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Tomorrow’s the day

To put out a bag of canned goods for your local food banks:

You can help “Stamp Out Hunger” this weekend by joining with the Letter Carriers’ (NALC) in the largest one-day food drive in the nation. NALC asks that you collect canned goods and dry food, such as tuna, canned meat, soups, pasta, rice and cereal, and leave them in a bag or box by your mailbox on Sat., May 14. Your letter carriers will pick them up as they deliver your mail. NALC members will deliver the goods to local food banks, pantries and shelters to help needy families in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions.

This is NALC’s 19th annual food drive, held on the second Saturday in May. National and local NALC food drive coordinators hope to expand on last year’s record of 77.1 million pounds of donations collected along postal routes. Over the past 18 years, NALC members have collected and donated more than one billion pounds of food to help feed hungry Americans.

Demands for food assistance have reached record levels. More than 50 million people—including 17.2 million children—live in households that are hungry or at risk of hunger, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s a 30 percent increase in one year and represents more than one in seven households in the country (14.6 percent).

Coburn’s part in Ensign’s affair

I don’t know how closely any of you have been following this, but basically Tom Coburn was helping John Ensign cover up his affair and pay off the involved parties.

In other words, obstruction of justice.

And really, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you belong to an extremist religious cult that’s vowed to lie its way into power so they can establish God’s kingdom on earth!

Bet you dollars to doughnuts there are no consequences whatsoever for Coburn. After all, the Family’s too powerful.

Chris Hedges

Writing on why the U.S. is destroying its education system:

“If the Bloomberg administration can be said to have succeeded in anything,” he said, “they have succeeded in turning schools into stress factories where teachers are running around wondering if it’s possible to please their principals and if their school will be open a year from now, if their union will still be there to offer some kind of protection, if they will still have jobs next year. This is not how you run a school system. It’s how you destroy one. The reformers and their friends in the media have created a Manichean world of bad teachers and effective teachers. In this alternative universe there are no other factors. Or, all other factors—poverty, depraved parents, mental illness and malnutrition—are all excuses of the Bad Teacher that can be overcome by hard work and the Effective Teacher.”

The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not lie to themselves. They do not pretend that fraud is moral or that corporate greed is good. They do not claim that the demands of the marketplace can morally justify the hunger of children or denial of medical care to the sick. They do not throw 6 million families from their homes as the cost of doing business. Thought is a dialogue with one’s inner self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do not want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And they know that this moral independence is the only protection from the radical evil that results from collective unconsciousness. The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralized authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think. Those who are endowed with a moral conscience refuse to commit crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not in the end want to live with criminals—themselves.
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The strategy

What really pisses me off about this is that we simply can’t trust the Democrats not to go along. And if “compromise” on Medicare and Social Security happens, people will be staying home in droves for the next election. Steve Benen:

Look, this is so obvious, it usually goes unsaid, but it’s important to understand. McConnell and other Republicans are eager, practicallydesperate, to make major changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — changes that the public won’t like. What the GOP needs more than anything is bipartisan cover. They want Obama to make it so, to use McConnell’s word, this isn’t “usable” in the next election, because if Republicans tried to do this on their own, the electoral consequences would be severe.

That leaves Republican leaders with two choices to get what they want. Option #1: the GOP can agree to some tax increases and Pentagon cuts as part of a grand bargain with Democrats. Option #2: the GOP can threaten to destroy the economy, on purpose, unless Democrats give in to Republican demands on entitlements.

Guess which one the GOP prefers?

Neither McConnell nor Boehner have been willing to speak publicly about exactly what’s on the GOP’s ransom note, but that’s part of the game, too — they’re keeping things vague so they can wait and see how far Democrats will go to fill in the blanks.

With that in mind, the White House is also effectively left with two options. Option #1: tell Republicans there will be no deal and when the economy crashes, it will be their fault. Option #2: tell the GOP negotiations can proceed after Republican leaders start adding details to their own ransom note.

What do Democrats still stand for? Not much, as far as I can tell.

Flashbacks

When the Bush administration did this, we raised a ruckus. Gee, what do you suppose will happen now?

If this is accurate

We are so screwed.

Words of love

I’m still on my spring cleaning binge, and today I went through a huge stack of papers that were stowed in a box under my bed. In it, I found several printouts of emails exchanged between me and my significant other of some eight or nine years ago.

I thought I’d gotten rid of everything I had from that era (I know I did build a bonfire with my journals from that time), but these were three or four letters shoved in a box with a bunch of old legal pads.

At the time we were involved, I thought of us as star-crossed lovers, but when I read these letters again today with the help of several years’ distance, I was a little surprised. “Wow,” I thought. “He really was a selfish, dishonest jerk, and it’s all right there, plain as day. Why didn’t I ever see it?”

Liberals! We’re just so good at making excuses for people.

View from the inside

This is a French engineer living in Tokyo who’s been posting videos as the disaster progressed. He said all along that reactor No. 1 had melted down, but he’s convinced No. 2 and 3 are also in full meltdown:

Meltdown

Boy, this just gets better and better, doesn’t it? So those reports of very high radioactive leaks, the ones TEPCO denied, were accurate if the reactor core was exposed. There was indeed a meltdown — and the other reactors are also at risk:

Engineers from the Tokyo Electric Power company (Tepco) entered the No.1 reactor at the end of last week for the first time and saw the top five feet or so of the core’s 13ft-long fuel rods had been exposed to the air and melted down.

Previously, Tepco believed that the core of the reactor was submerged in enough water to keep it stable and that only 55 per cent of the core had been damaged.

Now the company is worried that the molten pool of radioactive fuel may have burned a hole through the bottom of the containment vessel, causing water to leak.

“We will have to revise our plans,” said Junichi Matsumoto, a spokesman for Tepco. “We cannot deny the possibility that a hole in the pressure vessel caused water to leak”.

Tepco has not clarified what other barriers there are to stop radioactive fuel leaking if the steel containment vessel has been breached. Greenpeace said the situation could escalate rapidly if “the lava melts through the vessel”.

Virtually Speaking tonight

Tonight, it’s Stirling Newberry on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd on the sustainability of the US political economy.

Listen here beginning Thursday, May 12 @ 9pm eastern/6pm pacific. Call 646-200-3440 with questions or comments.

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