Lord Monckton Runs Away

Twitter can be a cruel place, as “climate expert” and laughing stock Lord Monckton found out yesterday to his cost. Monckton is a British climate change denier, and makes a very good living from it. He is largely ignored in his own country, but it seems America and Australia provide more fertile ground for his brand of “science”, and no doubt his posh accent and title give him added credibility in those places.

Monckton is very important to climate change denialists – they seem to think that he adds credibility to their cause. And he is widely celebrated in the right-wing blogosphere.

Yesterday (31st January) I was alerted to the fact that Monckton had arrived on Twitter. He’d clearly been ill-advised – unlike the rightwing press and blogosphere, Twitter is a place that can bite back. No doubt Monckton was expecting an adoring welcome from his fans – and no doubt he got one. But this would have been at least matched by those who are less friendly to his “cause”.

You see, the great Lord is renowned to be a twister of facts. Furthermore, he makes an extremely good living by being the mouthpiece for climate change denial; a living he protects fiercely. For example, he is reported to have earned $20,000 (Australian) for a recent Australian tour.

Which is good work if there are people dumb enough to pay for it. But more serious, from a factual point of view, are questions about whether money from the fossil fuel industry finds its way into Monckton’s wallet. DeSmogBlog.com reports that Monckton is listed by the “free-market” think-tank The Heartland Institute as a “Global Warming Expert”. The article points out that this organisation has received over $791,000 from ExxonMobil, and that sponsors of its 2009 “Climate Change Conference” had received over $47 million from oil and right-wing interests, making it anything but an impartial scientific body.

Now, Lord Monckton is renowned for silencing his critics by issuing libel writs, so let me make clear at this stage that I have no idea whether the allegations I’ve linked to above are true or false. So you can imagine my delight when I was informed that I could now question him publicly on Twitter, and find out for myself.

I began by warmly welcoming him aboard: It’s nice to see oil-funded climate “expert” @LordMonckton on Twitter. Welcome! More info here: http://bit.ly/ifbS2B – providing a link to a DeSmogBlog.com article about him.

To my great delight, he swiftly responded to me, stating: I am not, nor ever have been, funded by the fossil fuel industry. At last! A chance for Monckton to set the record straight. I realised that he was denying direct funding, so I wondered about indirect funding. I asked Have you ever worked for a body that is oil-funded?

The next reply was somewhat puzzling. Rather than a straight “No”, he said: I have never “worked” (by which I assume u mean f/t employment) for an #oil funded body

This is an interesting definition of the word “worked”. In other words, he could work weekends and evenings, or even four days a week, for an oil-funded body. But so long as he isn’t working full-time for them, he considers that not worth mentioning. My question had clearly not been precise enough, and I decided to clarify: Wow – that was an evasive response. Have you ever done any work for an oil-funded body?

Amazingly, this great researcher, debater and spreader-of-truth didn’t answer! I was stunned. Could Lord Monckton be trying to hide something? Of course, some of his supporters did come to his aid:

@gopthinking said: @LordMonckton Don’t reply to that fool called @Moronwatch, he is a worthless communist!! Not worthy of ur time I assure you!!). Which gave me a warm feeling in my heart – I’m known and loved throughout the Twitterverse! But enough about me – back to Monckton.

He tweeted publicly: I grow more concerned by events in Egpt (sic) so I decided to restart the conversation, and said: You could always deny it’s happening. Works for global warming. This approach didn’t start the productive conversation I’d hoped for.

Next, at 00:32(GMT) @ionstp tweeted: hey @LordMonckton has blocked his tweets! What’s with that? Now we can’t laugh at them or him. Bummer!

I was amazed: this fighter for truth, this great and noble Lord who defends the persecuted and maligned fossil fuel business against accusations that it’s destroying the world, has shunned open debate!

And finally at 08:23(GMT) @NemesisRepublic tweeted: Oh! @LordMonckton seems to have vanished from Twitter! Should I now treasure for posterity the Tweets we exchanged?

And that was it: in a virtual puff of smoke, Monckton had vanished just as quickly as he’d arrived. No doubt, I was one of many who tried to engage in open discussion, and failed. But I’d like to think that I played some small part in the story of what must be one of the shortest-lived Twitter accounts ever.

Let’s Get Glenn Beck an Award!

(UPDATE: although nominations have flooded in, it looks like the Shorty Awards guys have suspended the Morons category, which is a shame, though I don’t really blame them acting to prevent their awards being used in this way. The count froze after Beck received 9 nominations, though you can clearly see he had many more than that.)

With only a few hours before the Shorty awards close, I hit on an idea… wouldn’t it be great if we could help Glenn Beck (Fox presenter, fascist rabble-rouser and scourge of peace and democracy) get a Shorty Award as Twitter’s top moron?

I nominated him this morning, thus creating a new Morons category; he’s already in the lead, but it would be great if he could get hundreds of votes – perhaps even a special mention at the awards ceremony!

Nominating is simple: either click here: http://shortyawards.com/glennbeck or simply copy and paste the following text and send as a tweet: I nominate @glennbeck for a Shorty Award in #morons because…

Thanks for your time – let’s show the world what we think of Beck and hate-mongers like him.

Final note – thanks to everyone who nominated me in the Politics category. I currently have 261 nominations (and counting) which I hope will assure me a place in the shortlist. If you haven’t yet nominated, there’s still time: http://shortyawards.com/moronwatch

Final final note: I apologise for plugging the Shorty Awards so hard for the past few days. It’s nearly over, and normal moron-watching continues in the mean time.

The Shorty Awards

As my Twitter followers will have noticed, I’ve been nominated repeatedly within the Politics category at the Shorty Awards, and despite myself, I’ve been getting a little excited about this. The award nominations close tomorrow (Monday) evening. At the time of writing, on Sunday lunchtime, I’ve amassed 210 nominations from my Twitter followers – for which I’m genuinely overwhelmed. I’m very grateful to those who have nominated, along with the many lovely comments accompanying the entries.

The top six nominations in each category will be short-listed for the final award ceremony; at this moment, I’ve made seventh place in the Politics category – meaning that a few more nominations should mean I go through to the next stage. If you haven’t nominated me, please take a few seconds to do so. I don’t read any great meaning into awards, nor place any great value on a trophy, but the fact that so many people have gone out of their way to feed back makes me confident that my time watching morons has been well spent. Getting short-listed will also help raise the profile of Moron Watch, meaning that my tweets reach ever further.

I was especially pleased to be told by a couple of female followers that they wanted my babies; so as an incentive to place a nomination, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a pint of semen (mostly mine).

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll have my eternal gratitude! Please nominate here: http://shortyawards.com/moronwatch

It Must Be Moron Friday

WOW! Fridays are normally nice, quiet, getting ready for the weekend kinda days. But not today. Here’s a quick summary of global moron activity for this morning

  • Egypt in lockdown – most Internet and phone services are shut down in expectation of huge demonstrations after lunchtime prayers. Reports suggest that huge amounts of people have been rounded up, and that police shootings have occurred. Wikileaks provides a timely reminder of why Egyptians hate the dictator Hosni Mubarak so much.
  • Meanwhile, in the Land Of The Free(TM), Hillary Clinton refuses to support the uprising, instead asking the dictator Mubarak to “implement reforms”, and Joe Biden says that Mubarak isn’t a dictator. Is this the same USA that hates dictators, that loves Freedom And Democracy(TM)?
  • And now to gay-hating Africa: in Uganda, a prominent gay rights activist is beaten to death with a hammer, following anti-gay incitement by politicians and media. It should be also noted that today, UK authorities plan to deport a Ugandan lesbian, who faces harassment, and perhaps even execution under a proposed law.
  • And in the UK, semi-literate semi-comical far-right group, the English Defence League, fabricates a story about one of their leaders Kevin Carroll being shot at by “Jihadists”. This is intended to stir up anger among the EDL’s moronic followers in the run-up to a demonstration in Luton on 5th February. The police report only confirms that a man complained of something being thrown against his window.
  • Finally over to Israel, which has always complained that Hamas doesn’t accept its right to exist as a state (and therefore justifies endless war). A Wikileaks cable confirms what was widely known anyway: Hamas does accept Israel, within 1967 borders.

And that’s just Friday morning… GIMME A DAMN BREAK GUYS! Please?

Arab Uprising Exposes Right-Wing Hypocrisy About Democracy

Remember 2003? How the West (well, the US and Britain) marched in to Iraq to depose the dictator Saddam Hussein and bring “democracy”? Obviously the democracy part hasn’t really bedded in yet, but overall, aren’t we Westerners nice? We spent over $1 trillion of our own hard-earned money to liberate those poor, oppressed Iraqis.

Cynics pointed out that the American/British love of “spreading freedom and democracy” (to use Bush-speak) was a little inconsistent: what about all the other Arab dictatorships? How about the central Asian dictators like Islam Karimov, America’s “friend” in Turkmenistan, who had a thing for boiling his opponents alive? And what about the fact that America has backed so many nasty dictators in the past, in Latin America and elsewhere? Perhaps most of all, what about the American/British love-in with the brutish, fundamentalist regime in Saudi Arabia (and its huge oil reserves)?

But let’s not be too cynical – didn’t America cheer (and lend a quiet hand) as the Berlin Wall fell, and then revolution after revolution swept Eastern Europe? Yes, it did. Didn’t rightwing media and politicians join the left to support the Iranian uprising after the rigged elections of 2009? Again yes.

And now here comes something just as world-changing, and probably even more genuinely spontaneous than those Eastern European uprisings: in the space of a few days first Tunisia, then Egypt, and now Yemen too, rose up against the dictators who have terrorised their populations for so long. The Arab world, so long criticised for its lack of democracy, freedom and human rights, appears to finally be finding its voice.

Of course, those rightwing commentators who cheered Bush and Blair into Iraq, who cheered the pro-democracy uprisings in Ukraine, Iran and elsewhere, are positively delighted with this turn of events. Of course!

Not.

The problem is that, while the fall of Russian or Iranian influence helps European and American interests, those Arab torturers are… well how can I say this… (it’s a little embarrassing) – defending US, European and Israeli interests in the region. So the chance of democracy in Arab countries isn’t exactly what the West wants right now… or (to be honest) ever.

So if you’re puzzled by the lack of excitement on Fox News, or your favourite “pro-freedom” media outlet, well: you have the right to be. The problems are twofold:

  1. Oil – there’s a LOT of it, especially in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Currently all this oil is controlled by moron dictators, who in turn owe their allegiance to the US.
  2. Israel relies on corrupt Arab dictators, with the help of bribes (did I say bribes? I meant aid) from the US, to prevent the Arab people lending support to the Palestinians.

What this means is that the US state and right-wing news sources are kind-of reluctant to cheer on the pro-democracy movement that’s gathering pace. of course, they don’t SAY that. What they say, or at least hint at, is that these uprisings contain… brace yourself… ISLAM! And we know (or at least indoctrinated right-wing morons know) that Islam is bad, m’kay? So the very people who scream Freedom and Democracy at every opportunity are now decidedly reluctant to support the Freedom and Democracy sweeping the very part of the world where it’s most sorely needed.

Here are some examples of how it plays out:

Far-right botox’d Muslim-hating moron Pamela Geller writes a blog post entitled Fall of secular regime in Tunisia paves way for Islamic revolution. Note how a torturing, murdering dictatorship becomes a “secular regime” and a call for democracy becomes an Islamic revolution. She says “Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was warning American officials about the dangers posed by radical Islam”. Well yeah… so the suckers send him weaponry and aid to fight the “Islamist threat” rather than try to topple him.

In a truly hilarious fence-sitting attempt to kind-of look like they support democracy, rightwing rag The National Review says in an editorial Mubarak Should Go – But Not Yet. Strange that it’s the right who accused the left of “appeasement” for opposing the toppling of Saddam, now calling for a blood-stained dictator to stay in his place.

Here at MoronWatch we wish the revolt every success. But have no doubt that US advisers are already in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel looking for ways to deflate the rage that’s now exploding through the Arab world.

Michele Bachmann – A Special Kinda Moron

It’s been suggested that Sarah Palin gets too much attention, and maybe we should all be ignoring her a bit more. I (reluctantly) agree. But nobody said anything about Michele Bachmann, a congress member for Minnesota and Tea Party spokesperson, who makes Palin look like a smart, rational human being. Bachmann came to my attention this morning after giving the Tea Party’s response to Obama’s State Of The Union address – which was well received, except by right-wing crazies.

In her response, she did a good job of trying to appear sane and informed – at least compared to previous appearances. She had a chart with red and blue bars and stuff, showing how the national debt leapt up moments after Obama took office. She forgot to mention the part about the financial system collapsing just before he took office, which was possibly dishonest, or maybe she really didn’t know (after all, it was over two years ago, and who can remember things that happened even last week?)

Anyway, I don’t want to quibble about such minor oversights. Below are a few quotes and (for real Bachmann fans) a couple of informative and stimulating video clips.

  • “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?”
  • “During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy. It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed … The government spent its wad by April 26.”
  • “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” (See video below)
  • “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”
  • “I don’t know where they’re going to get all this money because we’re running out of rich people in this country.”

You’re still here? You’re obviously a committed Bachmann fan. Some cute video clips for you…

Here, Michele points out that carbon dioxide is good for plants. This of course, is true. She doesn’t say what happens if atmospheric CO2 suddenly increases by 50% – but that’s probably not important anyway.

And here, Bachmann (who is clearly a worldly and well-travelled individual) talks about the riots of ethnic minorities in France. I thought this was about police violence towards non-whites and high youth unemployment, but apparently it’s because their welfare benefits need to increase. Oh, and she mentions that “Not all cultures are equal” – again, a reasoned, well thought-out argument.

(Not-scary-at-all Michele Bachmann photo taken from her Wikileaks page)

Oil And Morons

Oil: wherever you find it, you’ll find morons. And wherever there are morons, there are people talking crap about oil.

The History Of Oil In One Short Paragraph

In the Middle East, so much oil was lying on the surface that people have been using it in small quantities for centuries. And when in England the industrial revolution was born, coal became popular, and shipping converted from wind to coal. But some bright spark realised that oil was a more useful shipping fuel, and when WW1 broke out in 1914, the British converted the naval fleet to oil; the only problem being that there were no known oil supplies in Britain. So the jolly old Brits occupied (what are now) Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern places in order to secure an oil supply. Later, as the British Empire collapsed, the US Empire moved in to replace it. The world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, was denied democracy and put into the hands of limb-chopping Western-friendly morons. And so in 2001, 19 Arabs (of whom 16 were Saudi) flew planes into tall buildings in America… which was used an an excuse to re-invade Iraq, and while the Americans occupied Baghdad, the British occupied Basra which (not coincidentally) they had first done back in 1914. Which brings us more or less to the present day.

Addiction?

It turns out the winner in this game may actually be the loser. Easy availability and low fuel taxes have encouraged Americans to behave as if oil is forever cheap and plentiful. With 5% of the global population, the US consumes about 24% of the oil supply (about 20.6 million barrels per day, of a global total of 85 million). In contrast, European countries have taxed fuel more heavily, with the result that Europeans are far more fuel-efficient. An American uses more than double the oil a German does, and almost 12 times a Chinese person. Of course, that would be fine for Americans if oil supplies were plentiful and cheap forever…

And now here comes a perfect storm. Several things are happening simultaneously that will cause a series of increasing shocks to the oil-dependent economies unless there is intelligent, decisive action to reduce oil addiction.

  1. Oil is becoming harder and more expensive to extract. The easy supplies are already used up.
  2. The Asian, Latin American and African economies are growing much faster than the developed world, and so is their demand for oil.
  3. It may be that oil producers can no longer extract oil fast enough to reach rising demand – this idea is known as Peak Oil. While 1 and 2 above would cause a gradual rise in prices, this one could cause huge, rapid leaps in price. The only question mark is about when this happens.

It’s not as if any of this is secret. Jimmy Carter understood the addiction problem in the 1970s. Obama, in his book The Audacity Of Hope, said:

It is hard to overstate the degree to which our addiction to oil undermines our future. Without any change to energy policy, US demand for oil will jump 40% in 20 years. Over the same period, worldwide demand will jump 30%.

A large portion of the $800 million we spend on foreign oil every day goes to some of the world’s most volatile regimes. And there are the environmental consequences. Just about every scientist outside the White House believes climate change is real.

We cannot drill our way out of the problem. Instead of subsidizing the oil industry, we should end every single tax break the industry currently receives and demand that 1% of the revenues from oil companies with over $1 billion in quarterly profits go toward financing alternative energy research and infrastructure.

Of course, this is easier to write when you’re not President. The oil industry wields real power in the Land Of The Free – probably more than the President does.

Morons In Denial

The oil industry, sensing a threat, denies that peak oil is near. An admission would prompt a rush to invest in green energy, which would limit future oil profits. (Similarly, admission of man-made climate change would lead to a collapse in oil profits which is why it invests so much money in denialist propaganda). From the twisted world view of big oil, a few decades of profits prior to global economic collapse are worth it.

America’s moron politicians, many funded by big oil, repeat the lie. And most Americans, tricked into leaving urban areas for the open spaces of exurbia in previous decades, are addicted to their cars, many facing ruin if the cost of fuel rises substantially. Together, big oil, many politicians and most consumers continue to wish the problem away.

Every small bump in the oil price prompts an eruption of tweets from morons, trying to apportion blame. They blame Obama, China, terrorism. They need to know that the problem is a temporary one and can be fixed. What they can’t accept is that oil prices will rise, and rise and rise, never reaching a stable peak but accelerating, until the world finally invests in sustainable alternatives to oil. Osama bin Laden is recorded as saying that a $200/barrel oil price would wreck America’s economy – his strategy is to provoke US wars, causing instability, costing America money and pushing up oil prices. America under the neo-cons seems to have gone along with this plan.

The oil industry, of course, says that the solution is to drill more. Moron politicians, led by Sarah “Drill, Baby, Drill” Palin take up the cry. And morons, desperate for a solution that doesn’t involve them reducing their fuel usage, scream at Obama to do so. More drilling can only postpone finding a solution, leading to an even greater crash when domestic oil fails to meet demand.

Moronic “just keep burning oil” messages can be seen on blogs such as Fausty’s. In one amusing post, he trumpets a “fall” in the oil price, posting a graph that shows the price of Brent Crude dropping from $97.6 to $97.2 (that’s a fall?!). Morons like this attribute every rise to “speculation” and every fall to “common sense”. Judging from the continual rise, there must be a lot more speculation than common sense… see this chart for the long-term trend.

And Now?

America needs a huge plan of re-urbanisation (cities are far more fuel-efficient places than suburbs and exurbs). But that would require political consensus, which would require that moron politicians (primarily but not exclusively Republicans) stop taking oil money and turn their back on the oil industry’s lies. It would also hurt the war industry, who would much rather spend $1 trillion on a war for Iran’s oil than spend $1 trillion on becoming the world leader in renewable energy. Will America make the change in time? Maybe, but not without removing corporate power from government. Perhaps it’s already too late for America to avoid an oil-price-induced depression. In that case, all the rest of the world can do is try to insulate themselves from America’s coming oil crash.