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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Why we still fight

by digby

Since it's Holiday Fundraising time it seems like a good day to revisit a post I wrote a few years back about what blogging is and why I do it. Some of it is outdated now --- things have moved on, politics have changed in many ways. But my underlying philosophy still holds:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Why I Fight 
by digby 

I have not had time to really get into Jonathan Chait's cover story in this weeks New Republic but I will write something more about it soon. In the meantime, I did find these paragraphs intriguing in light of something else I read this morning:
...because they convey facts and opinions about the news to their readers, bloggers associated with the netroots are often mistaken for journalists. That is, as reporter Garance Franke-Ruta (who covers the blogs) has put it, a "category error." This was thrown into stark relief earlier this year, when John Edwards hired Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, two bloggers who were prominent in the netroots. The pair quickly came under enough fire for past controversial blog posts--Marcotte, for example, had speculated, "What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?"--that the Edwards campaign decided to cut them loose. Before it announced the decision, however, Marcotte and McEwan's allies lobbied heavily on their behalf. The liberal online magazine Salon reported the firings, but the Edwards camp hunkered down and refused to release a public statement while it decided on a course of action, then denied the firings to Salon the following day. Liberal bloggers in close contact with the campaign remained resolutely cryptic about what they knew. "The bloggers closed ranks around the Edwards campaign, some even claiming that Salon had gotten the story wrong," Salon's Joan Walsh later reported. To Walsh and other journalists, the relevant metric is true versus untrue. To an activist, the relevant metric is politically helpful versus politically unhelpful.

There is a term for this sort of political discourse: propaganda. The word has a bad odor, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Propaganda is often true, and it can be deployed on behalf of a worthy cause (say, the fight against Nazism in World War II). Still, propaganda should not be confused with intellectual inquiry. Propagandists do not follow their logic wherever it may lead them; they are not interested in originality. Propaganda is an attempt to marshal arguments in order to create a specific real-world result--to win a political war.
The word propaganda is a loaded term in modern American parlance and he must know that. I don't actually think that advocacy journalism (or activist blogging) is dishonest, which is what Chait is suggesting, however vaguely. Lying or making up facts is unacceptable for people of integrity just as it is for a defense lawyer arguing for her client in a court of law, or a great political debate --- which is a much less provocative way to discuss blogging and netroots activism. I wish that Chait had provided at least one example of propaganda among the netroots besides the very vague story of Marcotte and McEwen. That is such an inside baseball process story that even if it were true, it wouldn't actually illustrate the propagandistic nature of blogging.

Liberal bloggers advocate for their political causes, people, party, ideas, etc and they make the best argument they can. The people who read us, the politicians, the electorate (to the extent that any of these arguments flow out of the sphere into the mainstream) are the judges. That is not propaganda as we understand it in 2007. I would say it's not even PR or advertising, both of which suggest some sort of message coordination of which I have also seen little evidence. The blogosphere/netroots is more of an organism that thrives on an extended 24/7 conversation and nobody knows yet how ideas are actually honed and disseminated. But the ones that come out of this seem to me to be mostly in the finest traditions of democratic and parliamentary debate, satire and humor and plain old political strategy, even if we are "vituperative" and "foul-mouthed" about it. There is very little, if any, "messaging" as we think of it in political terms. I'm not sure what Chait thinks he knows about the way we operate, but it's very, very ad hoc and viral. It's the internets not the Comintern.

Which brings me to the other thing I read today, just after glancing at the Chait article:
Hugh Hewitt: [Lawrence Wright] said absolutely, it is not the case it’s a strategic disaster. While there may be more jihadis in Iraq than there were before, it’s not like our intervention in Iraq created them, and he went on to characterize their camps in Mali, their camps in Gaza…

Michael Isikoff: Right.

HH: Their Waziristan…that they are manufacturing…they were manufactured for a decade in Afghanistan.

MI: Right.

HH: And now, they’re coming to al Anbar Province, because that’s where they can kill the great Satan. And so we’re not manufacturing them, we’re gathering them in one place…

MI: Right.

HH: And they’re surging against us. That’s a different spin. I’m not saying it’s the facts on the ground, either.

HH: ...And Michael Isikoff, what do you see, if the Democrats have their way, what do you see happening there in five years?

MI: I mean, look. If any of us could foresee the future, and knew what Iraq was going to look like down the road, we’d be better off than anybody else in Washington.

HH: But we have to guess, right? We always have to guess.

MI: We have to guess. We have to guess. I mean, we know that a lot of bad guesses were made by this administration in the invasion.

HH: Again, that’s spin.

MI: No, no, no, no, no, no. We know that.

HH: Give me a specific.

MI: They did not…a specific?

HH: Of a bad guess.

MI: Did they anticipate the sectarian warfare that was going to take place?

HH: No. Okay…

MI: Did they tell the country that there’s a high risk that we’re going to be enmeshed in a civil war in Iraq, in which thousands of Americans…

HH: Civil war is itself a spin, though.

MI: Well, what do you call it?

HH: That is a characterization…I call it an insurrection, I call it an al Qaeda surge, I call it bad militias in Baghdad.

MI: Well…

HH: But a civil war, where you’ve got Sunni and Shia…actually, the one thing Petraeus has also said…

MI: Fighting each other. Fighting each other. That’s…

HH: There are lots of definitions. It’s spin.

MI: The central argument [for war in Iraq] was weapons of mass destruction.

HH: That was Colin Powell. Again, that’s spin. Michael Isikoff, that’s spin.

I would challenge anyone to find a prominent liberal blogger as disingenuous or as bizarrely unresponsive as Hugh Hewitt is in that conversation. We joke about being the "reality based community" on the left, but it's literally true, certainly by comparison to that nonsense. The right wing denial of objective reality and the willingness to simply assert their own view that facts are liberal spin and conservative spin is factual is one of the biggest challenges the progressive movement (and the nation) faces. It has bred a cynicism and confusion that is going to be very difficult to turn around.

I didn't start blogging to deny reality or create another narrative out of whole cloth. (The bloggy jargon about "framing" and "narratives and "memes" are btw, contra Chait, just shorthand for "making a good argument", "telling our side of the story" and "ideas." They are not nefarious revolutionary propaganda terms designed to mislead.) I started blogging for the opposite reason. What I saw was a political establishment enmeshed in an extremely disorienting up-is-downism, perpetuated by a right wing machine that had used sophisticated marketing techniques, propaganda and plain old lies to completely distort our common perceptions of reality --- as Hewitt so perfectly demonstrates. Right about the time that Republicans started impeaching presidents for minor sexual indiscretions and dishonestly manipulating every lever of power they had to attain the presidency I knew politics had gone insane, not me. (And I think my judgment has been pretty well vindicated if I do say so myself.)

I try to see the world as clearly as I can because to do otherwise is to lose one's mind. I'm sure I succumb to group think from time to time and avoid writing about things I find difficult to discuss or about which I feel I have no particular insight.  I don't pretend to be entirely objective but I try to be a clear eyed person who calls it as I see it. I honestly can't understand how we can survive as a culture if we can't find a way to get past this "everything is spin" idea that Hewitt is promoting. It's the right that pushed that into the discourse and it's the netroots that are trying to unravel it and get back to some sort of common understanding of what constitutes reality.

More than anything I am interested in combating this epistemological relativism that has entered the body politic; things like the irrational dismissal of science or the insistence that cutting taxes produces more revenue or any of a thousand other assaults on reality. I can't help but be slightly insulted that my participation in the netroots movement is even being compared to such demagoguery and deviousness. I do not think we are the same animals and if the netroots become that I will no longer be a part of it.

I'm a liberal and proud of it and I think the world will be a better place if liberal policies have a greater voice and influence in the discourse. I  help Democrats since they are the only vehicle for progressive and liberal politics in our system. But more than that I want to have a culture where liberal ideas are honestly represented and rightwing lies and manipulation are seriously challenged. I do not believe that you can leave that up to some disinterested, objective seekers of truth because they proved over the course of a couple of decades that they were much too weak and gullible to challenge the conservative onslaught. So I and many others stepped up. Waiting for everyone to "see the truth" just wasn't working out (which Chait admits in his article.)

Overall, the piece is insightful in some respects and I don't mean to pick it apart. But none of this happened in a vacuum, and Chait rather scrupulously avoids delving too deeply into the rightwing's strategic mendacity. And without that you can't really understand what brought us to this place and what motivates us to move ahead. Rather than wanting to become a competing propaganda organ, I think most of us actually want to reintroduce the idea of honest political debate because we believe we will win on the merits. (Why else have the Republicans found it necessary to lie, cheat and steal to the degree they have?) The first step in doing that is to dismantle their propaganda, which is what we are doing. No one that I know of has ever suggested that we create our own.

Since that time many mainstream liberals have joined that fight against the right wing and some of them are brilliantly calling out the right wing every day. Sometimes I feel as if I'm reading liberal blog posts from 2006 when I read the op-ed pages or columns in mainstream magazines these days. And I'm glad of it! Welcome to the fray. But they were behind the curve. The much maligned bloggers were on to the right wing a long time ago. The mainstream media too ...

(And if you look closely you can see that the same forces are still behind the curve today.)

If this is the sort of thing you value in your political diet, I'd appreciate it if you could throw a little something into the kitty so that we can keep going:


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday Night At The Movies

Dennis Hartley is off this week having his knee replaced. So I'm re-running this Christmas movie post from a few years back.

Somewhat naughty and not so nice

By Dennis Hartley

Not the Coca-Cola Santa: Rare Exports

It’s official. I now have a new favorite Christmas movie. John Carpenter’s The Thing meets Miracle on 34th St. in Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, a wickedly clever Yule story that spices up the usual holiday family movie recipe by folding in generous dollops of sci-fi, horror, and Norse legend. The twist here is that our protagonist, a young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) not only believes that Santa Claus is, in fact, real, but that he is buried just beyond the back 40 of his dad’s reindeer ranch, where some American archeologists are excavating a mysterious promontory. After bizarre and troubling events begin to plague the sleepy hamlet where Pietari lives, it looks that Santa may have just been “resting”. And if this is the mythical Santa Pietari suspects, then he is more Balrog than eggnog…and is best left undisturbed.

The director also works a sly anti-consumerist polemic into his narrative. Pietra’s dad (Jorma Tommila) and his fellow reindeer hunters-who are more chagrinned that the saturnine Santa is threatening their livelihood by slaughtering all the reindeer than by the fact that he is also methodically kidnapping the village children and spiriting them away to an undisclosed location, manage to capture him, and then demand a “ransom” from the corporate weasel who, for his own nefarious reasons, is funding the archeological dig. In the meantime, a legion of Santa’s nasty little “helpers” are running amuck and wreaking havoc. Pietari, the only one keeping a cool head, just wants to enjoy a nice quiet Christmas with dad-even if he has to transform into a midget version of Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness to rescue the children (and save the farm, in a manner of speaking).

There’s nothing “cute” about this film, yet it’s by no means mean-spirited, either. It is an off-beat, darkly funny, and wholly original treat for moviegoers hungry for a fresh alternative to the 999th lifetime viewing of It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story. Speaking as someone who lived for many years within a day’s drive of the Arctic Circle, the film also perfectly captures the stark beauty of midwinter in the far Northern Hemisphere; especially that uniquely dichotomous sense of both soothing tranquility and alien desolation that it can bring to one’s soul. And for god’s sake-let Santa rest in peace.

Holiday dispirited: Bad Santa Female TroubleThe RefThe Lion in WinterThe Rocking Horse WinnerMonty Python's Life Of BrianGo Trading PlacesNightmare Before ChristmasChristmas On MarsThe MatadorThe French ConnectionThe Curse of the Cat PeopleTokyo GodfathersLess Than ZeroIn Bruges Roger & MeSanta Claus Conquers the MartiansGremlins Elves ScroogedJack Frost (1997),You Better Watch OutSilent Night, Deadly NightBlack Christmas.

Previous posts with related themes:

What Would Jesus Buy?

It's our annual holiday fundraiser. If you have a few dollars to spare to help keep Hullabaloo going, I'd be very grateful for the support --- digby

Daddy, may I? #forcedchildbirthedition

by digby

How much do you want to bet this fellow is a big believer in property rights? Well, except for the right of a woman to own her own body:
A Missouri lawmaker who filed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to obtain notarized consent from the man who impregnated them defended the measure in an interview with 41 Action News on Thursday.

“It took two to come together and create a child, and right now the way it is the woman gets the full say and the father gets no say, and I think that that needs to change,” Brattin said. “With the women’s movement for equal rights, well it’s swung so far we have now taken away the man’s right and the say in their child’s life.” He added, “It’s a child’s life that’s taken. The woman’s life is not altered.”

Brattin’s bill includes an exception for victims of “legitimate rape” who report the crime to the police.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin told Mother Jones earlier this month. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped,’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape… I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed.”

And "you have to prove it." I'm not sure how, but if I had to guess this would probably be the way:

The Sodomized Virgin Exception

South Dakota:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

See? It just has to be brutalized and sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it to the point at which a woman's life would be threatened if she carried it to term, that's all. If it falls short of that, she could ask for permission from the man who impregnated her to have an abortion.  And maybe, if she asks very, very nicely, he'll say yes. Otherwise her body belongs to him for the duration.  But then it already did, didn't it?

So the "I was only following orders" defense now officially confers immunity on CIA

by digby

Unbelievable. Here's another one:
A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency’s search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.’s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode, according to current and former government officials.

The panel will make that recommendation after the five C.I.A. officials who were singled out by the agency’s inspector general this year for improperly ordering and carrying out the computer searches staunchly defended their actions, saying that they were lawful and in some cases done at the behest of John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director.

While effectively rejecting the most significant conclusions of the inspector general’s report, the panel, appointed by Mr. Brennan and composed of three C.I.A. officers and two members from outside the agency, is still expected to criticize agency missteps that contributed to the fight with Congress.

But its decision not to recommend anyone for disciplinary action is likely to anger members of the Intelligence Committee, who have accused the C.I.A. of trampling on the independence of Congress and interfering with its investigation of agency wrongdoing. The computer searches occurred late last year while the committee was finishing an excoriating report on the agency’s detention and interrogation program.

This episode seems to made the Senate more angry than anything else in this entire episode. (Authoritarian behavior is always worse when it happens to you...) One wonders if they'll find the fortitude to address this with some legislation or if they will just let it pass and in the process give up the last shred of institutional integrity.

If the CIA can get away with spying on members of the US Senate for this, what makes anyone believe they won't spy on other politicians for other reasons? Why shouldn't they? They can just say it was legal and that someone told them to do it and it's no harm no foul.

It sure makes it easy to see why the political class is so blindly supportive of the intelligence community isn't it?

It's our annual holiday fundraiser. If you have a few dollars to spare to help keep Hullabaloo going, I'd be very grateful for the support --- digby

Merry Christmas, punk

by digby

That a little cruder than the Glenn Beck version I wrote about a while back, but it's the same basic theme. Apparently, Santa Claus is much too soft and effeminate for Real Americans. So they're rewriting him as a badass:

You may or may not have heard that Beck has a book and movie empire. It’s called the American Dream Labs and they’re devoted to faith-based stories for the whole family. They currently have two projects in development. One is called “The Revolutionary” and it seems to be shrouded in secrecy. Knowing Beck’s love of thrillers it’s possible that’s a sequel to his blockbuster bestseller “The Overton Window.” We can only hope that it will feature the exciting action and scintillating dialogue like “I’ve got some rules, too, and rule number one is, don’t tease the panther” from that earlier masterpiece. On the other hand, it’s always possible that he’s rewriting the story of George Washington revealing for the first time that he was actually the direct descendant of Jesus Christ and Cleopatra. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The other project is called “The Immortal” and Beck has been giving out some tantalizing clues about it in recent days. He says he was inspired by the fact that kids love Santa Claus and he doesn’t want to burst their bubble but basically the jolly old elf is nothing but a scam artist who is ruining the real meaning of Christmas. So he wrote a new story about Kris Kringle — as an action hero who serves as a sort of ninja bodyguard for a young Jesus Christ. Seriously. Here is what he said on his show earlier this week:

My Santa, the Immortal is a very different guy. He starts out right before the birth of Christ, and he is up in the mountains. And he is a warrior. He has lost his wife, and he’s a sad individual. And he’s got a son who loves dearly, and he lives up in the mountains, and he hunts for food.

But what’s interesting about him is he’s also good with his hands, and the way he hunts is completely different. He actually goes up in the mountains, and he makes these giant puppets that he actually gets inside. And he is trying to kill these wild boars by being inside one of these puppets, if you will, of a boar. And he roots around as the boars come in. That way he’s close enough to kill them.

And he takes his son and leaves him in his sledge up on the mountaintop and tells him to be careful. You know, he has taught him to be smart and wise, but as Agios, the main character, comes down, and he is hunting for these wild boar, he hears a scream up by the sledge, and the wolves have come and dragged his boy away.

And what ensues is a violent, bloody encounter with the wolves as Santa Claus stabs and slashes the animal in retribution for what they’ve done to his son. Let’s just say that no visions of sugar plums will be dancing in your kid’s head after Daddy reads this story on the night before Christmas. In fact, he’ll never sleep again.

Beck has done a little trailer for the story, which, as you might imagine, looks like it’s going to be just a little bit different than “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

This is how Beck explained that weird thing:
That’s Santa? Yes, because what does a man do when he’s in that position where he has no hope, no resurrection, nothing? What does he do? He goes on an amazing journey as a hunter, as a gatherer. He eventually is hired by three wise men because he can negotiate, because nobody is going to rip them off, and he knows how to get the very best gifts. And so he negotiates with gold, frankincense, and myrrh and then has to go protect that gold, frankincense, and myrrh and then through a series of events is left there to protect the Christ child, never interacting, just watching.

He doesn’t know who he is, and he goes darker and darker in his whole life as he watches this boy grow, but he’s always touched by him, but he doesn’t realize it until the Sermon on the Mount. As this now 75-year-old man who has spent 30 years just following this little boy, as he’s listening to the Sermon on the Mount, he finally breaks. He knows who he is, and he falls to his knees, and he says Lord, let me serve him. Let me protect him. Let me point the way towards him until his mission is finished.

And that's why he carries an Automatic Rifle today.

Merry Christmas, punk.

It's our annual holiday fundraiser. If you have a few dollars to spare to help keep Hullabaloo going, I'd be very grateful for the support --- digby

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Many thanks

by digby

Thanks so much for your contributions to the annual holiday fundraiser so far. I'm always so touched by your generosity and your kind thoughts. In fact, it's one of the reason I do this at this time of year --- it never fails to make me feel the spirit of the season.

I thought I would re-run this piece by Glenn Greenwald  in the Guardian before he broke the biggest story of the decade and moved on to create his new media company First Look. I think it explains what this humble blog is all about:
Ever since I began political writing, I've relied on annual reader donations to enable me to do the journalism I want to do: first when I wrote at my own Blogspot page and then at Salon. Far and away, that has been the primary factor enabling me to remain independent - to be unconstrained in what I can say and do - because it means I'm ultimately accountable to my readers, who don't have an agenda other than demanding that I write what I actually think, that the work I produce be unconstrained by institutional orthodoxies and without fear of negative reaction from anyone... 
For that reason, when I moved my blog from Salon to the Guardian, the Guardian and I agreed that I would continue to rely in part on reader support. Having this be part of the arrangement, rather than exclusively relying on the Guardian paying to publish the column, was vital to me. It's the model I really I believe in.

It is an indispensable factor in my independence. It enables me to work far more effectively by having the resources I need and to spend my time only on the work which I actually believe can have an impact. 
It keeps my readers invested in the work I do and keeps me accountable to them. And it's what enables me to know that I'll be able to continue focusing on the issues and advancing the perspectives which I think are vital regardless of who that might alienate. I've spent all of this week extensively traveling and working continuously on what will be a huge story: something made possible by being at the Guardian but also by my ability to devote all of my time and efforts to projects like this one.

--- Glenn Greenwald, June 2013
I'm quite sure I won't be breaking any huge stories like the NSA revelations. But your support helps me to stay independent and do the thing we do here, which is call it like we see it. And I'm so very grateful for that.

Whistling towards Dixie

by Tom Sullivan

A week ago I wrote about a suspected lynching under investigation along the coast in North Carolina. Eerie stuff. Up here in the mountains, we've got this Scot-Irish thing happening that defines local attitudes (the kind of thing Sara Robinson has written about for years). But things are hardly static. Inmigration is changing the South. In the wake of Michael Tomasky's recent "dump Dixie" column, Chris Kromm at the Institute for Southern Studies counters with why that's a bad idea.

Southern clout is expected to grow with population, he writes. "Southern states are projected to gain another five Congressional seats and Electoral College votes in 2020. Ignoring the South just isn't an option if Democrats want to be relevant in national politics."

And the South is not Democrats' biggest problem. Democrats' Senate candidates may have lost by an average of 18 points in the South, but they lost by an average of 26 points in the Great Plains. "But for some reason," Kromm writes, "we're never treated to post-Election Day screeds from Northern pundits about the Great Plains being a cesspool of 'prejudice' and 'resentment.'"

Thirdly, "Nearly half of all African Americans in the country live in 13 Southern states." And that population is growing, a "two-decade trend of return migration of blacks to the South." Those people are a large chunk Democrats' base voters. Abandoning them is to cut off one's nose to spite the face. And besides those, Kromm writes, "Southern states also have among the fastest-growing Latino and Asian communities. The South ranks at the top for both migration from other states and immigration from abroad. The number of counties in the South that are majority people of color is projected to double within a generation."

But demography is not enough. The left may gloat over the point spread by which women favor Democrats over Republicans, but when Democrats are losing white, working-class voters by 30 points in off-years when young voters generally stay home, the result is 2014.

Undoing that (and the redistricting post 2010) will not be quick or easy. The NC Supreme Court just yesterday upheld the GOP's 2011 redistricting maps. Because of a computer glitch on Election Night 2008, our local Board of Elections had trouble uploading vote totals to Raleigh. Barack Obama had already won, but John McCain still led in North Carolina by 3,000 votes. The only county left to report with any votes in it was ours. A colleague fresh from the Board downtown slid up to me at the watch party and slipped a printout into my hands: 17,000 votes net for Obama. We'd won every race in the county. In 2014, when Democrats everywhere else across the South lost ground, we gained it here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Baby please come home (for the last time)

by digby

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars notes that tonight is the last time Darlene Love will be singing Christmas (baby please come home) on Letterman.

I'll miss it ...

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Don't fool with Mother Nature

by digby

Good lord. Why in the world are we even thinking of fracking? The following summarizes the various considerations that went into New York's official ban on the practice this week:
Respiratory health: The report cites the dangers of methane emissions from natural gas drilling in Texas and Pennsylvania, which have been linked to asthma and other breathing issues. Another study found that 39 percent of residents in southern Pennsylvania who lived within one kilometer of a fracking site developed upper-respiratory problems compared with 18 percent of those who lived more than two kilometers away.

Drinking water: Shallow methane-migration underground could seep into drinking water, one study found, contaminating wells. Another found brine from deep shale formations in groundwater aquifers. The report also refers to a study of fracking communities in the Appalachian Plateau where they found methane in 82 percent of drinking water samples, and that concentrations of the chemical were six times higher in homes close to natural gas wells. Ethane was 23 times higher in homes close to fracking sites as well.

Seismic activity: The report cites studies from Ohio and Oklahoma that explain how fracking can trigger earthquakes. Another found that fracking near Preese Hall in the United Kingdom resulted in a 2.3 magnitude earthquake as well as 1.5 magnitude earthquake.

Climate change: Excess methane can be released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. One study predicts that fracking in New York State would contribute between 7 percent and 28 percent of the volatile organic compound emissions, and between 6 percent and 18 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the region by 2020.

Soil contamination: One analysis of a natural gas site found elevated levels of radioactive waste in the soil, potentially the result of surface spills.

The community: The report refers to problems such as noise and odor pollution, citing a case in Pennsylvania where gas harvesting was linked to huge increases in automobile accidents and heavy truck crashes.

Health complaints: Residents near active fracking sites reported having symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, nosebleeds, and headaches according to studies. A study in rural Colorado which examined 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 found that those who lived closest to natural gas development sites had a 30 percent increase in congenital heart conditions. The group of births closest to development sites also had a 100-percent increased chance of developing neural tube defects.

Why in world is anyone in favor of this besides oil company executives and terrorists?

I don't know how much of that is going to be scientifically valid over time but if even 25% of it is, it makes little sense to just continue doing this willy-nilly.

Whenever I read about this I can't help but recall this little bit of history:
In the 1910s and 1920s the southern Plains was "the last frontier of agriculture" according to the government, when rising wheat prices, a war in Europe, a series of unusually wet years, and generous federal farm policies created a land boom – the Great Plow-Up that turned 5.2 million acres of thick native grassland into wheat fields. Newcomers rushed in and towns sprang up overnight.

As the nation sank into the Depression and wheat prices plummeted from $2 a bushel to 40 cents, farmers responded by tearing up even more prairie sod in hopes of harvesting bumper crops. When prices fell even further, the "suitcase farmers" who had moved in for quick profits simply abandoned their fields. Huge swaths of eight states, from the Dakotas to Texas and New Mexico, where native grasses had evolved over thousands of years to create a delicate equilibrium with the wild weather swings of the Plains, now lay naked and exposed.

Then the drought began. It would last eight straight years. Dust storms, at first considered freaks of nature, became commonplace. Static charges in the air shorted-out automobiles on the road; men avoided shaking hands for fear of shocks that could knock a person to the ground. Huge drifts of dirt buried pastures and barnyards, piled up in front of homesteaders' doors, came in through window cracks and sifted down from ceilings. 
Some 850 million tons of topsoil blew away in 1935 alone. "Unless something is done," a government report predicted, "the western plains will be as arid as the Arabian desert."

That was the Dust Bowl, obviously.

Scientists knew this would happen and they warned farmers but it did no good. And we know why.
We want it now – and if it makes money now it's a good idea. But if the things we're doing are going to mess up the future it wasn't a good idea. Don't deal on the moment. Take the long-term look at things. It's important that we do the right thing by the soil and the climate. History, is of value only if you learn from it.

Wayne Lewis, Dust Bowl survivor
Yeah, well, good luck with that.

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