the Rosemary’s Baby of American conservatism.

Every day, LI says bad things about the Bush administration. Today, we are going to say something good about the administration. Good, that is, from the point of view of philosophical clarification. For it has struck us more and more strongly that the Bush administration is the Rosemary’s Baby of American conservatism. This is what it was all always about, all the ritual, all the preparation.

For sixty years, American politics, on the ideological level, has been a rigged fight between frauds. The right wing fraud went under the mask of wanting “smaller government.” The left wing fraud went under the mask of supporting “working families.” In actuality, there was no side that wasn’t for big government. The argument was really about the bonds between big government and its partners. For the most part, the right’s preferred partners were in the petro-chemical industry. Both sides fought for the defense industry, and the left wing laid dibs on the unions and information technologies. There is a small, vocal sector in the public who actually wants small government (although usually, when given a taste of it, they quickly vote back in the pork), but they are so negligible that their only real purpose is to make one side of the big government-big business combination respectable. Similarly, there is a small, vocal sector standing up for working people, but their purpose was to operate as plausible defenders of the various free trade pacts that liquidated American manufacturing.

LI has been reminded, reading about the attacks launched on Rachel Carson and the environmental movement, that the first property one "owns" is one’s body. Because it is inconvenient to the petro-chemical sector, this property has not only been routinely trespassed upon, but the sense that you have some right not to be a lodging place for untested chemicals that leach out from agribusinesses, chemical factories, and a thousand and one household products has had to be dulled in the average citizen. Not to speak of the average citizen’s exchangeable property – his land, for instance. The first suits filed against DDT were filed against government sponsored flights dumping oil and DDT mixtures on private land in the name of fighting various insects. And the most ardent supporters of this kind of state activity were conservatives – in fact, Eisenhower’s secretary of agriculture, Benson, assured Eisenhower that Carson was a communist – and he was in a way right. Communism became opposing the state coalition with big business.

However, the ideological masks have, at last, left American politics a wilderness of blunderers. Interestingly, this comes at a time when two threats to the U.S. are converging. One is the increased dependence on foreign sources for oil, and one is the looming threat from global warming and the acidification of the oceans. The convergence of those threats have been met with the orgy of irrelevance that makes up most of the newspaper headlines, and all of this administration’s policy.

In the next couple of days, we are going to concentrate on Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker series, The Climate of Man, which is going into her book, to be released this month, Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

To give some sense of the material in the book, here’s a passage about the rapidly thawing permafrost zone:
“When you walk around in the Arctic, you are stepping not on permafrost but on something called the "active layer." The active layer, which can be anywhere from a few inches to a few feet deep, freezes in the winter but thaws over the summer, and it is what supports the growth of plants - large spruce trees in places where conditions are favorable enough and, where they aren't, shrubs and, finally, just lichen. Life in the active layer proceeds much as it does in more temperate regions, with one critical difference. Temperatures are so low that when trees and grasses die they do not fully decompose. New plants grow out of the half-rotted old ones, and when these plants die the same thing happens all over again. Eventually, through a process known as cryoturbation, organic matter is pushed down beneath the active layer into the permafrost, where it can sit for thousands of years in a botanical version of suspended animation. (In Fairbanks, grass that is still green has been found in permafrost dating back to the middle of the last ice age.) In this way, much like a peat bog or, for that matter, a coal deposit, permafrost acts as a storage unit for accumulated carbon.

One of the risks of rising temperatures is that this storage process can start to run in reverse. Under the right conditions, organic material that has been frozen for millennia will break down, giving off carbon dioxide or methane, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas. In parts of the Arctic, this is already happening. Researchers in Sweden, for example, have been measuring the methane output of a bog known as the Stordalen mire, near the town of Abisko, for almost thirty-five years. As the permafrost in the area has warmed, methane releases have increased, in some spots by up to sixty per cent. Thawing permafrost could make the active layer more hospitable to plants, which are a sink for carbon. Even this, though, probably wouldn't offset the release of greenhouse gases. No one knows exactly how much carbon is stored in the world's permafrost, but estimates run as high as four hundred and fifty billion metric tons.”


Brian Miller said…
Bravo, roger. How can you encapsulate things so well-the first paragraph is a fantastic summation.

Mailing address?
roger said…
Brian, my mailing address? Huh, I'll give you my email address, and send me an email. But I do not want Crofton Steelware sending me promotional materials, man!
mail me at
pz said…
Interesting, but totalitarianism now seems as prevalent on the left as the right--as in blogging wars (i.e Long Sunday and "Le Colonel" for one). Moderation of all comments, deletion, bizarre editing: that's just taken for granted. One doesn't have to be a repug. to object to the Bukharin like manipulations common to about all the leftist blogs. Any hints or reason or empiricism generally are met with scorn. Dogmatists, marxist, neo-con , postmod or other are always objectionable.
New York Pervert said…
pz--yes, precisely. They closed the comments on that thread where we were singled out for ridicule while 'les trois mousquetaires' has already completed much of her damage control, or so she thinks. That's why I said that about the MSM--both hard left and hard right think the MSM works for the other, so it's definitely where you'll find more facts than you would elsewhere. This was actually worth all the blood, because there is no way 'fonzie la rouge' was saying that as a joke, except insofar as she likes to fritter away the time with indolent sillinesses just like Marie Antoinette at her spinning wheel. But close to totalitarian, I agree. I was surprised they let me get any of my posts through, and they let Alphonse do all of her haughty fake-vicomtesse number to her heart's content.
Brian Miller said…
Excuse me for being dense. But: who are "they" (the "totalitarian" leftists)-(come on guys, we are talking about blogs here, not the stomp of jackboots in the night) and which thread and which blog?

Just curious.
roger said…
I'm not sure that comments policies translate into politics that easily.

Myself, I have a pretty tiny blog, and -- as one of my best friends has pointed out -- who do I think is going to read these posts? meaning, my topics are sometimes too esoteric for anybody to care about, and yet I'm no expert in the fields I'm talking about.

Whatever. In terms of comments, this means I am pathetically grateful for any comments. Plus, I have a dim, liberal committment to dialogue and all that shit.

On the other hand, sites like Long Sunday and the Valve -- successful, academic blogs - are sometimes astonishing in their lack of social graces, viz the comments section. This is unsurprising, if you have ever hung around academia. Profs very often are astonishing in their lack of the social graces.

That said, the recent Long Sunday shoot em up made no sense to me. What was it about? Damned if I know. I don't mind the "fake-vicomtesse number" like you do, Mr. NYP. Surely you know theater people. If LCC hasn't been on stage, I'll eat my hat.

You know, comments are an interesting measure of vanity. I make comments all the time at Crooked Timber. I think I'm casting out pure pearls. Yet 90% of the time, the comments just sink like pure lead. They aren't even interesting enough for somebody to disagree with. Now, I don't think I am totally crazy, but obviously I just don't get it in some ways -- that is, the key cliches to use, the way to create a lure. Such is life.
roger said…
ps - brian, these comments are spillover from a, I don't know what, at Long Sunday.

Not something I'd check out unless you have a lot of time to waste.

ps -- I'm having a devil of a time getting the alphabetic image right that allows you to comment here. Hope this is not happening to others.
Brian Miller said…
Hasn't been a problem to date, roger. Unless you are working behind the scenes to vett my posts??
New York Pervert said…
That thread was about Mrs. Chabert giving enough clues to out herself as a person who wants to go to war with capitalism and give everybody lessons in the evil of the ruling class while sitting on her ass and making tens of thousands of dollars daily on the currency markets and more or less saying 'well, at least I'm honest about it.' Wrong. And if you didn't read her 'TeeVee' thread and the whole Long Sunday thread about TeeVee, in which she proved 'you all watch teevee and I bought your eyeballs by making my fortune in Teevee shows and I'm now exploiting you,' then why did you even comment at all. She lost her position as bullying shrew chiefly because she thought I was some kind of NYC ally and superficial enough aesthete to be able to fool while she worked to drum up audience to condescend to. If you think that works, that's one more reason why she has tons of money and you don't--and the ladies' man number is misplaced when you don't find out the details. The IT thing was only part of it, she was being exactly what the 'colonel' said she was being but trying to have it both ways: They both were. But it was valuable what IT did, because that was when the colonel showed her true colours, and with some clever collaboration between me and Kotsko and CR, she vomited the whole vile mix of her mixture of gluttonous capitalism and desire to be some sort of rich high-office Maoist cunt. Once discovered and fully exposed, she tried to regain territory today, but she has really no following except on the hardcore Commie blogs like Lenin's Tomb and Qlipoth, where she and warszawa cuss out people at huge length every chance they get in order to prove that 9/11 was an inside job.

OF COURSE you don't mind the fake vicomtesse number. It's the NYTimes you mind. Never mind that they get the news right at least some of the time, and that the TeeVee Woman just uses what news amuses her desire which, as Didion described in the White Album (well, you read German, that was one of my posts they put in either German, Russian, Cockney, white trash, or niggertalk, the pansey Commie fucks.)
Anonymous said…
oh, do grow up.
Brian Miller said…
Anonymous: blog comments control/over-moderation = totalitarianism. :)
pz said…
Yes, a currency trader and lover of opera who finds time out of her busy schedule to write some agit-prop for the Shining Path. Ms. Fonze tho certainly has talent as hotsexxsy appeal however deluded. If see showed some nipple once in a while she might be taken seriously.

But worse than Col. Fonze is Matt Khristski, LS's own dylanesque Bukharin: he's the schlmiel doing the moderatin,' tho I imagine Comrade Dean (as in Joe) assists
pz said…
ScuZi hasty edit.