Archive for the '"Green"' Category


The road to hell is paved with half-baked activism

If you want a case study in how well-intentioned government actors and NGO activists can royally screw up the lives of those they claim to be helping, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than this — an obscure provision in the Dodd-Frank act meant to ensure that minerals bought from Africa didn’t benefit warlords.

Unfortunately, the provision simply stopped companies from buying minerals in conflict regions altogether — because no one wants to be accused of funding homicidal warlords. The provision devastated the economy of the eastern Congo and, in a sad twist, actually empowered local warlords even more.

From the New York Times:

For locals, however, the law has been a catastrophe. In South Kivu Province, I heard from scores of artisanal miners and small-scale purchasers, who used to make a few dollars a day digging ore out of mountainsides with hand tools. Paltry as it may seem, this income was a lifeline for people in a region that was devastated by 32 years of misrule under the kleptocracy of Mobutu Sese Seko (when the country was known as Zaire) and that is now just beginning to emerge from over a decade of brutal war and internal strife.

The pastor at one church told me that women were giving birth at home because they couldn’t afford the $20 or so for the maternity clinic. Children are dropping out of school because parents can’t pay the fees. Remote mining towns are virtually cut off from the outside world because the planes that once provisioned them no longer land. Most worrying, a crop disease periodically decimates the region’s staple, cassava. Villagers who relied on their mining income to buy food when harvests failed are beginning to go hungry.

Meanwhile, the law is benefiting some of the very people it was meant to single out. The chief beneficiary is Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is nicknamed The Terminator and is sought by the International Criminal Court. Ostensibly a member of the Congolese Army, he is in fact a freelance killer with his own ethnic Tutsi militia, which provides “security” to traders smuggling minerals across the border to neighboring Rwanda.

Well, that’s a real tragedy, but there’s no way the U.S. government and the advocacy groups pressing for the provision could have predicted this outcome, right?

The Rev. Didier de Failly, a Belgian priest who has lived in Congo for 45 years, insistently warned Western advocacy groups of the dangers posed by their campaign. He told them it was no defense for them to claim that they weren’t proposing an embargo, since what they were doing would inevitably lead to one.

But once the advocacy groups succeeded in framing the debate as a contest between themselves and greedy corporate interests, no one bothered to solicit the opinion of local Congolese.  As the leader of a civil-society group, Eric Kajemba, asked me, more in confusion than in anger, “If the advocacy groups aren’t speaking for the people of eastern Congo, whom are they speaking for?”

Answer: their own smug little selves.


I’m not saying certain ‘progressives’ harbor authoritarian tendencies, but …

Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere:

Many times I’ve riffed on a dark, delicious fantasy about rounding up Tea Bagger types and sentencing them to green re-education camps for minimum one-year terms. Not to punish per se but to expose these contemptible morons to facts, to truth, to the way things really are and how they’re being played by the rich, and the fact that Boomers have taken almost everything and that diminished lifestyles and economic security are being bequeathed to Genx and GenY for decades to come, and that the best is definitely over. The infra-structure that once provided decent, fair-minded quality of life to middle-class people in this country is disintegrating. The game is rigged. This is the fall of the Roman Empire.

All largely because of impediments to logical, intelligent governing put up by the knee-jerk, mule-like, corporate-kowtowing mentality of Tea-Bagger types and their 60 or so looney-tunes Congresspersons now in office. We’ve truly become a South American society of rightist oligarchs, angry lefties, disillusioned wage-earners, retirement-age fuddies and struggling, debt-smothered have-nots, and the rightist boobs will never understand that they’re primarily the problem. The deficit-reduction deal will almost certainly hurt growth and kill jobs, most analysts are saying. And the radical right will own this when it happens. This level of ideological denial is no longer appalling — it’s become lethal. Ignoramuses can no longer be tolerated. The right is killing this country, things have gotten really crazy, and Obama will never stand up to them.

A second Civil War would be an incredibly destructive thing, but it would feel so good.

Well then … re-education camps and civil war … I, uh … um … wow.

If you read the Reason post I culled this quote from, you can see quite a few other examples of liberals saying, basically, that the American public is too stupid to know what’s good for them, and we should just leave complicated things like the debt ceiling up to experts. “Planners,” I suppose you could call them.


“You’re really anti-choice”

Senator Rand Paul, kicking ass and taking names:

So is this what a crazy Tea Party Congressman bent on destroying the foundations of government sounds like?  If so, more please.


Wikileaks: With Friends Like These …

Among the list of conspiracy kooks, Neo-Nazis, preening axe-grinders, media blowhards and genuinely well-intentioned transparency advocates that are pro-Wikileaks, you can add the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, who submitted a resolution to the Berkeley City Council proclaiming Private Bradley Manning (the guy who allegedly leaked tons of classified documents to Wikileaks) a “hero.”

The city council indefinitely tabled the resolution, but not for perhaps the reasons you would think. From The Daily Caller:

The city council put off consideration of the motion citing concerns that it was premature to proclaim Manning a hero as he has yet to actually admit to the allegations that he is the leaker. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Councilman Kriss Worthington believed whoever leaked the information was a hero, however.

“I think this should come back to us if he actually says that he did it,” said Worthington.

In other news, old Berkeley hippies still haven’t gotten over that time in 1969 when National Guard helicopters dumped nausea gas on protesters in People’s Park, which was, by all accounts except the hippies’, hilarious.

Seriously, though, I’m all for whistle-blowers, but it might be a fair bit of a stretch to call Manning a “hero.” There are lots of real heroes out there, big and small. For Berkeley to choose to honor this soldier, besides, say, any of the countless soldiers who actually gave their lives and well-being in service to their country, well, it comes off as political and two-faced.


The Definition of Disingenuous

“Health concerns” are frequently invoked by political activists seeking to ban or regulate certain practices. Witness the countless campuses across the nation that are going “smoke free” at the behest of so-called “clean air” activists who piously lecture administrators about how catching even a whiff of tobacco smoke on the street is turning their lungs into sacks of ash. Faced with the realization that the whaling industry is uninterested in acceding  to their demands, to say the very least, anti-whaling activists have now begun to ape the anti-smoking movement’s tactics by attempting to create a health scare over the consumption of whale meat:

Environmental and animal-welfare groups are urging the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to persuade the World Health Organization (WHO) to act over fears about eating whale meat…

The groups say whale meat is highly contaminated with mercury and should not be eaten. But whaling nations say they already have health guidelines in place.

“It’s quite wrong to use the term ‘health hazard’,” Kate Sanderson, director of the department of oceans and environment of Faroes’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told BBC News.

“It’s true that pilot whales have very high levels of mercury in the meat and PCBs in the blubber and in 1998, the relevant health authorities at the Faroes issued a safety recommendation advising people on how much it was safe to eat. And people have taken that advice on board.”

She also said that eating whale meat and blubber presented numerous, well-documented, benefits for humans.

But conservationists believe that harmful effects of mercury outweigh all the benefits.

That this is a patently disingenuous argument should be immediately clear. The sudden “concern” over mercury is a fairly obvious smokescreen for the larger anti-whaling agenda which, as I’ve written about before, amounts to nothing less than cultural imperialism and the imposition and normalization of a certain set of Western values on other societies:

“If we don’t have the whale meat and the blubber, what do we eat instead? We don’t have meat production as such in the Faroes other than sheep and a limited amount of cattle that is kept mostly for milk. The sheep population is certainly not enough to serve the meat needs.

“Pilot whales represent not only the traditional part of the diet that people value very much, but also something that’s free. It doesn’t have to be paid for as an import.

“So it has that economic value as well because you would have to look at what would be the cost of replacing it with imported meat.”

But animal activists call the tradition, which goes back several centuries, cruel and the killings unnecessary.

“The Faroes is a fairly wealthy country, and the tradition, if that’s what they want to call it, seems to be continuing just for tradition’s sake, rather than for any need for whale products,” said [Andy Ottaway of the Campaign Whale, a UK-based NGO]…

To so many of us in the countries that are sitting next door it just seems totally unacceptable. It is very clear that this form of hunting is incredibly cruel. There is no way it would be accepted in the British Isles, it would be against the law for conservation and welfare aspects.”

It’s about the activists, you see, and what social mores they find “acceptable.” And if they have to impose those values on everyone else under the guise of “health concerns,” well, at least they can say that they’re really looking out for what’s best for you.


Quote(s) of the day

“Hipsters are from a certain time period. The stereotype of a hipster is not something people aspire to anymore. Do you want to be a hipster? Nobody wants to be a hipster.”

– American Apparel founder and head Dov Charney talking about how the company’s stock plunged 66 percent over the last year.

And number two:

The Mountie didn’t rule out the possibility that the bears were fed marijuana.

“Maybe they mixed some pot into the food — it’s possible it’s why they were so laid back … they were just lollygagging around,” he said, adding the bears had made friends with a raccoon and pot bellied pig also found on the property.

– One of Canada’s finest, talking about a recent marijuana grow bust, where Mounties found 14 black bears, apparently being used to guard the grow operation.


Some Thoughts on the Oil Spill

  • This is shockingly bad. It’s like the Chernobyl of oil spills. We’re going to be living with the fallout from this (no pun intended) for decades.
  • Barack Obama is a putz. All of his for-the-cameras “outrage” and tough talk is cringe-inducing, to say the least. From the way this Administration is talking, you’d think that BP is purposefully taking its time trying to clean this thing up. I mean, what was all that bilge last week about how the US government was going to step in and “push BP aside” if they don’t succeed in capping the well? If they think they can do it better, why haven’t they stepped in already? The fact of the matter is that BP is probably the best-equipped organization on the planet to find a solution to this.
    • The fact that BP didn’t have much of a contingency plan in place before this happened is utterly insane.
  • The real losers in this are the fishermen and other people who make their livelihoods from the Gulf. The environmental consequences are going to be massive, but they can and will be mitigated. But I have my doubts that some of these industries are ever going to recover to what they used to be.
    • The populist outrage is understandable, given the circumstances, but the people screaming “BP, you ruined our futures and our heritage” seem to be missing part of the story. Fishing boats use diesel and that diesel comes from somewhere, after all. I guess people in the Gulf only use petroleum products from Shell.
  • People using this disaster as a convenient talking point against using fossil fuels make me want to puke.
  • People using this disaster as a convenient talking point against the “deregulation” bogeyman also make me want to puke.
  • Glenn Beck is a putz. Good grief.
  • People using this disaster as a convenient talking point about how this is “Obama’s Katrina” make me want to puke. This is bad, and the Obama Administration has looked like a bunch of useless, finger-pointing clowns, but last I heard no major American cities have yet been effectively obliterated.
  • People are freaking crazy. Excerpt:

I’m coming to believe that some bad folks are intentionally destabilizing the earth’s crust, predisposing (if not actually causing) earthquakes & potentially a shift in the Earth’s orbit.

  • Potential solution to the cleanup problem: Jheri curl revival?
  • But seriously, all of this is totally depressing.
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of Steely Dan lately.