Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poem of the Day: St. Patrick's Day Edition

Brief historical background: Eamon de Valera was an Irish revolutionary and, later, a President of Ireland; Áras an Uachtaráin is the official residence of the President of Ireland and a symbol of Irish nationalism; Diarmaid and Gráinne are a pair of mythical Irish lovers.

Making Love outside Áras an Uachtaráin

When I was a boy, myself and my girl
Used bicycle up to the Phoenix Park;
Outside the gates we used lie in the grass
Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.

Often I wondered what de Valera would have thought
Inside in his ivory tower
If he knew we were in his green, green grass
Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.

Because the odd thing was--oh how odd it was--
We both revered Irish patriots
And we dreamed our dreams of a green, green flag
Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.

But even had our names been Diarmaid and Gráinne
We doubted de Valera's approval
For a poet's son and a judge's daughter
Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.

I see him now in the heat-haze of the day
Blindly stalking us down;
And, levelling an ancient rifle, he says "Stop
Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin."

-- Paul Durcan
(Text taken from here.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

"I would have things as they were in all the days of my life... But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught"

Via, we have more confirmation that belief in global warming is going down, centered in self-identified Republicans, i.e. that a straightforward scientific question -- for which, and let there be no mistake about this, the evidence is overwhelming -- has become a partisan issue. Peter Daou rants:
This isn't about good faith questioning of science, much as these naysayers pretend it is. It isn't about genuine skepticism, much as they want to believe it is. There is no moral imperative underlying their belief (or lack thereof). It's about unbridled hostility at the suggestion that we must all make shared sacrifices. It's about refusing to acknowledge that the environmental movement has been right to sound the alarm. It's about laziness. And greed. And irresponsibility. And colossal shortsightedness. Forget about the tragedy of the commons, this is the abject and gleeful refutation of common sense. Green-bashing exposes the rot at the core of modern conservatism.
And he's right, of course. It's about greed, for the companies that are manufacturing lie-based doubt like it was coca-cola, sugar-water to increase their profit margin. But for the public at large, it's about partisanship.

And that's the problem. The conservative movement has become a quivering mass of resentment for most of its base (ridden by the greed-driven big-shots who hope to use it to grab more wealth for themselves).* If the democrats believe something, then they'll disbelieve it, even if the science is overwhelming and clear. (Some of this is conscious rejection of pointy-headed egg-heads; more of it, probably, is listening to deceitful propaganda on Fox &c.) They won't admit it's true because admitting its truth would require admitting the necessity of government intervention, the importance of science... and, ultimately, the rot of the conservative movement.

The fact that it's become a partisan issue is what will doom us. Because a huge minority of the most powerful country (and biggest greenhouse-gas-polluter) in the world -- a huge minority in a country where even a small minority can block meaningful political change -- would literally rather destroy the world than admit that liberals and scientists are right or that government is necessary.

They want it to be false, so their lives can be unchanged. And if that's not possible, they'll pile the world on a pyre and light a match.

(Title from J. R. R. Tolkien's Denthor. Older rants on a similar subject can be read here and here.)

* Note that this has now even been admitted by the Republican National Committee itself, who divide their base into "visceral" givers motivated by "reactionary" feelings and "fear", and "calculated" givers who are motivated by "ego" and "access". -- Admitted, of course, in a private document that they are now disavowing: if you're playing on peoples' fear and egos, you have to pretend you're not for it to work.