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Articles by Michael Kavanagh

Michael J. Kavanagh is a writer and public radio reporter.

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What liberals and their allies in the environmentalist wacko movement fail to understand is: their message has gotten out. Their anti-capitalist, socialist, gloom-and-doom, fear-based, lunatic ravings have been amplified — and Americans understand exactly who they are, and what they’re about. As the “Mr. Big” of the vast right-wing conspiracy, I am proud, ladies and gentlemen, to play a major part in the exposé leading to their depression.– Rush Limbaugh April 25, 2005

Currently, about 20 million people tune in to Rush Limbaugh every week. His lingo is now conservative lingua franca. Limbaugh figured out that if you repeat your best lines — e.g., “environmentalist wackos” — often enough, they become more than just funny catchphrases; they become a reconfiguration of reality and a call to arms. In his world (and it’s a world in which a lot of people live), you can’t be an environmentalist and escape wacko-ism.

In Limbaugh, a large group of Americans who felt their country was being taken away from them found an emotional outlet. If his facts didn’t always ring true, his anger did. Limbaug... Read more

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  • Jared Diamond’s Collapse traces the fates of societies to their treatment of the environment

    I will always think of Jared Diamond as the man who, for the better part of the late 1990s, somehow made the phrase "east-west axis of orientation" the most talked-about kind of orientation there was -- freshman, sexual, or otherwise. His 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies began with a simple question -- "Why did Pizarro conquer the Incas and not the other way around?" -- and then managed to tell, over the course of only 400-odd pages, the history of why humanity has turned out the way it has. For most readers (and there were millions), Guns was their first exposure to theories of geographic determinism. To broadly simplify, Diamond's book posited that human populations on continents with a primarily east-west orientation benefited from a more consistent climate and therefore developed more quickly than those living on continents with a north-south orientation. It had the kind of paradigm-shifting impact that happens with a book only once every few years, and it turned Diamond -- a professor of geography at UCLA -- into something of a rock star.