re cool with it.

    Remember, these are the sort of people who’ll say, as someone did on my blog:

    come join our vast right wing conspiracy.

    – buy a gun
    – eat a steak
    – drive a gas-guzzling truck
    – cut those tags off your pillows
    – club a baby seal
    – smoke in public places
    – cut down a redwood
    – mix your recyclables with regular trash

    Many of which are counterproductive both collectively AND individually, but if it makes libruls mad, it’s good. These people have the minds of badly behaved children.

  101. 101
    Punchy says:

    You seriously want to argue there are no people on the fringe of the environmental movement?

    I sense a strawman nearby.

  102. 102
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @jenniebee:

    Dad’s wild unibomber-like extreme aversion to unnecessary plastic consumption has gone mainstream. Next thing you know, the whole country will be casual birdwatchers and holding bake sales to pay for mulching nature trails.

    Sure, but there’ll still be some rambling-manifesto-writing dude clinging to the dead trees to prevent them from being mulched.

  103. 103
    gizmo says:

    The other basis for rightwing resistance to environmental values is the Christian notion that man is the highest, coolest, most important being on the planet. Once you buy into that proposition, the Earth and all its other creatures are expendable.

  104. 104
    Face says:

    there’s a plastic recycling drop off at the curb,

    Yeah, but there’s something fishy about this. The company I work for uses a LOT of plastic, and we agreed to recycle it. After about 3 months, the company “doing” the recycling suddenly balked at our amounts, and said no mas.

    My guess is that there isnt a big market for recycled plastic, and this company was overwhelmed with inventory. Either way, this “plastics recycling” isn’t really all that much of a pancea.

  105. 105
    slag says:

    @BenA:

    phew I guess I was a little bit angry…

    A worthwhile rant if I ever saw one.

  106. 106
    Mr Furious says:

    @Jager: It reminds me over the Lake Tahoe battle. Once a crystal clear lake that you could see 80 feet* down in, the clarity of the lake has diminished greatly from lawn fertilizer runoff.

    All the rich mansion-come-lately GOP asshats who built on the lake screamed “property rights” and that the city/state couldn’t tell them what to do on their property.

    Never mind the fact that they are destroying the very resource that caused them to locate there in the first place…

    “My lawn!” is all that matters. Even though they probably NEVER set foot on it.

    * pulled wholly from my ass. I don’t remember the figures

  107. 107
    Continuum says:

    You should also read today’s LA Times story which includes about 5 other SCOTUS decisions which will enable further destruction of the environment so that some already filthy rich owner can make even more money, while leaving the cleanup and pollution and poisoning for some future generation.

    We need to remove these perverted justices from their positions on the SCOTUS.

    Don’t forget their previous sex discrimination ruling that prevented a female employee from suing for wage discrimination because she didn’t file within six months of the actual abuse. Forget about the fact that the company kept it hidden from her for 30 years.

    These justices should be impeached. They are going out of their way to mis-interpret the law.

  108. 108
    Comrade Dread says:

    The other basis for rightwing resistance to environmental values is the Christian notion that man is the highest, coolest, most important being on the planet. Once you buy into that proposition, the Earth and all its other creatures are expendable.

    That would be a lazy, easily refutable assertion, as the answer to the question of allowing a small group of men to pollute or exploit a resource enjoyed by a larger group of men and animals would always be no.

  109. 109
    John Cole says:

    @Punchy: There is, but I am not the one making it.

  110. 110
    LD50 says:

    My guess is that there isnt a big market for recycled plastic, and this company was overwhelmed with inventory

    Precisely so. Most of the US’s recycled plastic goes to China, and they’re mired in a bigass recession like everyone else. So a lot of recyclables are just piling up.

  111. 111
    Mr Furious says:

    @Mr Furious: I was wrong with my figures on Lake Tahoe’ clarity…It used to be even better…

    Lake Tahoe has a water clarity of about 70 ft (21 m) deep. The clarity has reduced from greater than 100 ft (30.5m) since readings began in the late 1960’s. The last published annual average Secchi depth reading was 67.7 ft (20.6m) in 2006 (page 10.2, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center publication “Tahoe: The State of the Lake Report 2007”.)

  112. 112
    binzinerator says:

    @slag:

    What is going on here? Is it “Argue Like Jonah Goldberg Day” here in the comments?

    Ooooh! Can we have that as a holiday?

    Don’t see why not. They got a Talk Like a Pirate Day, we oughta be able to have an Argue Like Jonah Goldberg Day.

    Why is it not considered conservative to say “this could cost us a lot in the long run, not just monetarily, but in terms of other measures.”

    That kind of thinking only happens if you care about the long run. Or if you can even think long term.

    Modern conservatism stopped having anything to do with conservation sometime in the mid 70’s. This shift was already complete when Reagan made James Watt the US Sec of Interior.

    I also think this has something to do with conservatives’ knee-jerk opposition to whatever DFHs like. It’s Conservative dogma now, that conservation = environmentalism = liberal DFH tree hugger = eco-terrorism.

    If modern conservatives were convinced the DFHs were enamored of conservative penises they’d cut their own dicks. With a rusty butter knife.

  113. 113
    Cris says:

    @Anoniminous: @Scott:
    Good idea!
    Never going to happen, of course.

    Allow me to introduce you to Brian Schweitzer.

  114. 114
    docrailgun says:

    As in every issue, the answer boils down to money.

    The small farmers, serious-minded hunters (as opposed to the guys who mostly want to drink and make lots of noise), serious-minded fishers (as the hunters), and responsible lumber firms have no political strength outside of local areas (though they could possibly change things in certain states) because they simply don’t make enough money to make changes on a national level. Their ideas aren’t welcome in right-leaning groups because they don’t follow the new conservative dogma, and as mentioned up-thread they’re not beig courted by the left. They can’t go it alone and change anything because they don’t have huge corporate farms nor a rabid base that will empty their pockets to fund their commie pinko fascist liberal ideas like planting trees so there will be some to cut down in the future, or that handguns are for killing people rather than hunting.

  115. 115
    Scott says:

    These justices should be impeached. They are going out of their way to mis-interpret the law.

    I’ve long felt that we should impeach more Supreme Court justices. You don’t even have to focus on how they interpret or misinterpret the law. Scalia’s a crooked sumbitch, and everyone knows it. It’d take a good prosecutor about 30 minutes to come up with a good case to prosecute him.

  116. 116
    binzinerator says:

    @binzinerator:

    Oh yeah, one more thing. Conservatives’ core constituentcy, big business, has figured out how to shift the long-run costs onto the public. (But I see others have already pointed this out.)

    Making other people pay for your fuckups is now a core conservative principle.

  117. 117
    RSA says:

    Off the top of my head, I think there’s a conservative/libertarian argument that runs like this:

    Dumping millions of tons of shit into a lake is bad, but government regulation preventing a business from doing so would be worse.
    The damage can be thought of as an externality, a cost borne by parties not part of some transaction.
    Ronald Coase argued that, under some conditions, such a situation can be resolved without government regulation.
    Thus, it’s best just to let things go.

    (Unfortunately, from my point of view, I think Coase’s solution involves local people paying the business not to pollute, which strikes me as encouraging a sort of protection racket business model. But I’m not an economist, much less a conservative/libertarian economist, so I might be wrong about that.)

  118. 118
    Cris says:

    I’d also like to add that I personally have a very close friend who would shut down all business, if he could.

  119. 119
    Tsulagi says:

    there’ll still be some rambling-manifesto-writing dude clinging to the dead trees to prevent them from being mulched.

    Or zero tolerance ordinance writers in my tiny incorporated city where the “progressives” are now in charge.

    At a recent city council meeting where I brought my own reservations about the utopia they’re creating, one resident complained he was fined $500 for not obtaining a permit to cut down a dead tree on his property. Residents must now obtain a permit to remove a tree; it’s to protect the environment from us evildoers.

    Plus, in order to be considered eligible for a permit, a tree must not have been removed from your property within the past 12 months. In that poor bastard’s case, during the past winter a power utility had cut down a tree on his property that had damaged a residential power line. So he couldn’t get a permit. That, and that a dead tree potentially could damage his house or injure someone if it fell whooshed over the city council members’ heads. Zero tolerance, bitches.

    Progressives have all the potential to suck ass just as their winger counterparts have been.

  120. 120
    binzinerator says:

    @BenA:

    phew I guess I was a little bit angry…

    It means 1) you’re not a moran and 2) you’ve been paying attention.

  121. 121
    lauren says:

    Similarly, the republicans supported allowing snow mobilers in National Parks and democrats opposed it. Why is that a right/left issue?

  122. 122
    numbskull says:

    tripletee (formerly tBone) said: “Why do you say that? He’s right. There are extremist whackjobs at the far left of the environmental movement, and denying that is silly and dishonest.”

    tripletee, that’s not what John wrote. What he wrote was:

    ” I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could.”

    I think that’s just right-wing brainwashing bullshit.

    Let me rephrase:
    Please cite useful references supporting the argument that there are leftists who want to shut down ALL business.

    See my point?

    And thanks for the “silly and dishonest”. Your use of a strawman argument followed by calling my statement “silly and dishonest” was my daily dose of irony. I can skip my Geritol now.

  123. 123

    Isn’t kissing puppies sort of like being a pedophile? Can’t decent people wait until puppies have grown into adult dogs before engaging in such lascivious behavior?

    And who’s going to pay for the free ice cream? Nothing is free. Americans fought and died for the right to buy that ice cream. You want my taxpayer dollars to pay for ice cream for the lazy poor and the illegals who’ll cross our borders in order to get our free ice cream. I think not!

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go pee into a stream.

  124. 124
    ironranger says:

    We have a family cabin with siblings in NE Minn that is on a shallow lake that tends to get weedy. 50 years ago I remember when they would poison the weeds in the lake but at least they told everyone not to swim in the lake for a period of time. I have no idea what the weed killer was. They stopped doing that a long time ago.

  125. 125
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @numbskull:

    Please cite useful references supporting the argument that there are leftists who want to shut down ALL business.

    OK.

    And thanks for the “silly and dishonest”. Your use of a strawman argument followed by calling my statement “silly and dishonest” was my daily dose of irony.

    I do think you’re minimizing how radical some of the Earth-firster types are, and if you’re going to go around accusing people of being under the influence of “right-wing brainwashing,” you might want to invest in a thicker skin. That being said, the “silly and dishonest” comment was aimed at the argument that there aren’t fringers out there who would be thrilled to see every Walmart/Target/Walgreens/Starbucks in the country in flames – not you personally.

  126. 126
    numbskull says:

    John Cole said:

    “You seriously want to argue there are no people on the fringe of the environmental movement?”

    Et tu, John? You know good and well that what you wrote was that lefty fringe people wanted to shut down ALL business:

    ” I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could.”

    So prove it. What group of leftards wants to shut down ALL bidness?? Links, please.

    The idea that liberals want to shut down business is braindead brainwashing from the right.

    As far as I can tell, even the Dirtiest of the Fuckingest hip Hippees don’t want to shut down business just for the hell of it. They want to shut down the nasty stuff that the businesses dump in the public’s lap to clean up.

  127. 127
    The Raven says:

    They aren’t conservatives–they’re radicals. If you study the numbers, and the popular attitudes, you’ll find that there are a lot of conservative environmentalists; environmentalism crosses most political lines. But ideological “conservatives,” neo-cons if you like–which are most conservative government officials–are generally in the pockets of big business, and are deeply contemptuous of any concern that is not directly related to their glorious selves.

    Grumble, gripe, can’t even eat the carrion any more.

  128. 128
    gwangung says:

    As far as I can tell, even the Dirtiest of the Fuckingest hip Hippees don’t want to shut down business just for the hell of it.

    As a progressive, I think you need to look harder. Or get more experience.

    Just saying.

  129. 129
    Comrade Stuck says:

    So prove it. What group of leftards wants to shut down ALL bidness??

    The left coast anarchists? I don’t know if they qualify ideologically, but I’ve never seen one open an ice cream shop, or join the Chamber of Commerce.

  130. 130
    numbskull says:

    Obviously I am not being clear here. Sorry about that.

    John and 3t, I don’t mean to imply that YOU are currently brainwashed. I use the phrase as is “this is the type of stuff that the right has used to brainwash us all for years.”

    John, that fact that you would bring up the point is proof of that. Why is it just accepted that fringe DFH want to shut down any, much less all, business? Even the wackiest manifestos don’t have that as a end per se.

  131. 131
    numbskull says:

    “As a progressive, I think you need to look harder. Or get more experience.”

    So you know of people who simply want to shut down all business? Just for grins and giggles? All business?

  132. 132
    Comrade Stuck says:

    I don’t mean to imply that YOU are currently brainwashed.

    I am. Everywhere I look I see Purple Unicorns and hopey-change.

  133. 133
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @numbskull:

    So you know of people who simply want to shut down all business? Just for grins and giggles? All business?

    Ahem.

  134. 134
    numbskull says:

    “…but I’ve never seen one open an ice cream shop, or join the Chamber of Commerce.”

    And so of course they must want to shut down business in general. Got it.

    As to the left coast anarchists, I’m sure no expert and I must look into getting more experience (apparently), but didn’t they have some pretty specific policies that they were demonstrating against? And again, I don’t have much experience here, but doesn’t it look like their take on NAFTA may have had some good points? I mean, the march of history and all being what it is and all, doesn’t it look like they might have been, oh I don’t know, correct about one or two things?

  135. 135
    ZaftigAmazon says:

    I actually know something about this case. The problems are not with the disposal itself, but the precedents being set. This geological formation in question is one of the few ore bodies that does not produce acid when exposed to water. Therefore, whatever heavy metals are in place do not leach out, and remain inert. One of the main recreation sites in Juneau Alaska is a beach consisting of mine tailings from the Treadwell gold mine. If acid mine drainage had been a problem, Juneau Alaska would have been declared a Superfund site, instead of being one of the least polluted small cities in North America. Coeur Alaska would basically be pouring sand into an extremely deep lake. If anything, the lake would likely produce more fish after Coeur was through with the mine, than it did before.

    The problem is that there are other mine projects on the horizon, that have serious acid drainage problems. The proposed Pebble Mine is an open pit mine in the headwaters of one of the largest salmon producing areas in the world; Lake Clark and Lake Iliamna have of between 1 million and 48 million sockeye salmon a year returning to spawn. The area is also home to the (120,000 +) Mulchatna caribou herd. And all we have are promises from Northern Dynasty “be good stewards.”

  136. 136
    numbskull says:

    “Ahem.”

    Ah yeah. That’s shutting down business. Hokay, just as long as we’re still stuffin’ straw.

  137. 137
    chopper says:

    @guster:

    what’s really funny is the very first thing god asked adam to do, before ‘be fruitful and multiply’, before the fall and the subsequent mitzvot, before any of that garbage– god asked adam to name all of his creations.

    this is ultimately the thing we were made for. to be a consciousness with the ability to recognize and celebrate the stuff the dude made. so killing off every living thing we can find in the name of money kinda goes against everything god created us for, dunnit?

    what’s really mindblowing is, try arguing that with a wingnut and point out that evolutionary biologists, the dudes out in the swamps trying to find and categorize all sorts of new species, these are the guys doing god’s most important work.

  138. 138
    chopper says:

    @Comrade Stuck:

    yeah, i’ve marched with those guys. i mean hardcore dudes who are anti-business all the way.

  139. 139

    […] the current state of affairs: Left vs. Right John Cole ponders: Why is it that anyone who says “killing all the wildlife in this lake might be a bad idea” […]

  140. 140
    Jennifer says:

    Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?” Does anyone have a book that might explain things? Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?

    Why? Because not allowing dumping it into the lake might cost some money and lower the business owner’s profit, and anything that costs money without increasing profits is by definition “liberal”. If you want to read a book that explains this, there are actually two of them: What’s the Matter With Kansas and Atlas Shrugged.

    You can’t understand modern conservatism – at all – unless you understand its core precept, which is: the highest calling of democracy is to design and protect a system in which it is possible to grasp and hold unlimited wealth. The fact that grasping and holding unlimited wealth is an option only available, for the most part, to those few who already possess great wealth doesn’t enter into it. The modern conservative ideal is essentially the notion that, if the rest of us do not think that government of, by, and for the people – all the people – should have as its sole focus the protection of the ability of the few to own everything, then we have “failed democracy” and are “unpatriotic”. “Freedom” means one thing and one thing only – the freedom of the few to own everything, and the freedom of the rest of us to go along with whatever rules they impose.

    They need to change the name of the party to “Tory” or “Royalist”, because essentially they believe the highest calling of democracy is for all of us to vote for the protection and increasing wealth and comfort of the few at our own expense.

  141. 141

    Anarcho-primitivism is for people who think everything went downhill after we started farming. Presumably this includes all forms of business.

  142. 142
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @numbskull:

    Ah yeah. That’s shutting down business.

    You asked for an example of a “leftist that wanted to shut down all business.” I gave you one (albeit second-hand) from this very thread. So stuff your straw up your shifting goalposts, mmm-kay?

  143. 143
    kay says:

    I’m an environmental convert, and palling around with environmentalists converted me.
    I’m not an environmentalist. I don’t have the focused interest, I don’t have the inclination to do all that reading, but I listened to them when allying on general lefty causes and I admire them.
    I am really, really grateful they’re around.
    I think they’ve done amazingly well. They’re a small non-profit army up against a massive, well-funded industry machine.
    I cannot imagine what this country would look like had they not fought back, and for so long! Imagine it. It’s horrifying. The Great Lakes, as just one example that is dear to me, would be completely compromised were it not for the “fanatics” in the ’70’s that started suing.

  144. 144
    kay says:

    I also wonder at what point would conservatives call a halt. What would have to happen to vast bodies of fresh water and public lands before they would break with dogma and allow government to intervene?
    We didn’t find out, but we could have.

  145. 145
    Spoosmith says:

    Because conservatives suck at math?

  146. 146
    Gus says:

    One of the weird political oddities out there is that Democrats generally cede outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, farmers, and ranchers to the GOP

    I don’t get it either. During Bush’s first term my dad (a once avid fisherman and hunter) was pissed about some environmental loophole that the Bush administration was pushing that impacted salmon in the Pacific Northwest. But when push came to shove he was more worried that Kerry looked French and Bush would rescue the snowflake babies apparently. He couldn’t bring himself to vote for a Democrat.

  147. 147
    numbskull says:

    triple t wrote: “You asked for an example of a “leftist that wanted to shut down all business.” I gave you one (albeit second-hand) from this very thread. So stuff your straw up your shifting goalposts, mmm-kay?”

    Geeze trip, I went to the link and it sure didn’t look like people trying to shut down business. I’ll go look again.

  148. 148
    Jennifer says:

    @Tsulagi:

    Progressives have all the potential to suck ass just as their winger counterparts have been.

    I think we could just shorten that to “stupid people suck ass” and be done with it. In the Venn diagram of stupid, the bubble for “rightwingers” doesn’t overlap with the bubble for stupid; it is entirely contained within the bubble for stupid. Meanwhile, there are bubbles for “liberals” and “conservatives” that overlap “stupid”, representing that those groups have subsets of stupid people.

    As I’m fond of saying, half of all people are of below average intelligence – but this alone does not account for the quantity of stupid in the world. There are plenty of smart people doing stupid shit as well – it’s just that with most of them, it’s not the default setting.

  149. 149
    chopper says:

    @Gus:

    one word: taxes.

    if you ever meet anyone who’s a single issue environmental voter, they’ll likely vote dem or green or whatever.

    but otherwise, right wingers, even the hunters and fishermen who are pissed at the idea of toxic sludge in their favorite locale, still usually see taxes as their biggest issue. seriously, you can bury plutonium in their backyard as long as you give em a tax cut.

  150. 150
    DFH no. 6 says:

    @Little Dreamer:

    “these Christians support Lucifer”

    Yes, they do (metaphorically-speaking, of course, since there does not exist an actual Devil, any more than there is an actual God).

    The significant swathe of fundagelical, American-style modern Calvinism that comprises the largest bloc in the Republican-voting “base” has been rightfully called “Toxic Christianity” for many good reasons.

    And it’s just a coinky-doink of wording, but many commenters herein have noted the very real connection between this toxic Christianity and toxic dumping.

    Mostly, though, it’s about the money. Everything else is secondary.

  151. 151
    numbskull says:

    Doh! My fault, Trip! I was looking at the wrong message. I was looking at the message right next to the one you referenced, which actually had some substance.

    The one you linked to said, in total:

    “I’d also like to add that I personally have a very close friend who would shut down all business, if he could.”

    Well, as long as it’s a persuasive argument. I mean, somebody, somewhere, has a very close friend who would like to shut down all business, if he could. What was I thinking? I bow before your amazing example!

    As to the strawman reference, you and John keep sending messages as though the point I was making was that there is no fringe element on the left. I never said that and I don’t see how what I wrote could be construed that way.

    But to be serious for a moment, John, I apologize for the “brainwash” comment. It was very poorly written. Serves me right for trying to do three things at once while only operating on half a brain.

  152. 152
    scarshapedstar says:

    Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?

    Two things, which I think you do understand.

    A) “Conservative” is now defined as “that which pisses off libruls”. If, say, Al Gore supports something, then the conservative position is to oppose it. Doesn’t matter whether Al is right or not. This is a holy war.

    As to how it got this way… well, basically, there has been a longstanding effort to characterize every attempt to prevent total ecological collapse as some sort of boondoggle. For example, the trope about how “no species has ever gotten off the endangered species list.” This is flat-out false, but I’m sure most wingnuts believe it, as most wingnuts have never seen a pelican, alligator, condor or wolf wandering around their gated communities. They just think “spotted owl” when they hear about stuff like this. Contemporary examples include the infamous Bear DNA study and Nancy Pelosi’s swamp mice. Hell, you might as well throw Jindal’s “somethin’ called ‘volcano monitorin'” onto the list, because that’s the kind of flat-earth shit we’re talking about.

    B) Obama is the antichrist and these are the end times. I don’t think this is really a consideration for even the wingnut judges, but some people really don’t believe that we have a long term. Basically, a quarter of the country belongs to a slow-paced suicide cult.

  153. 153
    Jennifer says:

    Also. Regarding Nixon founding the EPA, it’s important to keep two things in mind:

    1) By the standards of today’s GOP, Nixon was a raving liberal.
    2) At the time Nixon started the EPA, there were rivers in Ohio that were literally burning due to the amount of flammable chemical crap being dumped in them.

    You young whippersnappers weren’t around then, and even I wasn’t all that old, but I remember it. It made for kind of a compelling case for doing something.

  154. 154
    Cris says:

    It’s nice that I’m being cited as a reference, but it really is anecdata. And my friend really only feels that way when he’s experiencing bouts of depression.

    But to some extent, my friend does underscore the point: the belief that wilderness should be 100% protected from human interference is extremely fringe. The point of view does exist, and if you spend any time around people in Earth First! you’ll certainly hear the sentiment expressed that the world would be better off if humans weren’t in it. But as far as I can see, it’s nothing more than idle fantasizing, like pacifists who sit around dreaming of a world without war.

    However, this::

    Even the wackiest manifestos don’t have that as a end per se.

    Umm, Industrial Society and Its Future counts as both wacky and a manifesto. And ol’ Unabomber explicitly said:

    The only way out is to dispense with the industrial-technological system altogether.

    So, there you go. It’s being said. By lone maniacs.

  155. 155
    Cyrus says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Anarcho-primitivism is for people who think everything went downhill after we started farming. Presumably this includes all forms of business.

    From the link:

    Primitivists do not see themselves as part of the Left (see also post-left anarchy).

    Ergo, not the left.

    So far, the closest thing to an example of John’s statement that some people on the left “would shut down all business, if they could,” is Cris‘ statement that he knows someone like that. That’s it.

  156. 156
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @numbskull:

    Well, as long as it’s a persuasive argument. I mean, somebody, somewhere, has a very close friend who would like to shut down all business, if he could. What was I thinking? I bow before your amazing example!

    Never said it was an amazing example. Didn’t think it needed to be, since you were arguing that there’s no one – no one, not even “the Dirtiest of the Fuckingest hip Hippees” who believed that. That’s a silly argument on its face, because there’s always someone out there who holds a particular belief, no matter how crazy. And anyone who’s spent time around hard-core granolas knows that there are fringers out there who’d like to see all traces of industrialized society erased from the planet so we could return to an agrarian golden age. You can usually spot them by the dreadlocks and dirty beards.

    If you want something more substantive, read J.W. Hamner’s link and follow up on the rewilding movement.

  157. 157
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @Cyrus:

    Ergo, not the left.

    Face-desk.

    Nobody’s claiming that this is a mainstream liberal position – hence the judicious use of the word “fringe” – but it clearly grew out of lefty roots. It’s OK to admit that our side produces some extremists nutbars, you know.

  158. 158
    DFH no. 6 says:

    @scarshapedstar:

    Basically, a quarter of the country belongs to a slow-paced suicide cult.

    Too true.

    Very well put — I am so fucking going to steal that.

    Not much different from this, actually:

  159. 159
    Comrade Stuck says:

    One thing is fer sure, liberals/leftists would argue with a dern rock just for the sheer joy. Before chucking it into whatever was convenient, of course.

  160. 160
    steve s says:

    Obviously I understand the business interests at play, but what I don’t understand is that surely there have to be some on the right who say to themselves “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” That would seem to me to be the “conservative” position.

    My answer to this is going to seem glib, I know. But John, it seems increasingly like whenever I want to know the conservative position on something, I ask myself, what’s the stupidest possible position I could take on the topic, and that’s it.

    Q: What’s the stupidest possible position on health care?
    A: There’s no crisis.
    Q: What’s the stupidest possible position on evolutionary biology?
    A: The biologists are all lying conspirators.
    Q: What’s the stupidest possible position on tax cuts?
    A: They always increase revenue.
    Q: What’s the stupidest possible thing to do about North Korea?
    A: Bomb it.
    Q: What’s the stupidest possible criticism of Obama?
    A: He’s a marxist muslim illegal alien.
    etc etc etc.

  161. 161
    passerby says:

    In a 6-to-3 decision that drew fierce criticism from environmentalists, the court said the Corps of Engineers had the authority to grant Coeur Alaska Inc., a gold mining company, permission to dump the waste known as slurry into Lower Slate Lake, north of Juneau.

    How does the Corp of Engineers get to be the appropriate authority to grant permits to privately held corporations? Wish I had the answer to that question. Wild guess says Congress managed to give them that authority some where along the line.

    “We conclude that the corps was the appropriate agency to issue the permit and that the permit is lawful,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

    The SCOTUS probably ruled correctly in this case and as John pointed out, this may not be the issue. But that this toxic dumping can actually be legal is abominable in itself.

  162. 162
    Cyrus says:

    I understand the business interests at play, but what I don’t understand is that surely there have to be some on the right who say to themselves “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” That would seem to me to be the “conservative” position.

    In the long run, we’re all dead, so why do they care?

    I think what you’re noticing here might be created by the fact that environmentalism, and therefore anti-environmentalism, are actually a lot older than the kind of industry that sets rivers on fire and makes lakes uninhabitable and needs lead-lined containers. When Thoreau was writing (I’d drop other names too, but I didn’t like this part of English class much), the issue was deforestation of parts of the northeast. The stakes were the potential value of trees to generations to come and the intrinsic value of living trees themselves, whatever that is. Those may be important, but they aren’t crises like Superfund sites.

    So in the 19th century the pro-environment principled argument already existed – who are we to deforest, simplicity is a virtue and industrialization is complicated, etc. – but there just wasn’t a pro-environment pragmatic argument, not when the natural resources of the western U.S. were still unused and industrial pollution was merely ugly rather than actually killing people. So people of a more pro-business mindset have literally had generations to get used to ignoring environmental concerns. The worldview was created when environmental degradation was a philosophical problem, and to the extent it intruded on the real world, mostly as an aesthetic problem that you could choose to ignore.

  163. 163
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @Comrade Stuck:

    One thing is fer sure, liberals/leftists would argue with a dern rock just for the sheer joy.

    We would not.

  164. 164
    binzinerator says:

    @Jennifer:

    They need to change the name of the party to “Tory” or “Royalist”, because essentially they believe the highest calling of democracy is for all of us to vote for the protection and increasing wealth and comfort of the few at our own expense.

    Yup. And the authoritarian, religious fundamentalist and racist streaks in modern conservatism all contribute to a latent dislike of real democracy.

    As Garry Wills once noted, “The right wing in America is stuck with the paradox of holding a philosophy of ‘conserving’ an actual order it does not want to conserve.”

  165. 165
  166. 166
  167. 167
    gex says:

    The truly conservative/glibertarian take on this is that it presents a business/consumer opportunity. If Americans want non-toxic ground water, they’ll buy bottles of Aquafina.

    It’s a win-win situation. At least until the earth’s ecosystem can no longer support the food chain that feeds us.

  168. 168

    Psychologically, there’s an all-too-easy three-step slide:

    Step 1: My position has, overall, no worse side effects than any other, and better than many. This is a combination of moral and practical judgment.

    Step 2: As a matter of first principles, my position can’t have worse consequences than others, and if it seems to, it’s because of outside influences, contamination, sabotage, and such. This is where intellectual pride takes over and reality denial begins.

    Step 3: As a matter of first principles, my position can’t have major bad consequences at all. Maybe not even minor ones. If it seems to, it’s because of outside etc etc. this is willful blindness.

    Every idea there’s ever been can get abused this way, and people of good will have a responsibility to check themselves on it. There are lots of ways to go about it, but they all take work and all require sometimes admitting error, so they’re never going to be as popular as they should be.

  169. 169
    mabman says:

    Sigh – 168 posts, and exactly one has been from someone who actually knows anything about Kennsington. As a mineral industries professional, I’ve been following this story since 1994, when permitting activities began, and it’s hardly a case of the Supreme Court “bending over” for the mining industry. Coeur has invested between $100 – 150 million in developing a containment plan, following the tortuous NEPA process and dealing with numerous lawsuits along the way. As ZaftigAmazon points out, the tailings will be largely inert, which is what makes submarine dispersal feasible, and Coeur will be required to post a very healthy reclamation and remediation bond as well as assuming a perpetual liability for monitoring the lake. The Montana cases cited by Jared Diamond involve activities conducted well before the current permitting and bonding regime for metal mines was enacted, and have no real bearing on this situation.

    As for trying to implement 78 SMCRA for metal and non-metal mining, the big problem is that those commodities are not coal; there are very different mining methods, processes and costs involved which need to be dealt with. One reason why the codes can get so complex is that geology itself is complex; one size definitely does not fit all, and the concerns of an underground trona mine in Wyoming are completely different from those of an open-pit gold mine in Nevada.

    At present, it takes seven to ten years to permit a new metal mining operation in the US, a figure that has been essentially unchanged through the Clinton and Bush administrations; I certainly saw no gross relaxation of standards from 2001 – 08 in that regard. In fact, new bonding requirements and a host of new state regulations came into play during that period, all of which represent additional costs that have to be factored into a mine’s decision-making. It’s doable, but it doesn’t help when a media outlet choses to encapsulate a 15-year process in a few grossly misleading paragraphs, or when a host of people jump in loudly declaiming about subjects that they know nothing about.

    Here’s a challenge – get the Kennsington EIS from the Forest Service or BLM (they will provide copies upon demand, since they’re public records), read the pertinent sections on the submarine dispersal plan (you won’t want to read the whole thing – it’s probably 3-4 volumes), then come back with an informed list of criticisms. It’s what the environmental groups and NGOs do during the public hearing period, and it’s a lot more productive and useful to everyone than railing about liberals vs conservatives or churning out pseudo-philosophical critiques of everyone who disagrees with you.

  170. 170
    inkadu says:

    Christ, I got to comment number 120, and I just can’t read any more.

    So, two points:
    1 –

    The naysayers shut up when sat photos became available that actually showed that the property owners were fishing, swimming and water skiing in fecal material…

    Those must have been some big turds.

    2 – I vote for argue like Jonah Goldberg day.

    And, what the hey, just to risk repeating what people have already said but I have not read-

    There is no reason for any extractive industry to have any political interest OTHER than zero-government involvement, unless they can think long-term, and they can’t. Whatever gov’t does, is going to mean a short-term drop in profits. That said it’s really hard to build a political coalition involving industry around good stewardship. Businesses might gain some long-term viability, but only with the loss of short-term profits and long-term control. If you were a responsible logging company who owned land or had a long-term lease on the land, would you support an environmentalist? If you are responsible, there is nothing to be gained — an environmentalist would only threaten to cancel your lease, or raise fees, or create expensive requirements.

    Also please post the shitsack full of berries song when it is released. I’d also like to see Moby do a cover:
    I walked five miles with a shit bag full of berries,
    full of berries,
    full of berries,
    I do drugs. Why did you leave?

  171. 171
    eric says:

    “Does anyone have a book that might explain things? Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?”

    This is a pretty easy question and the answer gets mentioned all over the place. Simply put, modern republicans support anything that makes liberals angry. Wiping out all life in a lake is bound to piss off some liberals so the republicans support it. The republican party is no longer conservative (if it ever was…it hasn’t been for my adult life) and it no longer has any specific values that it asserts. The republican party does one thing and one thing only – hate liberals. That’s it.

    Spend some time driving to and from working listening to talk radio and the truth about the party faithful becomes obvious. They’re seriously dangerous and seriously crazy. They are passionate about it. They fucking hate us.

  172. 172
    p mac says:

    Well, yes. Supposedly TR is a big hero of the modern Republican party, and yet, and yet…

    “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Obama does it; McCain does the opposite. (Blow hard and hold your itty bitty…stick. The poor guy is a senator for Chrissake; he has no stick at all.)

    TR created a whole lot of (really big!) national parks. No way would you catch any true-blue Republican at in at the national level aggressively protecting the parks we’ve got, never mind creating a new one.

    In the 80’s, (I like to think), I’d have voted for Republicans at the national level. But post somewhere around 1994, they took a very wrong turn, and went into a pathological state of denial on anything from deficit spending to global warming. (HRC called it a VRWC. She was right.)

  173. 173
    kay says:

    @mabman:

    I think setting this up as a battle of equals is dishonest.

    I thought your last line was particularly telling: you insist we read the environmental impact statement, and then critique during the public comment period, because that’s what the environmental groups and NGO’s do.

    Industry and their friends in Congress versus public comment periods by “environmental groups and NGO’s”. Wow. Mining interests must be scared to death. Poor babies. It’s a wonder your making any money at all, with all that push-back!

    By the way, I’m thrilled that state governments are finally reigning mining in, adding regulation. It’s about time state government looked to the common welfare. Clearly, the feds have no intention of doing anything productive.

  174. 174
    garyb50 says:

    @ZaftigAmazon:
    @mabman:

    For those who don’t read the comments.

  175. 175
    cliff says:

    @inkadu:

    Yup big fucking clouds of turd slurry. with chunks. its disgusting and is the main reason I would never surf at The Maroubra toilet bowl even though its a nice wave.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=.....&z=15

    note the disgusting brown cloud offshore on the south end of the beach – it Should be centered if the link works.

  176. 176
    Angela says:

    My primary source of income is working on Corps of Engineer projects. Believe me, they do whatever they want, when they want. Fuckers.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] the current state of affairs: Left vs. Right John Cole ponders: Why is it that anyone who says “killing all the wildlife in this lake might be a bad idea” […]

  2. […] If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed or email alerts. Thanks for visiting!I understand why it is now – ideological lines are rigid, and anything members of “teh left” oppose members of “teh right” support, and vice versa. If Obama and the Democrats came out in favor of puppy kisses and free ice cream, the NRO would have a hundred op-ed pieces declaring puppy kisses to be the vanguard of the incipient liberal fascism. But how did it get this way? Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?” Does anyone have a book that might explain things? [via Balloon Juice.] […]

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