September 24th, 2009


Glenn Beck and left-right confusion

Good read: Glen Greenwald on Glenn Beck and the tea-party protests:

"In one important sense, the 'tea party' movement is similar to the Obama campaign for 'change': it stays sufficiently vague and unspecific to enable everyone to read into what they want, so that people with fundamentally irreconcilable views believe they're part of the same movement. ...But all that said, there are some identifiable - and plainly valid - underlying causes to these protests that are neither Republican nor Democratic, or even left or right. That's when conventional political language ceases to be useful...

"It's true that some of the protesters believe in nothing more than Republican resurgence, and that this movement has become a tool of Fox and the GOP. But much of the citizen anger that is driving these protests and which Glenn Beck is channeling is more complex than that. It has far more to do with deep economic anxieties and anger towards the political establishment and its elites than it does allegiance to one of the two parties or standard left-right debates. It's an overstatement to claim that 'there's not a dime's worth of difference between the parties,' but on many critical issues, the relevant breakdown has little or nothing to do with Republican v. Democrat or even Left v. Right. As the confusion around Glenn Beck and these protests reflect, those distinctions serve far more to obfuscate and distract than they do to explain and clarify."


Shrinking river deltas, power shortages, and state secrets

* Water on the moon!
* "Most of the world's major river deltas are sinking, increasing the flood risk faced by hundreds of millions of people."
* "Electricity use from power-hungry gadgets is rising fast all over the world."
* Three different takes on the new White House state secrets policy, from Michael Scherer, Ed Brayton, and Glen Greenwald.
* Detroit is dead. Long live Detroit?
* Promising findings in testing a new AIDS vaccine.
* Whoah. 'Huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found.' (Courtesy multiplexer.) (UPDATE: gallery!)
* Today's headline: "Commentary: Why I fist-bumped the Dalai Lama"
* Hollywood looks for a new business model and a new direction.



"Time magazine's James Poniewozik, a columnist full of iconoclastic ideas about TV and pop culture, has come up with a brilliant take on National Parks that has suddenly aroused my interest in the series. In his mind, the National Parks project isn't just another Burns snoozefest that, as Poniewozik slyly puts it, finds the filmmaker 'passionately arguing positions almost everyone agrees with.' The series is actually an ingenious refutation of the popular conservative belief that big government is evil, outmoded and unnecessarily involved in ruling our lives.

"Noting that the original impetus for establishing national parks came from naturalists like John Muir who were horrified to see how Niagara Falls was nearly destroyed by the greed and hucksterism of free market-loving charlatans, Poniewozik writes: 'With America frothing over the role of government - Should it save banks? Should it expand health coverage? - The National Parks makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't.'

"In other words, the entire origin of the national park system, whose most passionate backer was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, is based on a firm belief in - Glenn Beck, cover your ears, please - government intervention to regulate an out-of-control free-enterprise system. In fact, one of the more dramatic moments in Burns' documentary involves the battle to create a park in the Great Smoky Mountains, while logging companies bankrolled anti-park ads and were 'frantically cutting the old-growth forests to extract everything they could before the land was closed to them.'"