Thursday, April 03, 2008

Read From the Left

Two new books deconstruct the arguments from the right that have distorted our national discourse on two important topics: science and politics.

"Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health" (Oxford University Press, 2008) by David Michaels.

From the author himself, writing at The Pump Handle:

In Doubt, I recount how the strategy of manufacturing uncertainty was pioneered by the tobacco industry. Clearly successful, it has been adopted by the asbestos, beryllium, chromium, and pesticide industries, among others, and it is the strategy used by global warming deniers. There are few industries that haven’t tried it - Andrew Dressler at Grist has a new piece on how the Indoor Tanning Association is trying to convince the public that “there is actually no evidence linking sun exposure with cancer.” (I talk about that in my book, too.)

"Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics" by Glenn Greenwald:

From the time I began blogging in October, 2005, I've written about many different topics, but almost all have a similar undercurrent: the Limbaugh/Kristol/Fox-News right-wing faction that controls the Republican Party and has dominated our political life for the last 15 years, and the multiple ways that our political institutions -- and particularly the Drudgified establishment press -- enable them. Marketing packages aside, this book is about them; how they function; the weakness-driven bloodthirstiness, dishonesty and sleaze which defines them; the indispensable eagerness of the establishment media to be used by them; and what can be done by those opposed to them to change all of that.

All of the radical and reprehensible events of the last eight years -- the commencement and endless prosecution of an indescribably disastrous war, the accelerated dismantling of our Constitutional framework, the creation of a lawless Surveillance State and a virtually omnipotent President, the legitimization of truly grotesque torture and detention regimes, the complete corruption of our political discourse -- have individuals and a political movement behind them, causing all of that to happen. They have cultivated the ability to manipulate media behavior, largely as a result of a media eager to help. But what they do not have is popular support for virtually anything they are doing. And yet they continue to win elections.

How and why that happens -- the deceitful electoral tactics and manipulative personality-based myths the Right has perfected and continuously deploys to win elections, and the ways in which our slothful, vapid and complicit establishment press propagates those myths -- is the principal subject of this book. And understanding and exposing that right-wing/media partnership is a necessary precondition for weakening it.

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