December 6, 2008

“Clean Coal” vs. Reality

Let’s be honest – all of the ads about so-called “Clean Coal” are obviously biased and fronted by the coal industry; they claim their technology is incredibly clean, but only compared to technology that’s 50 years or more old, and they claim that they’re making strides towards clean air when out of the other side of their mouths they beg the EPA for a pass on actually implementing clean coal technology because of its cost. When they’re mandated to or forced to by local or regional governments because of air quality standards, they’d rather spend more money in protracted legal battles than they would actually spend on cleaning up their plants.

For example, the coal industry discusses how they’re all about carbon sequestering, but the fact is that not a single American home is powered by a coal-fired plant that sequesters its carbon. And similarly, what the coal industry won’t tell you is that they’re responsible for at least a third of America’s global carbon footprint. If that’s “clean,” I’d hate to see dirty.

The Reality Coalition, a collaborative project from the Alliance for Climate Protection, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club, and The We Campaign, is out to debunk the myths being perpetuated by the coal industry with a new site called This Is Reality.

[ This Is Reality ]
Source: The Reality Campaign

There is No “War on Christmas”

It’s the holidays again, which means that even rational and level-headed people will get caught up in this whole “War on Christmas” nonsense that’s whipped up every year by religious-right activists who would rather see Jewish and Muslim children forced to observe their holidays in silence than share the stage with people who may have different beliefs.

For example, one senator (Chris Buttars (R-UT) – that’s right, Utah, figures) is actually championing a resolution that would codify “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays.” Effectively, there’s no “War on Christmas,” there’s a “War for Christmas,” waged by religious conservatives who are so afraid of different beliefs that they feel somehow threatened. Even though Christians are the vast majority in America, the fear of the secular, deist society that the founding fathers wanted terrifies them so much that they want to hurry up and bridge the critical divide between church and state so they can impress their beliefs on even the minority that doesn’t share them.

This isn’t news to regular readers – I’ve written about it several times, including once back at the old Pleasant Tingle, several years ago. But this time there’s an opportunity to do something.

The non-partisan religious group Faithful America, dedicated to keeping faith as a personal and private matter and out of government where it can be imposed on others by the whim of the majority, has started a petition to make a statement about this early. The petition says:

In this time of national crisis, elected officials, media figures and religious leaders should be concentrating on the real challenges facing this country’s families, not bickering over holiday greetings.

With a record number of Americans now on food stamps and thousands being foreclosed on every month, we urge you to refocus your efforts to make sure these basic human needs are met.

Help for those most in need is much closer to the true spirit of the holiday than saying the words “Merry Christmas.”

Click below to sign the petition:

[ “War on Christmas” is Not the Answer ]
Source: Faithful America

A New Sexual Agenda: 9 Ways to Halt the Right Wing Culture Wars and Bring Sanity to Sexual Policy

While I don’t think David Rosen’s suggestions would really halt the culture wars (if anything, it might anger the far-right more), I definitely think his suggestions are solid and we should move towards them as soon as possible. When the conservatives took control of the Congress and the White House, they made every attempt possible to criminalize sex and sexuality and punish anyone who dared speak openly about it; there’s a lot of work required to undo the damage.

From safeguarding Roe v. Wade to ending abstinence-only sex education and getting religion out of our classrooms for good, Rosen’s ideas would bring us up to speed to a real, solid, fact-and-evidence based sexual policy and bring some sanity to the way America deals with sex and sexuality. Maybe then the rest of the world (excluding super-religious states like those in the Middle East, of course) will stop laughing at us for being essentially a nation whose sexual policy is descended from the Puritans who fled from Europe because they couldn’t deal with anyone who differed from them.

[ A New Sexual Agenda: 9 Ways to Halt the Right Wing Culture Wars and Bring Sanity to Sexual Policy ]
Source: CounterPunch

Enough of ‘Barbituate’ Left Cynicism, Obama Is a Victory over White Supremacy

Ah, the “Barbituate Left.” This piece resonated with me, because while normally I would say there’s no such thing as “too far left,” there are definitely people farther left than I am who, at the very inkling of compromise and common progress, start frothing at the mouth and complaining about how, for example, “democrats and republicans are all the same,” and so on. They fail to see incrimental progress when it happens, and they like to get into mindless shouting matches with conservatives of equal far-flingedness. For example:

Now, in the wake of Barack Obama’s victory these barbiturate leftists are back in full effect, lecturing the rest of us about how naive we are for having any confidence whatsoever in him, or for voting at all, since “the Democrats and Republicans are all the same,” and he supports FISA and the war with Afghanistan, and all kinds of other messed up policies just like many on the right. Those of us who find any significance in the election of a man of color in a nation founded on white supremacy are fools who “drank the kool-aid,” unlike they, whose clear-headed radical consciousness leads them to recognize the superior morality of Ralph Nader, or the pure “scientific wisdom of chairman Bob Avakian,” or the intellectual profundity of their favorite graffiti bomb: “If voting changed anything it would be illegal.” Yeah, and if body piercings and anarchy tats changed anything, they would be too, and then what would some folks do to be “different?” (Note: there is nothing wrong with either type of adornment, but getting either or both doesn’t make you a revolutionary, any more than voting, that’s all I’m saying).

These are people who think being agitators is about pissing people off more than reaching out to them. So they pull out their “Buck Fush” signs at their repetitively irrelevant antiwar demonstrations, or their posters with W sporting a Hitler mustache, because that tends to work so well at convincing folks to oppose the slaughter in Iraq. But effectiveness isn’t what matters to them. What matters to them is raging against the machine for the sake of rage itself. Their message is simple: everything sucks, the earth is doomed, all cops are brutal, all soldiers are baby-killers, all people who work for corporations are evil, blah, blah, blah, right on down the line

Interestingly enough, a number of people with the same attitudes exist not just on the left, but on the right and in the Libertarian camp, which depending on the person’s perspective on social and moral issues can simultaneously reside on both sides.

Tim Wise goes on to discuss exactly how Obama’s victory is not just a victory for America but also a victory against white supremacy that’s sent their community reeling and scrambling to recruit anyone on the right who might be both a: white and b: despondent about losing an election. He points out that the same way the far right has a cencer in it that they’ve managed to allow take control of their party, so does the left – and if there’s anything to learn from conservatives, it’s to not, by any costs, allow them to set the American progressive agenda – it’s exactly what those on the right are hoping for.

[ Enough of ‘Barbituate’ Left Cynicism, Obama Is a Victory over White Supremacy ]
Source: AlterNet

10 Myths Conservatives Believe About Progressives

If I had a dollar for how many times I’ve heard some of the same old lies from my conservative friends about how I, as a progressive who’s not afraid of the label “liberal” must think, I’d be a very wealthy man. That being said, it’s still remarkable how much some conservatives misunderstand what it means to be patriotic, what’s in America’s best security interests (instead of throwing money and manpower at defense and border crossings – namely what it means to work smarter, not harder), and exactly what a free market really means (even though some of them are coming around thanks to this year’s global economic recession).

From “liberals hate America” to “liberals are elitists,” “liberals hate our troops,” and “liberals don’t believe in family values,” all of the lies are on display in Sara Robinson’s fabulous dissertation that comes just in time for the holidays; right around the time when you might have to go home and sit at dinner with a conservative family member who – like many – are bullish about imposing their beliefs and opinions on everyone else as all that’s true and right in the world.

For example, let’s tackle the “liberals don’t believe in personal responsibility” myth, that’s taken root for the past several years:

Liberals don’t believe in personal responsibility.

Again, there’s a definitional disconnect at work here. Conservatives tend to use the rule of law to enforce traditional morality and social hierarchies, which usually means light treatment for those at the top, and harsh penalties for those at the bottom. Liberals tend to use the rule of law to maintain some semblance of fairness and equality, which means that those who have more should be given sentences proportional to their greater wealth and power; and those with less should be given a more gentle hand. Naturally, each side finds the other side’s reasoning and criteria appalling.

But there is common ground. The bare fact—which everybody at the table may agree on—is that in present-day America, nobody is happy with the way justice is being doled out, and people all over are getting away with things no civilized nation should allow to slide by. Absurd leniency abounds on both sides. You can either argue over whose side is getting the worst of it; or you can simply agree that the system is broken all over, and move on to the pumpkin pie.

For more myths and how to debunk them at the holiday dinner table, head on over to the full article.

[ 10 Myths Conservatives Believe About Progressives ]
Source: Campaign for America’s Future Blog