Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

GW Bush: Delusional idiot, or psychopathic liar?

I realize they aren't mutually exclusive, but I'm leaning toward more of the latter than the former. The point is, I don't know for sure whether he believes in the alternate universe represented in his public pronouncements -- most recently his triumphalist crowing on the fifth anniversary of his world historic crime of invading Iraq -- or whether he knows it's all fantasy and he just figures that when George W. Bush lies, it's not a sin, because he's God's anointed.

That is the lede to a rambling post today, and the reason you're getting this, and didn't get one yesterday, is because of traveler's burnout. Honestly, I don't know how the candidates do it, constantly changing time zones, eating too much or too little and usually badly, sleeping erratically, but having to keep working and stay alert through it all -- it's just too much for a hairless ape from the African savannah to endure.

Anyway, I don't do a lot of blogospheric meta-analysis, but one of the obvious differences between progressive and wingnut bloggers is that the portside doesn't jump all over stuff that isn't well established. For example, you might have thought that the Duke lacrosse team allegations would have wound up burning a lot of us with it's juicy low hanging fruit of apparent elitism, racism and sexism but in fact, most everybody steered clear of it, or discussed it only in the hypothetical, because we believe in the presumption of innocence. Good move. (BTW, this is the first time I have ever mentioned it.)

We all know how different it is over to starboard, where the leading ranters have repeatedly spewed firehoses of venom over stuff that turned out to be not actually true. Even when their material is discredited, they keep talking about it because what the hell, it should have been true. I'm sure you can think of plenty of examples -- Obama attended a fudamentalist Muslim madrassa in Indonesia, numerous instances in which they "found the Weapons of Mass Destruction™" in Iraq, Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria was treasonous -- even though a Republican delegation had met with Assad two days earlier -- etc. and so on and so forth.

So, in case you're wondering why I haven't written about certain subjects you probably think are naturals here, it's because there just isn't enough information yet to say anything meaningful. But it occurs to me that the fact of lacking information is information, so let me comment on a couple of items in the news.

First there are those pharmaceuticals in the water supply. For better or for worse, we now have the ability to detect extremely low levels of chemicals in water -- a few parts per billion, even parts per trillion. What that means, basically, is that just about anything you can think of looking for, you will find. Whether the levels of Prozac and Zantac and Claritin-d the AP found in municipal water are of any biological significance whatsoever, to human or beast, is not absolutely certain but I would classify it as highly doubtful. We'll reserve judgment on this, but not lose sleep over it. In semi-contradiction to my assessment above, there are some environmentalists who get a bit trigger happy and over the top on stuff like this, the Natural Resources Defense Council being one example I can think of. I'd say that as far as environmental concerns are concerned, we've got bigger fish to deplete.

Next there's that allergenic heparin that might have something to do with bad oversight of raw material suppliers in China. It might. Or it might not. And if it does, it might be indicative of a more widespread problem or it might just be an oddity. So I'm again witholding judgment. I will say, however, that it's unlikely to be a sign of a big problem because pharmaceutical manufacturers are generally buying specific chemical compounds and assessing their purity. The contaminant in this case was very hard to detect, is also very hard to explain and nobody actually knows how it got into the heparin. So we still don't know what happened or whether it had anything to do with China at all.

If there's any larger point to all this it's that the latest news isn't necessarily very important, whereas stuff that's just still going on and therefore isn't big news might be very important. We have a bias against being concerned about problems that are familiar and of long standing, one that is powerfully reinforced by the habits of the corporate media. We need to resist that.

1 comment:

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