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Obama headquarters

Charlie Pierce pays a visit to campaign central:

The headquarters is on the third floor. To visit, guests have to surrender their driver’s licenses in exchange for a visitor’s tag at the front desk. The days of the storefront walk-in headquarters are as dead as the Whigs, and Steve was not even allowed to tell me how many local headquarters the campaign has around the country. Within the broad rooms is a very strange combination of a high-end frat house and a local Best Buy outlet. Over the field-organizing tables hang the state flags of the various regions of the country that the people beneath them are working. (The middle of the area has a very strong Big 10 feel.) Beneath the flags, young people — over 90 percent of whom are salaried to one extent or another — worked every possible mode of communication technology brought down from the mount by Messrs. Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg. LCD screens were hung every place somebody hadn’t hung a handmade sign cheering on the president, his wife, the country, or people who’d been aces at their jobs in one way or another the previous week. The room buzzed with a cacophony of beeps, bells, and amplified punditspeak. Actual human speech even was buried in there somewhere. It was like watching the Keebler elves working in a nuclear missile silo.

This is the way campaigns are these days. This is the way politics are these days. The Obama campaign pioneered many of the new techniques in 2008, when they were able to bring a one-term senator to the presidency all the way to the White House at least in part by using the new technologies to create new kinds of communities — real and virtual — that they could activate when they most needed them. There is something insulated about it, but it is not the kind of insulation whereby something is sealed away from the world. Instead, it is more like the insulation that you find on electric wires, the kind of thing that makes sure the current stays strong and properly directed, but which also makes sure that the electricity does not erupt in ways that cannot be controlled.
That’s the most conspicuous element of the president’s re-election headquarters: the overwhelming impression of a place that serves two primary functions — to marshal power and to control it tightly. This is not a place that either engenders improvisation or anger or emotion, or seeks in anyway to turn them loose.
That’s for the streets outside. If that energy can be channelled in ways the campaign can employ to what it perceives to be its policy goals — in other words, if it’s time for Joe Biden to go give another speech somewhere — so much the better.

Everything is garrisoned today. Everything is insulated the way that electric wires are insulated so that the power doesn’t go anywhere it’s not supposed to go. The country’s political process is encased in technology so as to make it as safe and regular as it can be, so that the people within it can feel comfortable in what they’re doing. It is not a contrivance. If it were, practically anyone would do it, and the Republican presidential primary field — to say nothing of the candidate it produced — is proof enough that that’s not the case. It is, for lack of a better world, a kind of manufactured evolution, politics learning the techniques of distancing itself from the people politics purports to serve in the same way that those people have learned to distance themselves from each other, primarily through the insulating effect of new technology. We have grown accustomed to guns on the street, First Amendment zones, elections as televised design contests or exercises in competing virtual realities. The Obama headquarters is neither a symptom of this, nor is it the cause. It is simply a creature of the country it seeks once again to lead. We live garrisoned lives, so why should our politics be any different? Any energy that cannot be filtered through the buzz of the headquarters is left downstairs, on the outside, behind the toddler gate that stretches across the hallway or, better yet, out on the sidewalk, where walk the men with guns.

Woo hoo

Lawsuit against Comcast re: locking up installation subcontractors and carrying out predatory pricing to avoid competition.

Cory hearts Wall Street

It’s no secret in my part of the world that Cory Booker is a very ambitious man, whose horizons stretch far beyond New Jersey. (Until the election of Barack Obama, many observers thought he would be the first black president.)

This might explain his fondness for Bain Capital – their employees were among his earliest financial backers:

A ThinkProgress examination of New Jersey campaign finance records for Booker’s first run for Mayor — back in 2002 — suggests a possible reason for his unease with attacks on Bain Capital and venture capital. They were among his earliest and most generous backers.

Contributions to his 2002 campaign from venture capitalists, investors, and big Wall Street bankers brought him more than $115,000 for his 2002 campaign. Among those contributing to his campaign were John Connaughton ($2,000), Steve Pagliuca ($2,200), Jonathan Lavine ($1,000) — all of Bain Capital. While the forms are not totally clear, it appears the campaign raised less than $800,000 total, making this a significant percentage.

He and his slate also jointly raised funds for the “Booker Team for Newark” joint committee. They received more than $450,000 for the 2002 campaign from the sector — including a pair of $15,400 contributions from Bain Capital Managing Directors Joshua Bekenstein and Mark Nunnelly. It appears that for the initial campaign and runoff, the slate raised less than $4 million — again making this a sizable chunk.

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Tom Morello on Democracy Now!

Recall voting

Begins in Wisconsin.


Arrogance eventually trips people up:

MADISON — Did Gov. Scott Walker lie to a congressional committee under oath? That’s the latest explosive question in an already charged political atmosphere, and three congressmen are seeking answers.

No one – not even Walker’s opponent in the recall race, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is ready to call it perjury — but this is the same congressional committee that questioned disgraced baseball player Roger Clemens, who is now facing a perjury trial.
Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia has raised serious concerns about the truthfulness of Gov. Walker’s testimony under oath before a congressional committee.

The controversy centers on two pieces of videotape. The first is from April 14th, 2011. Walker was asked to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about his budget.

Walker was asked by Congressman Connolly: “Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin in using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base?” Walker’s response was “no.”

Two weeks ago, video surfaced that was recorded three months prior to Walker’s congressional testimony as part of a documentary called “As Goes Janesville.” Walker speaks to a billionaire businesswoman, and the largest single donor to his campaign, Diane Hendricks.


The Wisconsin State Journal calls the wahhmbulance over the Walker recall.

NRC chief to resign

The foreign press is warning of the potential for a major catastrophe for the northern hemisphere from the remaining fuel pools at Fukushima – but the American media is strangely silent. Their focus is on Reactor 4, which is open to the elements and at high risk of disaster in the event of another major earthquake:

More than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a massive nuclear disaster, experts are warning that Japan isn’t out of the woods yet and the worst nuclear storm the world has ever seen could be just one earthquake away from reality.

The troubled Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is at the centre of this potential catastrophe.

Reactor 4 — and to a lesser extent Reactor 3 — still hold large quantities of cooling waters surrounding spent nuclear fuel, all bound by a fragile concrete pool located 30 metres above the ground, and exposed to the elements.

A magnitude 7 or 7.5 earthquake would likely fracture that pool, and disaster would ensue, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education who has visited the site.

The 1,535 spent fuel rods would become exposed to the air and would likely catch fire, with the most-recently added fuel rods igniting first.

The incredible heat generated from that blaze, Gundersen said, could then ignite the older fuel in the cooling pool, causing a massive oxygen-eating radiological fire that could not be extinguished with water.

“So the fear is the newest fuel could begin to burn and then we’d have a conflagration of the whole pool because it would become hotter and hotter. The health consequences of that are beyond where science has ever gone before,” Gundersen told CTVNews.ca in an interview from his home in Vermont.

There are a couple of possible outcomes, Gundersen said.

Highly radioactive cesium and strontium isotopes would likely go airborne and “volatilize” — turning into a vapour that could move with the wind, potentially travelling thousands of kilometres from the source.

The size of those particles would determine whether they remained in Japan, or made their way to the rest of Asia and other continents.

“And here’s where there’s no science because no one’s ever dared to attempt the experiment,” Gundersen said. “If it flies far enough it goes around the world, if the particles stay a little bigger, they settle in Japan. Either is awful.”

Essentially, he said, Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

And this isn’t very reassuring, considering how many similarly flawed plants of the same kind are here in the U.S.:

Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced Monday he would resign from the five-member commission that oversees US nuclear power plant safety after a tenure in which he wrangled with other members of the commission over the direction of safety regulations.

Mr. Jaczko’s chairmanship, which began with tumult three years ago over the NRC’s controversial decision to cancel the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository – now concludes on the heels of a tumultuous year attempting to implement “lessons learned” from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. He announced his resignation amid an ongoing battle over his proposals to tighten safety regulations at US nuclear power plants in the wake of the Japanese disaster.

Mixed emotions

About this. What do you think?


No police state here!

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