Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Liberal Mind at Work

Two excellent articles concerning the inability of the liberal mind to face facts and set reasonable priorities caught my eye today.

Time Fights Carbon Emissions; Military Fights Evil

By Dennis Prager April 22, 2008 RealClearPolitics

The state of the liberal mind is on display on this week's cover of Time magazine.

The already notorious cover takes the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines planting the American flag on Iwo Jima and substitutes a tree for the flag. Why Time's editors did this explains much about contemporary liberalism.

The first thing it explains is that liberals, not to mention the left as a whole, stopped fighting evil during the Vietnam War. As I wrote in my last column, whereas liberals had led the fight against Nazism before and during World War II, and against Communism after the War, the liberal will to fight Communism, the greatest organized evil of the post-War world, collapsed during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War did to American liberals what World War I did to most Europeans -- it rendered them anti-war rather than anti-evil.

That is why liberals have gone AWOL in the fight against Islamic totalitarianism. As during the post-Vietnam Cold War, when liberals fought anti-Communists much more than they fought Communists, they fight anti-Islamists much more than they fight Islamists. Thus, Democrats routinely dismiss the Bush administration's talk about the threat of Islamic terror as "scare tactics."

But -- and this is a primary reason for Time's cover -- liberals know that they have largely opted out of the fight against Islamists; their only passion on this matter is abandoning the war against Islamists in Iraq. But like nearly all people who believe in a cause, they know that they have to fight some evil -- after all, the world really seems threatened by something. So they have channeled their desire to fight threats to the world to fighting an enemy that will not hurt them or their loved ones -- man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

It is much easier to fight global warming than to fight human evil. You will be celebrated at Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the BBC and throughout the media world, no one will threaten your life, there are huge grants available to scientists and others who fight real or exaggerated environmental problems, and you may even receive an Academy Award and the Nobel Peace Prize. Individuals who fight Islamists get fatwas.

The Time cover is cheap heroism. It is a liberal attempt to depict as equally heroic those who fight carbon emissions and those who fought Japanese fascists and Nazis.

Second, for much of the left, the cover reflects the primacy of environmental concerns over moral concerns. For example, the left seemed never to care about the millions of Africans who continued to die from malaria largely because of the environmentalists' worldwide ban on the use of DDT as pesticide. The same holds true for another leftwing environmentalist fantasy. Changing corn into biofuels is causing a surge in food prices throughout the world. The European Union continues this policy despite warnings even from some environmentalists that food shortages, starvation and food riots are imminent. But human suffering is not as significant as environmental degradation.

Third, the left is far more internationalist -- global, if you will -- in its orientation than national. As the Time article states, "Going green: What could be redder, whiter and bluer than that?" Whereas, for most Americans patriotism remains red, white and blue, for much of the left it is green.

Fourth, the further left you go, the more inclined you are to hysteria. From the threat of DDT to the threat of heterosexual AIDS in America to that mass killer secondhand smoke, the left believes and spreads threats that, unlike the threat of Islamic terror, really are "scare tactics."

Years from now, Time's cover will be regarded as another silly media-induced fear. But, as with Time's 1974 article warning its readers about "another ice age" and its many articles on the threat of heterosexual AIDS in America, Time will just let public amnesia deal with credibility problems. Until then, however, one fact remains: Today, conservatives fight evil and liberals fight carbon emissions. That's what this week's cover of Time is about.

And an excerpt to remind us of other, liberal-driven, environmental disasters:
The Truths Shall Set You Free
By Iain Murray 4/22/2008 American Spectator (Excerpt)

"About a year ago, I became convinced that the global warming debate was going the way of other environmental issues during the past 40 years. Dissenting voices were being silenced as America hurtled toward more laws, regulations, and bureaucratic control -- which, "informed" opinion makers insist, are the only solutions allowed to any problems global warming might bring.

Sadly, this pattern has repeated time and again on a wide array of environmental issues since the 1960s, when the lawyers of the nascent Environmental Defense Fund began lobbying for local, then national, and then international bans on the pesticide DDT. The results in virtually every case have been disastrous: significant losses of both liberty and prosperity and, in some cases, environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

That's why I wrote my book, The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About -- Because They Helped Cause Them. I wanted to show how the preferred response of command-and-control is precisely the wrong way to address environmental problems. In a very literal sense, the truths can set you free.

I wanted to warn people about the disastrous effects of biofuel policies around the world, and now events have justified my concern far more than I ever imagined. For years, biofuels were a bit player in the farm subsidies game, a losing proposition that politicians kept going to curry favor with the farm lobby.

Then, as concern over global warming began to heat up, biofuels came to be seen as an easy solution to loud calls on the political left to decarbonize the nation's energy supply. Left-liberal politicians did an about-face. Once seen as a political sweetheart deal, government mandating use of ethanol in gasoline and subsidizing its production became a vital component in the fight against global warming.

Yet all the world's various biofuels laws have done is to force industries to burn food as fuel. This has precipitated food shortages and massive increases in food prices around the world. There have been food riots in Indonesia, Mexico, Egypt, and most recently, Haiti -- where the poor have been reduced to eating cakes made with bleach and are on the verge of bringing the government down. Even in America, some grocery stores have begun to institute a form of rationing.

Meanwhile, massive tracts of rainforest are being cleared in Indonesia to produce biodiesel, threatening the orangutan and other magnificent animals with extinction. In Brazil, the growth of sugar cultivation for ethanol is forcing food producers into the Amazon. Little of this would have happened without the demands for less carbon-intensive energy from the environmental movement. Now they've let the genie out of the bottle.

THIS RESULT WAS inevitable given the model, which was first used in the campaign to ban DDT. There certainly was a minor problem with egg shell thinning in large predatory birds caused by mass agricultural use of DDT.

But in response, Rachel Carson, whom Al Gore cites as an inspiration, wrote a treatise, Silent Spring, which was the 1962 equivalent of a Michael Moore documentary -- loose with the facts and strong on hyperbole. While she didn't call for an outright ban on DDT, her followers demonized the product so much that the resulting ban can be attributed to Carson's book.

There were several effects in the U.S., not least the loss of the noble American elm tree, which was saved from Dutch Elm Disease only by DDT; its replacements simply weren't up to the job.

Internationally, the consequences have been much worse. Millions of Africans have perished from malaria, a disease that could have been well nigh eradicated long ago given judicious use of DDT. If you want to hear a true silent spring, go to the playground of a Ugandan orphanage in April.

The list goes on.

In the United States, restrictive forest management laws have led to a wildfire crisis. While Yellowstone National Park was being reduced to ash in 1988, park rangers and forest service officials were debating whether a fire caused by lightning striking a transmission line was natural or man-made, so as to decide whether they could put it out or not. Recent fires in California and throughout the West have been exacerbated by similarly absurd policies.

Then there's the Endangered Species Act, an approach so fundamentally wrong-headed to protecting rare animals and plants that it makes the value of a landowner's property go down when a rare species is discovered on it because the federal government then restricts the land's use.

Guess what the result is? A practice grimly known as "shoot, shovel, and shut up" is now common among landowners fearing loss of the use of their land. (The ESA was mercilessly parodied on The Simpsons as the "Rollback of Freedoms Act.")"

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At 4:15 AM, Blogger Ed Darrell said...

"For example, the left seemed never to care about the millions of Africans who continued to die from malaria largely because of the environmentalists' worldwide ban on the use of DDT as pesticide."

A whole lotta projection going on there!

It's the right that wrote off Africa. If we consider the environmental organizations that have been fighting malaria in Africa for 50 years as left, then the simple fact is they have always "been there."

Malaria can't be poisoned away. Rachel Carson warned that mosquitoes would become resistant to DDT, and by 1965, the "successful" DDT poisoning programs in Africa had ceased being effective.

The larger problem was getting governments stable enough to do the work. Again, it is the left that has campaigned for 50 years to get aid to fix that problem.

Ironically, modest, indoor spraying of DDT to fight malaria has been delayed for nearly a decade in Africa because the Bush administration refused to spend the money the liberal Congress appropriated for the task. Environmental Defense, the organization that first sued to stop DDT spraying in the U.S., pleaded with AID to allow DDT spraying in Africa.

The Bushies have finally relented.

Did Prager ever study history?

At 4:53 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

You can muddle the facts and try to blame the Bush Administration all you want, but the facts remain that left-wing groups around the world, hysterical over Rachel Carson's book, forced the end of DDT use, which has now been reinstated by the WHO. Several million people died because of that action.

By the way, why are tax payers in the USA responsible for spraying in other countries?


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