Friday, March 18, 2011

The Obama Doctrine

President Obama established today what is possibly the only legitimate use of UN-sanctioned military force: Intervening in an internecine conflict to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in which largely defenseless civilians are slaughtered by a dictatorial or rogue state authority. The international community, as represented by the UN and led by the United States, has a MORAL RESPONSIBILITY to use all necessary power to prevent atrocities against civilians. PERIOD.

This is the 21st century, and we, as civilized people, should not tolerate a horrific repeat of the atrocities that happened in Bosnia, Rwanda, and northern Kurdish Iraq. Military intervention on humanitarian grounds rests on a solid legal and moral foundation of international law dating back to the Nuremberg Trials. What's so hard about this for the Idiot Punditocracy to understand?

Of all the trumped-up excuses for military intervention, this is perhaps the only type of preemptive military intervention, other than the usual claims of self-defense, that is justified. Setting up a no-fly zone under the auspices of the UN and the Arab League is not an act of war. Dennis Kucinich and the libertarian doves argue that it is, and certainly every U.S. military intervention since World War II was done without an act of war declared by Congress. So it's a tad disingenuous for Kucinich to demand such a declaration for a no-fly zone whose intent is to prevent genocide and establish a cease-fire. Chris Matthews wondered where the outcry from the anti-Khaddafi forces was for intervention. Apparently, he has ignored the persistent pleas by the Libyan rebels made to correspondents in the war zone with the question: "Where is America, where is Obama?"

Well, the President stepped up in the 11th hour and did the right thing. Military intervention to prevent genocide against defenseless civilians is the singular justification for the use of force for which there is no counter-argument based on our values and principles as a nation. Call it the Obama Doctrine. It's a whole lot better than his predecessor's, which "justified" preemptive military intervention based on subterfuge and manufactured intelligence of imminent threats to our national security that never quite materialized.

Dr. Michio Kaku Raises Entombment Option on Larry-O's Show

Lawrence O'Donnell, who's been on fire ever since Stephanie Miller promised him her sacred honor (coincidence?), had the iconoclastic physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku, on his show. What's great about Dr. Kaku is that he makes science fun and accessible to us regular folks and sci-fi buffs. He's the antidote to stuffy academics whose work is circumscribed by research dollars from one special interest or another. Dr. Kaku is as much at ease on C-Span as he is on Coast-to-Coast taking questions about alien visitations and abductions. And he doesn't smirk or talk down to people who ask him questions from "out there." Which is pretty cool. Dr. Kaku has done as much as anyone to popularize science, and his show on the Science Channel is a whole lotta interactive fun. And, of course, he's brilliant too. Here's Dr. Kaku raising the "Chernobyl Option" on Lawrence's show before Japanese authorities indicated they may have to resort to the "sarcophagus" solution:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Musical Interlude: Beautiful Music to Soothe Anxieties in Anxious Times

Liza Veiga is a Portuguese soprano singer. This is the video for "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" a legendary composition of Procol Harum. Recorded and filmed in Prague with the Czech Chamber Philarmonic Orchestra. As one listener said: "So classical beauty and still faithfull to Procol Harum. Wonderful orchestra, divine voice."


Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the MSNBC health "expert" criticized Americans for our "narcissism" concerning the possible health hazards to us from the Japanese nuclear catastrophe. Of course, Dr. Nancy, I presume, draws a salary from the designer of those nuclear plants, GE. And her colleagues in Japan are equipped with the latest portable radiation detection devices not available to us plebes. They're not crazy, they're significantly more protected than the Japanese population, whose government directives — I fear, from my layman observer's perch — will have caused grave short- and long-term damage to the health of the Japanese people.

But that's just me; I'm no "expert"— not of the caliber of those who perpetuated the LIES spread by then-EPA Director Christie Whitman days after 9/11 that the air in Manhattan was "safe" to breathe. The minute she uttered those words, the first thing that occurred to me, literally (to quote Joe Biden), was incredulity followed by "THAT'S BULLSHIT." Common sense would dictate that the body's exposure to that toxic cloud of chemicals in unknown quantities was UNSAFE and HIGHLY HAZARDOUS to human health. Years later, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the deaths and terminal illnesses of first responders exposed to the toxic air. I wasn't surprised. Were you?

It should also be noted — and this is a whole other story — that people who live in the shadows of nuclear plants, or chemical plants, or oil refineries, or coal mining operations, all of which expell high (or unknown, because unregulated "monitoring" is a joke) concentrations of toxins into the immediate environment have suffered from statistically significant incidences of cancers and other diseases compared to the general population. The same applies to people who contract to work cleanup of toxic environmental disasters, e.g., the Exxon Valdez (documented) and the BP oil spill, whose consequences, you can count on it, will be afflicting victims for decades, as they try to collect compensation from BP for their illnesses. In the 50s and 60s, army personnel and workers exposed to atmospheric atomic tests and civilians living downwind of the test sites contracted cancers such as leukemia at high levels. Notably, John Wayne's cancer is attributed to filming in a former test zone with lingering radiation hazards. Just about all of his film crew contracted cancer from this exposure.

Nuclear radiation is radiation. It's just the method of its dissemination that changes. There are NO safe levels. 

The bottom line is, people who live in these hazardous chemical and radiation exposure zones — low-level or "acceptable levels," pick your poison euphemism — are the poor, who lack the resources to make a lot of noise about the quality of their health. If you've ever driven that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike known as "cancer alley" because there are clusters you can see on a map of high cancer rates in the population living along that highway, you know exactly what I mean. It's like a DEAD ZONE heading in or out of Manhattan, with oil refineries around the towns of Kearny and Harrison, and a glut of chemical plants. We roll up the car windows, kill the air, step on the accelerator and hold our breath to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. The smell is like astringent detergent.

The people who live live downwind of that chemical cocktail, a cloud that hangs low in the air, are among those statistics on "cancer alley," also called one of the most hazardous stretches of highway in America. And then we have exposure to radiation. The GE crowd over at MSNBC, except for Ed Schultz, has refused to even acknowledge the studies conducted by the Radiation and Public Health Project. RPH isn't a fly-by-night operation, and their findings, published in academic journals, deserve  serious airing and consideration — what are the chances on the GE network? (Rhetorical question.)

Ironically, today the President trots out to inform us there's no cause for alarm ... before hightailing it out of Dodge and trotting up the steps of Air Force One on a trip south of the Rio Grande that will eventually land him in Brazil. Cool, eh? I wish I was heading that way too! Of course, the trip was pre-planned; still, the timing is, um ... amusing.

In more FREAK OUT news, there's a radioactive cloud that is scheduled to alight on the West Coast sometime tomorrow. It's the first wave, I guess, of TOTALLY harmless radioactivity from the Japanese nuclear catastrophe. At least that's what the "experts" say. Obviously, none of them live along cancer alley. After all, they know the hazards. Our government, what's left of it, with all those GOP cuts to the EPA, says it'll be monitoring the radioactivity as it makes its way to our shores. Radioactivity has been detected in planes coming in from Japan. Also, it should be noted that a huge threat in Japan is of fallout getting into the food chain. And if it makes its way over here, settling where milk-producing cattle graze, livestock feed, vegetables are grown ... I hope we'll have enough government inspectors to keep our food safe.

Are you feeling reassured, yet? I honestly tried not to be alarmist. (PSA: Geiger counters are still available on Amazon, eBay, etc. but stocks are dwindling. Better hurry.) A glimmer of hope: Electrical power has been restored at part of one plant, which raises the possibility the generators can be restarted and the cooling system restored. It this takes, the worst of the crisis — a full-scale meltdown, not to speak of massive release of radiation from spent fuel rod pools — may be averted.

Let's hope for the best.

Meanwhile, In Libya ...

A genocide looms as Khaddafi's forces rally and President Obama dithers.

The Libyan insurgents have no chance against Khaddafi's mercenary regulars, his weaponry, air force and gunboats, artillery and tanks. The President once again is reluctant to take decisive action — nor could it have been otherwise for this risk-averse President after Bob Gates put his foot down and said "no intervention, under any circumstances!" What was striking is not that Gates said it, but the vehemence of the statement; it suggests the President has basically delegated to Gates the military decisions on this (and other?) matters.

So far, President Obama is content to hide behind the UN Security Council, the Arab League, the amorphous "international community" that, in turn, take their cues from the United States. For example, if the U.S. insists upon it, the Arab League authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya, as does the UN Security Council, namely China and Russia. Even if they don't, the authority of the Arab League is sufficient for the U.S. to take action.

And the U.S. must act soon, if we are to avert an impending genocide by Khaddafi and his despicably arrogant son giving triumphalist interviews. They are poised to crush the people's uprising in Libya with malice aforethought and "rivers of blood," to coin a phrase used in the region. Acting under cover of the Japan disaster trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, it's almost as if Khaddafi was provoked into ruthless counterattack by President Obama's ill-advised statement that we are "tightening the noose" on the Libyan dictator.

Those are fighting words in any battleground in the world. You must be willing to back them up with action, Mr. President, lest we, the United States, become what President Nixon once described as a "pitiful, helpless giant." Whatever restraint the madman may have considered to avoid a U.S. attack was dissipated after he and his scumbag son figured out that we were all talk and no action.

It's a familiar scenario.

The insurgents, the people, rise up against the dictator in the vain hope that America, "the cavalry" will come to the rescue for the final takedown. But the "international community" has its own priorities. Priority One, is the free (as in unemcumbered) flow of Libyan oil. Our allies require leadership. In its absence, nations such as France step into the breach and begin making noises about a no-fly zone. In the absence of U.S. leadership, Russia and China dig in their heels. NATO remains divided. And so it goes. No one wants to interrupt the flow of Libyan oil, or take responsibility for owning a Libyan power vaccuum, as despicable as the Khaddafi clan may be.

It's a familiar and tragic scenario: Bosnia, Rwanda, the Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq during the First Gulf War. In that instance, loose talk from President George H.W. Bush, the usual Republican pablum about "freedom" and "democracy" — was taken seriously by the Kurds, who revolted against Saddam Hussein expecting the U.S. to intervene and save them from the brutal dictator who had used lethal force and poison gas against them. But U.S. forces were ordered to stand down, and no help came for the Kurds, not even air power to give them, at least, a fighting chance to beat back Saddam.

The Kurds were slaughtered by Saddam even as they begged and cried out for the U.S. to save them.

There is an eerie and unsettling similarity between the horrible genocide committed by superior military and paramilitary forces against a largely defenseless civilian population, and what is unfolding and about to happen in Libya, as Khaddafi and his son prepare to unleash all the might of their terroristic power and money against their enemy, the people of Libya, who are striving to be free as the international community stands by, pretending to be too preoccupied with the tragedy in Japan to notice the one in Libya.

It's sick and immoral. But Libya has oil. And oil trumps morality.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Think I Figured Out What's The Matter With President Obama ...

First, what do you call that sign in the background, considering the President's in the nuclear waste TANK with the nuclear power industry: Ironic? Overt subliminal secuction? A Freudian vid?

Evidently, the President can't seem to locate a comfortable enough pair of hush puppies, so maybe BOOTS will work better for him ... One of these days — after 2012? (Works either way ...)

MSNBC LIES About Three Mile Island Health Effects

First it was Cenk Uygur, and today a special report on MSNBC makes the FALSE CLAIM that there were no "deaths or long-term health effects connected to the accident." But they never mentioned studies by the Radiation and Public Health Project, including a "new analysis of health statistics in the region  found that death rates for infants, children, and the elderly soared in the first two years after the Three Mile Island accident in Dauphin and surrounding counties." (This directly contradicts what Big Eddie reported — see his "Takedown" below. I guess Big Eddie didn't get the memo from The MAN ...)

I e-mailed Cenk this information, so whose agenda are he and his superiors pushing at MSNBC — could it have anything to do with the fact that former NBC majority owner General Electric has designed Japan's stricken reactors and many of the reactors in operation in the U.S. today? For the MSNBC research hounds (did you find this, then it mysteriously disappeared from the final report, or what they gave Cenk to read?) here's the information contradicting your broadcast LIES about Three Mile Island:

Harrisburg, November 14, 2005 – A study of baby teeth measuring levels of Strontium-90, a radioactive chemical found only in nuclear weapons and reactors, has begun near the Three Mile Island nuclear plant.

The study is the first to analyze radioactivity in bodies of persons living near U.S. nuclear plants. The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) research group announced it is seeking donations of baby teeth at a press conference today in Harrisburg.

“This project will accomplish two goals,” said Joseph Mangano RPHP National Coordinator. “For the first time, we can understand how much radioactivity Three Mile Island has added to people’s bodies. And we can also determine if it is contributing to high local cancer rates.” Effects of both the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island’s unit 2, and ongoing operations at unit 1, will be explored.

Infants and children living in Dauphin County, where Three Mile Island is located, have high rates of disease and death, specifically:
  • Cancer death rate age 0-9, 1980-2002, 45% above U.S. (35 deaths)
  • Cancer incidence rate age 0-14, 1993-2002, 17% above U.S. (86 cases)
  • Infant death rate, age 0-27 days, 1979-2002, 23% above U.S. (600 deaths)
  • Child death rate, age 1-14, 1979-2002, 13% above U.S. (187 deaths)
  • Rate of births under 5 ½ lbs, 2000-2002, 37% above U.S. (994 births)
  • Excluding accidents, suicide, and homicide
RPHP began conducting the baby tooth study in 1998. It has tested over 4,500 teeth, mostly from areas near seven U.S. nuclear plants, and has published results in four medical journals. Strontium-90 levels have been consistently found to be highest near nuclear plants, and have risen sharply since the late 1980s. The chemical is released from nuclear reactors and enters the body through breathing, drinking, and eating. It attaches to bone and teeth, where it damages cells, and is most harmful to the infant and fetus.
Welcome to the world of crony capitalism as practiced by allegedly "liberal" MSNBC. Please note, boys and girls, that the nuclear technology for those stricken nuclear plants in Japan is from General Electric, with more in the pipeline. The stakes are significant, to say the least,  for GE which still owns 49% of NBC. I love Rachel, but she and her liberal colleagues are swimming in a shark's tank.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Notes From The Fringe: Maybe A Conspiracy Theory? NOT!

Yesterday on Hardball Chris Matthews tried painting an ideological distinction between our response to the nuclear crisis in Japan versus the secrecy and misinformation that characterized the Soviet disclosures following the Chernobyl disaster, back when communist Russia was in its death throes. Democracies (considering the release of information is coming mainly from Japanese authorities) are more caring for the people's welfare than authoritarian regimes, regardless of their ideology.

That is true — broadly speaking. But then a very interesting thing occurs: A consensus of views begins to crystallize in the media (mainly the electronic media, or TV-and radio- machine as Rachel likes to call it) all trending toward rosy and reassuring scenarios. There are valid reasons for this — news and government sources have a responsibility in times of extreme crisis to avoid panic in the population, especially when the information is incomplete and speculative. No need to raise concerns, say the experts, media elites, and government authorities — we'll do the worrying for you.

But then, isn't it interesting that the filthy (interchangeable adjective) rich millionaire media criers most vehemently attacking the legitimate concerns raised of a nuclear catastrophe are the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Larry Kudlow.  Is it just a coincidence that they stand to lose a significant portion of their investments if panic selling ensues and the world markets plunge as a result of the Japan Syndrome? Kudlow let the cat out of the bag when he said, "The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that." Kudlow gave voice to the NUMBER ONE concern of the right wing elites in this nation in the wake of the triple environmental disaster in Japan: preserving our economy and protecting their capitalist cronies. In this context, one can understands Lamar Alexander's lies and the Beck/Limbaugh agit-prop hysterics:

Of course, giving assurances about health and radiation exposure concerns in order to prevent a run on the markets, from governments' cost-benefit analysis, is a no-brainer as every effort (sometimes) is made to minimize casualties and victims. Most of us are invested in the stock market anyhow, so there is a natural tendency to tamp down the panic and ramp up the optimism. The thinking being, hey we can handle it, but there's plenty of people out there who will get hysterical and we don't need that.

It's a message management game that governments and media elites play in order to safeguard the short- and long-term health of the economy in times of crisis. The bottom line is, you can't listen to what the "experts" say to assess your personal risk of radiation exposure, or any kind of airborne environmental health hazard, for that matter. First of all, there is no level of radiation exposure that is considered safe. No one willingly submits to X-rays and CAT scans unless it's absolutely necessary. Second, if the threat's immediacy is removed, a kick-the-can-down-the-road attitude sets in regarding elevated cancers and exposure-related deaths several years down the road. That's what enables Alexander, Beck and Limbaugh to lie about it. Let's face it: Thousands of people die every year as a result of exposure to dangerous contaminants in "dirty" energy industry work such as coal, oil and gas. For Lamar Alexander and his capitalist cronies, that's just the cost of doing business.

When "civilians," as it were, are exposed, then a bit more message massaging and propaganda are required to allay fears and panic. But the principle is the same. From a cost-benefit analysis, there is an acceptable level of exposure and premature deaths that makes the victims expendable. This thinking is prevalent among crony capitalists, corporatists, wingnuts and libertarians — the fascists among us. (Note to Thom Hartmann: I believe in calling a spade a spade; besides, no one reads this blog, anyway.) Most of them would hardly face exposure to these environmental poisons and toxins, so it's just an abstraction to them, numbers on a screen, a positive cost-benefit analysis.

As we follow this unfolding crisis in Japan, with its terrible human toll, it's instructive to recall our government's reaction to the health hazard posed by the enormous toxic dust cloud from the collapsed twin towers in Manhattan hours after the 9/11 attacks. The EPA administrator was former NJ governor Christine Todd Whitman. She was considered a "moderate Republican" who cared about the environment. This was early into the George W. Bush administration. The EPA still had an unsullied reputation. Whitman put her cred with liberals and Democrats on the line by spreading the LIE that the air quality in Manhattan was "safe" to breathe.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, whose district includes Ground Zero grilled Whitman at a 2007 Congressional hearing on the health effects of 9/11: “Our government has knowingly exposed thousands of American citizens unnecessarily to deadly hazardous materials,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the subcommittee and a Manhattan Democrat whose district includes ground zero. “And because it has never admitted the truth, Americans remain at grave risk to this day.” Nadler and then-NY Senator Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement which said, in part:
"In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found that former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman's falsely reassuring and misleading statements of safety after the September 11, 2001 attacks were "without question conscience-shocking." The court also found the facts "support an allegation of a violation of the substantive due process right to be free from official government policies that increase the risk of bodily harm" by Whitman's misstatements regarding the air quality of the affected area. An EPA Inspector General review reached similar conclusions."
 I bring this up as a cautionary reminder of how the United States, a capitalist democratic state, reacted to an environmental crisis affecting thousands of people. Three years later, Senate Republicans were still trying to deny government health benefits to the surviving first responders — "heroes" they called them until the time came to take care of their health. It was only when Jon Stewart the "good" libertarian in his two-pony show intervened (because after all, he breathes the same air too when he drives into his "you go, I go" Lincoln Tunnel to eat oysters in Mahattan) that the Republicans were shamed into relenting.

The template is 9/11. What was the terrorist target in Manhattan: Wall Street. As Kudlow noted, the economy comes first. People are expendable when fortunes are on the line. And just because you invest in a geiger counter, or there's a run on iodine tablets, doesn't mean you're unreasonably paranoid.

Notes From The Fringe: More FREAK OUT News (Because We Can't Rely On The MSM)

Want to see how JAPAN SYNDROME nuclear radiation reaches our shores? Check out this link for the Jet Stream path, i.e. the ATMOSPHERIC EXPRESS, Japan-USA. Surf's up. Or keep an eye out for some extra pretty California sunsets in the coming days. Here's an Accuweather graphic of projected wind trajectories from the stricken reactor's site to U.S. and Canadian shores, with details from one of its blogs:

The wind direction may impact where the radiation goes both at a local level and even across the globe. The wind direction at both of these locations are similar since the Onagawa power plant is located just to the northeast of Fukushima power plant.

"The exact direction of the winds would have to be known at the time of the release of a large amount of radiation to understand exactly where the radiation would go," according to Expert Senior Global Meteorologist Jim Andrews. It is unknown when a large release of radiation would occur, if at all, at this point.

"You can calculate how long the release of a radiation would take to cross the Pacific from Japan to the U.S. by choosing different speeds that the radioactive particles might be moving and using the direct distance between given locations—say Sendai, Japan, and Seattle, Wash.," Andrews added.

However, even that calculation may not reflect how long the particle would take to cross the Pacific, since it would not likely cross the ocean in a direct path. This is the case because the wind flow is often a complicated pattern. A typical wind trajectory across the Pacific is westerly, since there is often a large dome of high pressure over the central Pacific and an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska. Any storm systems moving across the Pacific would add kinks in the westerly flow that would make the path of a particle crossing the Pacific longer. "In other words, it would be a very intricate and difficult calculation," said Andrews.
And the most deadly and frightening threat yet, which has hardly been broached at all by the MSM, is the release of plutonium fuel into the atmosphere:
Observers said the biggest threat is plutonium fuel. Only one Fukushima reactor uses plutonium-enriched uranium fuel known as MOX, or "mixed oxide" fuel. A hydrogen explosion at the No. 3 reactor on Sunday (March 13) injured 11 workers. So far, Japanese officials said the containment vessel in the No. 3 reactor appears to be holding. But it could take weeks or even months before the MOX fuel cools to levels that no longer threaten public safety.

"If there is a large-scale release of plutonium into the air this could become the worst nuclear disaster in history," predicted Ira Helfand, a member of the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "So far, the venting of radioactive steam has been blown out to sea, but tomorrow [March 15] the wind is forecast to shift to northeast which means any radiation released tomorrow will be blown straight toward Tokyo, which is less than 150 miles away."

A release of deadly plutonium would require heightened precautions to protect Japanese citizens, particularly if winds shift. Helfand said these would include staying indoors and testing water and foods supplies. "Most of the exposure to people at Chernobyl, for instance, was from children drinking contaminated milk that had not been tested," Helfand said, resulting in high rates of thyroid cancer in children.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Notes From The Fringe: Dr. Michio Kaku Says It's OK To FREAK OUT

But he didn't say it on American TV. NATURALLY.

Here's my layman's take: Don't believe a WORD the Japanese authorities say. The most accurate assessment is what was told to the Times by one official, that the nuclear plant operators are in "full panic mode." The latest announcement from the Japanese Prime Minister struck a more somber tone. He urged people within a designated 30-plus kilometer perimeter of the stricken nuclear plants to stay indoors in order to avoid radiation contamination, STRONGLY suggesting there has been a MAJOR release of radiation into the atmosphere.

My advice to Chris Jansing (I like her) is get the HELL OUT OF DODGE. The French and German governments (reportedly) have instructed their citizens to leave the country. The French Embassy in Tokyo said radiation could reach that city in 10 hours. The same advice goes for the rest of the media over there. Radiation is colorless, odorless, invisible, AND LETHAL. Unless they're carrying geiger counters, they would be wise to get away. Anderson Cooper doesn't seem to care, but Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who knows a little more about this kind of stuff, looks grim, and very uneasy being there.

Finally, do not believe much of what you hear on the MSM. Take it all in with a grain of salt. They've probably passed the word out at the production meetings not to alarm the viewers, etc. When it comes to the potential deadly hazards to health from widespread radiation contamination carried in the atmosphere, a little alarmism is a good thing. Government health department assurances from the U.S. and Canada that the radiation gets diffused in the atmosphere are meaningless, considering the worst-case scenario — a "China Syndrome" — without any yardstick as to the maximum levels of radioactivity that can be released into the atmosphere from THREE OR FOUR REACTORS PLUS SPENT FUEL RODS, WHOSE CONTAINMENT BUILDING IS REPORTEDLY ON FIRE.

The truth is, no one can say for sure how much radiation will eventually make its way in the Jet Stream to the United States and Canada, and how concentrated (rather than diffuse) it may be. If the media is going to hang around the area as a meltdown disaster unfolds at those plants, then take Dr. Michio Kaku's advice, and have a geiger counter on hand. As for the rest of us, stateside, is OK TO FREAK OUT! (Even Rachel, after her show is done ...)

Question Regarding Safety of Nuclear Plants In The U.S.

The disaster in Japan raised questions and concerns about the safety of U.S. plants; parallel concerns and lessons that may apply here; i.e., of earthquakes and tsunamis. Well, it was reported that the Japanese nuclear power plants were knocked out by the tsunami and not the earthquake. So, is there a concern that American nuclear plants may be vulnerable to increasingly severe flooding events, recorded over the past decade as a result of climate change? Floods wreacked much destruction on affected communities and knocked out power in areas that were under water, as in a tsunami. Wouldn't flood damage pose as potentially serious a problem to nuclear plants, similar to a tsunami water damage, if backup power fails? Just a thought, assuming there are nuclear plants in the U.S. built on flood zones.

What Separates Wingnuts From The Rest of Us

Answer: A lack of common decency and empathy. It's really true. Larry Kudlow, a former cokehead and right wing business guru, pontificates on "business channel" CNBC, along with Jim Cramer, the clown who dispenses bad investment advice (Matthews likes him; 'nuff said) and Rick Santelli, the jackass whose rant on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange is said to have given rise to the Tea Party. This trio alone ranks CNBC as serious contender for FREAK SHOW co-dependent with Fox, and a prime reason sane people should avoid it like the plague. Kudlow made this unbelievably crass statement about the tragedy in Japan: "The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that."

As Joe Conason wrote in 1999 about Kudlow's CLASS SKATING, a topic as relevant today as EVER:
"First, let's consider the typical drug defendant, who as we all know is likely to be a young jobless male without a high school diploma. A disproportionate number also are black or Latino. The average sentence for narcotics possession meted out to this typical defendant is roughly four years behind bars, according to statistics compiled by the Justice Department.

Upon conviction, the prospects for this typical offender are poor, since he is unlikely to receive treatment and will eventually emerge into society with a criminal record that leaves him pretty much unfit for any kind of work except the criminal conduct that sent him to prison in the first place.

Now let's examine the contrasting case of a more fortunate druggie — a prominent Reaganite not altogether unlike the current Republican presidential front-runner. Lawrence Kudlow, the conservative Ivy-educated son of a rich New Jersey businessman, once served as chief economist for the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan administration. Later, he earned $1 million a year at the investment house of Bear Stearns. He was also a cocaine addict who checked into the Hazelden clinic in 1995, after he blacked out and his third wife threatened to divorce him.

Following successful treatment, the reformed Kudlow has told his sad story on television and returned to the good graces of his sympathetic fellow Republicans. He currently advises the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on tax and budget policy, no doubt urging big cuts in domestic spending (including publicly funded drug treatment programs for those who can't afford Hazelden or the Betty Ford Clinic).

In short, Kudlow has benefitted from liberal attitudes toward drug abuse, which prescribe medicalization rather than criminalization. Among his Republican peers, however, that kinder, gentler approach is considered too lenient to be applied to the poor."

If those hypocrites in the high councils of Marbles-Mouth media were consistent, and applied the same sanctions across the board as they have meted out to, oh ... Keith Olbermann and David Schuster, Kudlow the cokehead would be fired outright. What are the odds? Less than zero.

TEA PARTY Remedial Education: Jeeeee-SAHS Made Walker Do IT!

Ye old diabetic farts in yer three-point hats ever stop to THINK CRITICALLY about why the Founding Fathers insisted on a "wall of separation" (Jefferson's words) between church and state? Well, for starters, their forbears settled in this country to escape religious persecution  —  STATE  RELIGION.  Secondly, they were acutely aware of the abuses committed by government in the name of religion, and wanted no part of it. Now we learn where Wisconsin Gov. Walker's authoritarian impulse comes from; he never listened to the people because he believes he answers to a higher authority.

Walker, who was raised by a Baptist preacher, gave a talk to the "Christian Businessman's Committee" in Madison in 2009 in which he confessed his fundamentalist religious beliefs:
“I said, ‘Lord, I’m ready . . . not just in front of my Church and the world but most importantly at the foot of your Throne, I’m ready to follow you each and every day. . . . I have just full out there said, ‘I’m going to trust in you Christ to tell me where to go. And to the best of my ability I’m going to obey where you lead me,’ and that has made all the difference in the world to me, for good times and bad.”

Walker said that God has told him what to do every step of the way, including about what jobs to take, whom to marry, and when to run for governor.

When he had first met his wife, he said, “That night I heard Christ tell me, ‘This is the person you’re going to be with.’ ”

He said he was trusting and obeying God when he took a job at IBM and then at the Red Cross. ““Lord, if this is what you want, I’ll try it,” he said. It was all about “trust and obey.”

He added: “God had a plan further down the road. Little did I know I just had to trust in Christ and obey what he calls me to do and that was going to work out.”

Fourteen months later, at his inaugural prayer breakfast, Walker said, “The Great Creator, no matter who you worship, is the one from which our freedoms are derived, not the government.”

Walker’s views disturb Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

“It is frightening that the highest executive in our state suffers from the delusion that God dictates his every move,” she says. “Consider the personal and historic devastation inflicted by fanatics who think they are acting in the name of their deity.”  
There's no reasoning or compromise with someone who believes his actions are being directed by God and therefore he answers to no one, including the wishes of his constituents. Essentially, that's the  leadership profile of a theocrat, precisely the type of government the Founding Fathers wanted to guard against. Thomas Paine, whose memory has been highjacked and distorted by Teabaggers and Beck, was a progressive, a LIBERAL by today's definition. Or by the Teabagger definition, a SOCIALIST. Paine wrote in The Age of Reason, selected excerpts:
"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

But, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

"The opinions I have advanced… are the effect of the most clear and long-established conviction that the Bible and the Testament are impositions upon the world, that the fall of man, the account of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and of his dying to appease the wrath of God, and of salvation by that strange means, are all fabulous inventions, dishonorable to the wisdom and power of the Almighty; that the only true religion is Deism, by which I then meant, and mean now, the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues-and that it was upon this only (so far as religion is concerned) that I rested all my hopes of happiness hereafter."

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity."
It's ironic that if Paine were around today he would very likely be contemptuous of the Teabaggers and Wisconsin Governor Walker. Faced with Walker's power grab, in violation of the wishes of the governed citizens of Wisconsin, Paine would have said this:
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary  evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
When he wrote these words, Paine had in mind a petulant, arrogant dictator like Walker, on a grander colonial scale. Not the nonsense spouted by Teabaggers and libertarians about getting government out of the way to allow rich and powerful corporate monopolies to rule without checks and balances. Paine quite clearly explained where he stood:
"Government and the people do not in America constitute distinct bodies"

"And therefore it is to the good of the whole, as well as to the interest of the individual, that every one, who can, sets himself down to his business, and contributes his quota of taxes as one of the first duties he owes to his family, to himself, and to his country."
We remind the Teabaggers of this all the time. What's all this talk about a "tyrannical government"? WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE THE GOVERNMENT! There's no more stark an illustration of this principle than the popular uprising in Wisconsin against Walker, the dictatorial governor. The people of Wisconsin are solidly opposed to what he is doing and they are taking action to recall their government and undo Walker's hideous anti-union, anti-democratic law. The second paragraph of Paine's (above) is as succinct a statement of LIBERAL VALUES as there is, Teabaggers. Read it and weep.

Oh and by the way, Teabaggers: That great EVIL in your minds, Social Security, guess who first proposed it. And guess how he intended to pay for it. (Maybe that's why John Boehner can't stop crying.) The truth hurts, don't it? FOOLS.

But how can I forget ... what THE HELL would you Teabaggers know about history when your CAUCUS LEADER in Congress FAILS BASIC FIFTH GRADE HISTORY:

"News" Anchor in America = IDIOT

"I don't take positions. I'M AN ANCHOR."
Megyn, you've said it! Only ... in your case, MISS DUMBASS, the one thing has nothing to do with the other. 

PS - Good career move, Megyn, flashing your bod and (fake?) boobs as a GQ playmate. (Did Rupert & Roger pick your venue?) At least you know your place as lead barbie doll in the lecherous  R&R FOXES STABLE.


As noted earlier, CNN's Don Lemon interviewed a Georgia Tech professor shilling for the nuclear energy industry who gave a completely biased take on the seriousness of the stricken nuclear reactors in Japan. Lemon took it all in, uncritically, then, reading from a report issued by the plant's operators that radiation levels at the reactor were still "within legal limits," he opined that the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was "FINE."

Oh, really? Not only is Lemon not qualified to render such a breezy opinion based on incomplete (and biased) information, but he and CNN failed to solicit a broad range of expert opinion on the seriousness of the nuclear plant disaster in Japan from objective scientists who aren't as clearly biased in favor of the nuclear industry as their Georgia Tech "expert" was. Considering they have personnel on site, including Anderson Cooper and his ambivalent death wish, at the very least they have a responsibility to report on this issue soberly, carefully, skeptically, and without making optimistic leaps of faith based on sketchy and incomplete information.

Following Lemon's foray into DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY fantasyland, this is the REALITY that is being reported from various news sources:
  • A U.S. carrier detected radioactivity on several crew members after they returned from helicopter rescue missons in Japan;
  • The U.S. Navy "SHIFTED" its naval vessels AWAY from the Japanese coast after detecting "low-level radioactive contamination" 100 miles offshore:
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) offshore when it detected the radiation, which U.S. officials said was about the same as one month's normal exposure to natural background radiation.

It was not clear if the radiation had leaked during the Monday explosion. That blast was felt 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, but the plant's operator said radiation levels at the reactor were still within legal limits.
  • The New York Times reports that "operators fear that if they cannot establish control, despite increasingly desperate measures to do so, the reactors could experience meltdowns, which would release catastrophic amounts of radiation."
  • And: "In what was perhaps the clearest sign of the rising anxiety over the nuclear crisis, both the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Russian authorities issued statements on Sunday trying to allay fears, saying they did not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach their territory."

Here's video of the second reactor explosion:

FINE AND DANDY, eh ... Don?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

100,000 "Whiny Freeloaders" Protest in Wisconsin — RECALL MANIA!

That's what the Pigman called the 100,000 union workers, teachers, nurses, firefighters, students, and farmers driving tractors who descended on Madison, Wisconsin to continue their protest of Gov. Wanker's union-busting law. The Fab Fourteen Democratic state senators who fled to Illinois to deny Wanker the quorum he wanted to ram his bill through returned to a hero's welcome from the people of Wisconsin. They achieved what they had set out to do: slow the process down to give the people time to absorb what it is Wanker was trying to do to them. (Did I misspell his name? I don't think so; he started out trying to screw the people of Wisconsin and ended up screwing himself.)

People are waking up everywhere. Recall petitions for the state Republican senators are well underway. Wanker, who isn't eligible until 2012, is next.
Dozens of fist-pumping farmers drew cheers as they chugged around the Capitol square in tractors bearing signs with messages such as "planting the seeds for a big season of recalls."

Tod Pulvermacher, 33, of Bear Valley, towed a manure spreader carrying a sign that read, "Walker's bill belongs here."

"Farmers are working-class Americans," he said as the crowd cheered. "We work for a living as hard as anybody, and this is about all of us."
 I'd like to see the Pigman call this farmer a "whiny freeloader" to his face:


CNN's coverage of the Earthquake/Tsunami catastrophe in Japan isn't very good, but it's all we're left with in this celebrity-obsessed (Charlie Sheen, WINNING!) media wasteland; paging AL JAZEERA!  Although we should avoid second-guessing the Japanese government's handling of this extreme disaster, the frightening possibility of a meltdown in one or more of their damaged nuclear power plants can quickly turn this into a global existential crisis. It's a Hollywood disaster flick come true: an extreme natural disaster doubling down on the worst kind of man-made disaster — a nuclear power plant meltdown.

The Japanese authorities have a critical situation to deal with while search-and-rescue operations are just getting underway and international assistance starts trickling in. A major consideration is how to balance full or partial disclosure without causing panic in an already shocked and dazed population. It's not an easy choice. But if the initial coverup and confused disclosures by the Russians of the Chernobyl disaster are any indication — and only after arm-twisting from the international community — then the Japanese government would be wise to follow a policy of full and rapid disclosure. That they are considering the distribution of iodine tablets to the population to prevent the absorption by the body of radiation is a necessary but hardly reassuring step.

CNN's moronic anchors — trouble knocks when Wolf Blitzer is the best they've got — interviewed one nuclear engineer from Georgia Tech (I'm beginning to warm to the secessionists) who was little more than a shill for the nuclear power industry. In an earlier segment, Bill Nye the "Science Guy" expressed more balanced skepticism of the information Japanese authorities were divulging, or not. One expert described their flooding of the stricken reactor with sea water to cool it down to "subcritical" levels as a "Hail Mary" attempt, while the Georgia Tech prof would have us believe everything was just fine and dandy and under control. Yeah, right.

When a potential nuclear catastrophe such as this one looms, the international community led by the United States must be on top of the situation, monitoring the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere and prioritizing the resources necessary to contain a catastrophic meltdown. Bill Nye suggested/requested that we train some of our weather satellites on the region to monitor the possible release of radioactivity. It seems clear the Japanese government is not being totally forthcoming about what's going on with their nuclear reactors as another two may be experiencing critical cooling problems. If the worst-case scenario occurs — a meltdown that cannot be contained, in one or more of those reactors — then the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster becomes a global catastrophe.

Here's hoping they can contain it. Otherwise, we're in deep Doo-Doo.

Intensive radiation leakage from a nuclear plant meltdown respects no borders or geographic limits on earth. Once it gets into the atmosphere and is picked up by the Jet Stream, as one expert noted, it can travel all the way to the west coast of the United States and beyond. It will also blanket the Asia-Pacific regions in its path, including Australia and Hawaii. Remember the BP oil spill and the fair perception of the administration's initial passive reaction? President Obama can ill afford the repetition of a hesitant reaction to another environmental disaster. Message drives "optics" but leadership drives perception. 

Here's how you can help the victims of Japan's earthquake/tsunami.

Ground View of Japan's Tsunami — Amazing Video: