Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

I Feel A Rant Coming On

It’s been a ridiculous few weeks. I’m glad the election in the US is finally over, and that it ended reasonably well, but I’m not surprised to see that  it’s led to yet another round of insanity, the so-called Obama Derangement Syndrome.

One of the overarching themes seems to be a widespread belief among these lunatics that somehow President Obama’s victory was the result of “voter fraud”. They manage to believe this while glossing over the fact that the only publicized cases of registration fraud involved Republicans. They also seem blissfully unaware of the casual admission that voter identification laws aggressively pushed in some states were targeted at disenfranchising traditionally Democratic voting individuals. This, it seems is some sort of legitimate strategy to win in the eyes of the new, non-reality-based conservative movement.

Thing is, polling leading up to the big day was pretty consistent. Other than within the deepest, most insulated segment of the conservative world that is completely divorced from reality by its apparent desire to hear only lies and propaganda from the media, it was reasonably clear to onlookers that President Obama was going to win. Even those expressing concern about a close race still had little to really worry about, their biggest fear seemed to be voter complacency bringing a different result. When pollster Nate Silver called a landslide Electoral College victory (correctly), he was dismissed by the right wing echo chamber as some kind of hack, never mind that polling data collaborated his claims, and his methodology is pretty simple and straightforward.

There of course has been no end to the ridiculous claims, more birtherism and so on. What’s even more hysterical is secession ramblings. Why do I find this so hilarious? Well, it’s fairly common knowledge that Red States (those where the secession nonsense comes from), are subsidized by federal tax dollars, which are essentially a transfer of wealth from Blue States. It’s not shocking to see this happen when you look at socioeconomic measures in the Blue States. Better education, higher incomes, lower rates of teen pregnancy, etc etc etc…. To me, this is something of an amusing parallel of the sovereignty movement in Quebec, it’s floated amongthe politically ostracized but devoid of any practical consideration.

The latest thing the wingnuts are in a froth over is “Agenda 21”, a United Nations framework for sustainable development. Insane tinfoil hat advocate Glenn Beck recently bought a manuscript from some moonbat in Pennsylvania, threw his name on the cover, and now all sorts of morons who can’t think for themselves about anything, let alone invest a little time in researching  the actual document and its history are going on about how there’s some massive insidious plot by the United Nations to “take over” the United States, which is ludicrous (to say nothing of impossible).

Agenda 21 was a very broad conceptual framework for sustainability, that is, the responsible use of resources in order to deal with a growing population that risks outstripping the potential of the planet to support it. The critical aspects of Agenda 21 are pretty simple. It’s not binding on any signatory. Its main thrust actually is on building networks of NGOs, community groups, and national governments to share ideas, technology, etc. It aims to improve use of land, water, forests, etc, all those things which are critical to our survival as a species, particularly as the planet gets more crowded.

The criticisms, where they are coherent, suggest that it amounts to an assault on national sovereignty, which is not a new criticism of the United Nations among the John Birch Society set, though this is ludicrous since national sovereignty is trumpeted is paramount by the UN (one of two things that are, the other being territorial integrity), and that it is an assault on private property. The only way I can make sense of this is that Agenda 21 talks a lot about using zoning rules and taxation to prevent concentration of land wealth, which I don’t find manifestly evil given how land rights have been a source of so many problems around the world. The anti-Agenda 21 types don’t strike me as land barons, though. They, like most supporters of this sort of nonsense, strike me as more likely to live on an over-mortgaged trailer on leased land, though that’s obviously an exaggerated stereotype. But I have to wonder what the overlap is between those who’d scream bloody murder over someone having the audacity to use eminent domain to build a bike path on their land (yes, one of those exists) and those who’d be open to happy to see eminent domain used to build the Keystone XL pipeline, a topic of more ridiculous controvery.

It’s a fact that cannot be argued in any reasonable way that we depend on a myriad of scarce resources, and that the growth of the population, ignoring other variables, means that there’s a likelihood of conflict eventually coming over those resources, and it’s that rather basic calculus that drove Agenda 21 (which was produced at the Rio Summit in 1992). Overlay that simple math with things like the impact of climate change (which of course these folks dispute, even though there’s no actual controversy) on things like food production, water consumption patterns, migration, etc. As an aside, I’m sick of people saying “but temperatures haven’t risen…”, because that’s an aggregate assessment, and ignores changes at a regional level which are what actually matter. I’m sick of this red herring.

I guess when you can sell books to idiots by just slapping your name on it, you run with whatever ridiculous conspiracy you can find and buy. Add to that Glenn Beck’s recent ridiculous chalkboard session in which he concludes, among other things, that he must “teach critical thinking”, the very process which would blow all the bullshit he spews out of the water, and I have to start wondering what the fate of the world is. These people need to be identified, ridiculed, marginalized. It’s not a pretty reality in some ways, but all this sort of nonsensical screed does is shift debate away from actual, real, relevant, vital issues.

And there’s no shortage of those. But before this gets too ridiculous, I’d better just cut it off.