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The bottom-line chickens come home to roost

It’s not just the nuclear power industry. Virtually anything of significance to our national safety (or anyone else’s) gets fucked up once you add in the profit motive. It’s just that the nuclear power lobby has the capacity to harm so many more people than the average crooked contractor.

I caught some of the news this morning, and they were following a nuclear power lobbyist on his Capitol Hill rounds as he “reassured” members that “we have all kinds of safety procedures” in place, and it “couldn’t happen here.”


Look: Nothing is safe when there’s a buck to be made. And while I’d rather be someone who doesn’t see the worst-case scenario all the time, it would help if I wasn’t right so often. (As my therapist points out, pessimism tends to bleed into the rest of my life. I’d much rather be serene, but oh well.)

There were more than 200 safety violations covered up at this plant. Two years ago, the plant owners were informed they couldn’t handle anything more than a 7.0 earthquake; it would cost $1 billion to protect it.

Guess what happened.

Now tell me why it won’t happen here.

People have such touching faith in order, and logic. “We put all these rules in place, and they inspect it regularly.” “No one would ever put everything at risk by cutting corners.” Uh huh. Right. Worked for the banks, right?

The one good thing I can say about this is the international moneyed community, the ones who cared so little about what they’ve done to soil their nests here, who assumed they could always move somewhere else, might finally be getting at least a glimmer of understanding about this very basic truth: Once you’ve destroyed the social contract, you have no place left to hide.

And so, to the bankers who hired private jets and left Japan last night like rats deserting a sinking ship, I’d like to remind them that they’re only postponing the inevitable. Because the karma, man, she is a bitch.

Things that sorta cheered me up today

The Japanese are running a very long extension cord to the damaged nuclear plant (hope it helps); a Guardian journalist was released from captivity in Libya; that “reassuring” link about the nuclear power leak turns out to be very shady (it cheers me that my instincts were correct); Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks a progressive should primary Obama; NBA players pay for assistant’s surgery; Jerry Brown speaks out against Republican extremists; and this cool gadget that gives you a government fuel rating sticker if you’re selling your car.

It’s so much worse

Than what they’re telling us:

Do we sense a certain impatience

With the president? Why yes, I think we do:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and a handful of other House Democrats expressed deep frustration with President Barack Obama’s leadership on Wednesday, saying he needs to do more to set the direction for the progressive movement.

Across the aisle, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has struggled to wrangle the various wings of his conference and pass budget measures through the lower chamber. Weiner told a group of journalists and bloggers on Capitol Hill that the Republican leader has a tough job of trying to hold “a coalition of crazies and completely crazies together.”

But Republicans, Weiner said, have nonetheless long done a better job of making their case — “smaller government, smaller deficits, lower taxes” — to the public and each other. The Democratic Party remains unclear as to its core policy principles, Weiner said, and part of the problem is Obama.

“On our side is this weird squishy affirmative sense of what government should do and how we’re opposed to this cut and that cut, rather than saying, ‘Here are the things: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, environment and education. We’re not cutting those. Those are off the table. That’s non-negotiable,’” said Weiner, adding, “We haven’t really done that very well. That’s because the president fundamentally — he’s not a values guy. He wants to try to get the best deal for the American people and that’s virtuous in its own right, but it becomes very difficult to make a strategy. There’s been much greater global strategy thinking on [progressive media] outlets, frankly, than at 1600 Pennsylvania.”
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The war on Social Security continues

Pay attention to the growing push to cut Social Security in the name of “austerity.” (And yes, far too many Dems are involved.) The bond boys whisper in the president’s ear, while the campaign ops try frantically to convince him it’s political suicide. (Because it is.) And Bernie Sanders, God bless ‘im, continues to fight on while NPR regurgitates the propaganda:

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint acknowledges there is a risk in pressing now for Social Security reforms.

“It is politically dangerous, but I think the mood of the country is different than it has been [at] any time in my lifetime,” DeMint said. “They expect us to do things to stop the bankrupting of the country.”

DeMint wants to let people under 55 set up personal retirement accounts as an alternative to paying into Social Security.

And that’s why Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski is deeply suspicious of the GOP push for reform.

“I think it’s a stalking horse for those who want to privatize Social Security,” she said. “They want Social Security to become a dot-com. I want to keep it a dot-gov.”

On Tuesday, a group of Democratic lawmakers proposed protecting Social Security by requiring a two-thirds majority vote for any changes in the program. That measure’s lead sponsor is Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“This country faces a lot of very serious crises which should be dealt with yesterday,” Sanders said. “Social Security happens not to be one of them.” Not for Democrats, anyway.

This story’s from NPR. Notice the little dig there at the end? Fuck them. This “reasonable” splitting the difference crap is what I hate about them. They indoctrinate people who should know better, but since NPR tells them it’s perfectly okay to cut Social Security, “reasonable” people should support it.

Fuck them and their smugness.

Imagine if your college-aged kid tapped out his college fund to buy a $100,000 sports car, and then went to the college to “explain” to them they should be willing to accept 50% of his tuition as payment in full.

That’s what these bastards are trying to do with Social Security, and it’s just plain immoral.

More on nuke crisis

New York Times:

TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear crisis intensified on Wednesday after the authorities announced that a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan may have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam.

The break, at the No. 3 reactor unit, worsened the already perilous conditions at the plant, a day after officials said the containment vessel in the No. 2 reactor had also cracked.

Such were the radiation levels above the plant, moreover, that the Japanese military put off a highly unusual plan to dump water from helicopters — a tactic normally used to combat forest fires — to lower temperatures in a pool containing spent fuel rods that was overheating dangerously. The operation would have meant flying a helicopter into steam rising from the plant with potentially high radiation levels.

However, in one of a series of rapid and at times confusing pronouncements on the crisis, the authorities insisted that damage to the containment vessel at the No. 3 reactor — the main focus of concern earlier on Wednesday — was unlikely to be severe.


Japanese baby girl found in the rubble, reunited with her father.

Nuclear situation worsens

I was surprised to find out that the amount of relief donations is relatively small. Plus, I found out yesterday that AT&T and Verizon are holding onto the money donated via text for at least a month, which really screws the people of Japan. Please donate directly to relief agencies, because the money gets there more quickly. (The Red Cross site allows you to use Amazon Payments, which is painless.) Obviously, people need help now:

FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Surging radiation levels forced Japan to order emergency workers to temporarily withdraw from its crippled nuclear plant Wednesday, losing time in a desperate operation to cool the overheating reactors — the most urgent crisis from last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The technicians were dousing the nuclear reactors with seawater in a frantic effort to cool them when they had to retreat in the late morning. The plant’s operator ordered the technicians back to the site in the evening after radiation levels subsided.

In the hours in between, it was not clear what if any operations continued. Officials gave only sparse information about reactors.

But conditions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant appeared to be worsening. White steam-like clouds drifted up from one reactor which, the government said, likely emitted the burst of radiation that led to the workers’ withdrawal. The plant’s operator reported a fire at another reactor for the second time in two days.

At one point, national broadcaster NHK showed military helicopters lifting off to survey radiation levels above the complex, preparing to dump water onto the most troubled reactors in a desperate effort to cool them down. The defense ministry later said those flights were a drill, and it had no plans to make an airborne water drop.

“The anxiety and anger being felt by people in Fukushima have reached a boiling point,” the governor of Fukushima prefecture, Yuhei Sato, fumed in an interview with NHK. He criticized preparations for an evacuation if conditions worsen and said centers already housing people moved from nearby the plant do not have enough hot meals and basic necessities.

The nuclear crisis has triggered international alarm and partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, a blast of black seawater that pulverized Japan’s northeastern coastline. The quake was one of the strongest recorded in history.

Millions of people struggled for a fifth day with little food, water or heat, and already chilly temperatures turned to snow in many areas. Police say more than 452,000 people are staying in temporary shelters, often sleeping on the floor in school gymnasiums.


Way to go, Dems!

Meanwhile, Tennessee is fighting back.

Social Security

It’s so strange, how many Democrats refuse to believe what’s going on. Even Obama’s own political advisors warn against it – but, as Digby points out, Geithner is leading the charge:

…This is a particularly bankrupt and almost desperate move that makes little economic sense unless the Treasury Dept has now literally bought into the idea that they need to sacrifice human beings to appease the market Gods.

At A Night Light:

Reality check: Nobody’s proposing ‘entitlement reform.’ That term is a cloaking device for ugly intentions, a meaningless manufactured phrase cooked up by some highly-paid consultant that diminishes the sum total of human understanding every time it’s used. It’s a euphemism for deep cuts to programs that are vital and even life-saving for millions of elderly and poor people, but it’s politically unpalatable to say that. So it became necessary to come up with yet another cognition-killing term designed to numb us from the human toll of our political actions. “Entitlement reform” is the new “collateral damage.”

But this time the collateral damage is us.

Try to remember this the next time it seems like too much trouble to go to a rally, or call your congressman.

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