Monday, February 1, 2010

Musings: Audacity to Hope

The Big Dipper and big moon formed a triangle with big Mars pointing to big-topped Waialeale when Koko and I went walking on this brisk, clear morning.

As we neared the end of the road, I saw a pack of dogs, which was unusual, although sometimes pig hunters do go out on moonlit nights, even though it's illegal, and as they began trotting toward us, Koko whined and pressed against my legs, which was also unusual, since she's typically a little tita.

I picked her up, and as the dogs approached, I knew I had to be firm and show no fear. “Chhha,” I said in a loud, deep voice, stomping my foot, and the lead dog whimpered, tucked his tail and ran mauka, as the rest of the pack followed.

Ah, if only we could so easily banish far more serious threats, like the way the nation is hurtling toward an expansion of nuclear power as Obama continues to suck up to conservative Republicans who will never be satisfied no matter how many concessions he grants.

He’s seeking $54 billion in loan guarantees for construction of nuke plants, with talk of an additional 180 reactors being built by 2050. As the Associated Press reported:

The nuclear energy industry is waiting to see what else the administration will deliver. Its wish list includes more financing for loan guarantees, as well as tax incentives for nuclear energy manufacturing and production facilities.

Equally disturbing is the rhetorical spin that’s being put on this toxic technology to help sell it to a justifiably wary public. We've got Obama talking about “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants,” as if such a feat is truly possible, and AP reporting:

The 104 nuclear reactors in operation in 31 states provide only 20 percent of the nation's electricity. But they are responsible for 70 percent of the power from pollution-free sources, including wind, solar and hydroelectric dams.

Ummm, since when did nuclear reactors become “pollution-free” power sources? We still haven’t figured out that thorny disposal problem, other than to “store” it on sacred lands.

As an aside, our own Sen. Gary Hooser has introduced a bill that would require a two-thirds vote of the Lege for the construction of new fossil fuel power plants, as is currently required before building nuclear reactors.

Obama also wants to increase spending on the US nuclear arsenal by more than $5 billion over the next five years, as if we don't have enough nukes to destroy everything and everyone already, and is asking for a $44 billion increase in the Pentagon’s budget — all while cutting domestic spending. As Democracy Now! reports:

Obama is seeking the extra money despite a pledge to cut the US arsenal and seek a nuclear weapons-free world.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration attorneys who came up with the legal justification for torture won’t even get a slap on the wrist. Ethics investigators initially concluded they had “violated their professional obligations as lawyers,” according to a report in USA Today, which could have resulted in sanctions.

But in keeping with the Obama policy of concession, that was softened by one of his Justice Department appointees to they simply showed “poor judgment.” So John Yoo and Jay Bybee can continue to exercise that poor judgment, unchastened, in their current positions as UC Berkeley law professor and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, respectively.

I guess that’s what we get for having the audacity to hope that things might be any way other than business as usual, even with a new guy on the job.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nuclear power “pollution-free” what a joke. Half life of plutonium (the most toxic substance on earth) 10,000 years - Jesus born 2010 years ago. All of recordedd history about 5,000 years. You do the math.

Casey said...

While nuclear power is far from pollution free, it is carbon free, which is nothing to be sneezed at. Renewables are a great goal, but they aren't economic enough on the massive scale required. Nuclear, as dirty as it can be, may be central to our quest for carbon-free power.

Sadly, the environmental community is too fragmented to lobby effectively. After all, we still can't agree that wind power is a good idea!

Kolea said...

Hi Joan!

While I agree with most of what you say here, I think you are making a mistake when you frame this as part of Obams continuing effort to "suck up to conservative Republicans."

Obama ain't sucking up to Republicans on this. He is sucking up to the nuclear industry and, for that matter, to the so-called "clean coal" industry." Just as his healthcare "reform" was congenitally flawed by his "sucking up" to Big Pharma and the insurance companies from the get go.

Or how he "failed" to put any strings on the bail out of the Wall Street mega-banks.

Obama's not a progressive guy who's is just "too nice" or naive in his efforts to "reach across the aisle" to the "Party of No." It is not as if he has to "learn" to abandon his faith in "bi-partisanism." Obama has this long-established pattern of sucking up to the corporate elite who run this country because he's their guy.

His agenda IS the corporate agenda. Perhaps a bit more multi-lateral than the Bush-Cheney policies. Perhaps serving a broader swath of the corporate elite than in the Bush years. But I have seen no evidence Obama ever intends to confront the corporate elite in anything other than a symbolic, photo op moment, like his "anti-Bank comments in the SOTU address.

How's about renewing Glass-Stegall? Not gonna happen if he and Rahm have their way.

While many of us had HOPED Obama's victory represented a sea change, it turns out we have to shed our illusions and figure meaningful ways of making demands upon him, and Congress, if we want him to EVER be the new FDR, transformative figure we thought we would be getting when we voted for him.

Anonymous said...

more nuk energy tech is prob a good idea, as long as the regulatory agency on that gets better (heard some years back they had basically been captured by the industry)


"Obama has this long-established pattern of sucking up to the corporate elite who run this country because he's their guy."

-- or, he is good at reading the power structure of a room, community, city, state, nation, etc and figuring out how to chess match play the situation so at the end of the day something good is achieved. it is a big part of what a political leader does. the concept of compromise also plays into this. if one thinks this is easy, and thinks they could do much better, they should run for office (or run a company, NGO, etc)


"no evidence Obama ever intends to confront the corporate elite"

-- so the boost in pharma lobbying does not suggest they feel "confronted" etc? but lets see a strong bank reform effort, that will show much as to what you describe


as to FDR, easy guy to like - but lets not forget he was not above threatening to pack the supreme court, had the IRS pester opponents, and was basically willing to do nothing for blacks


just my thoughts. thanks


dwps

Anonymous said...

"I guess that’s what we get for having the audacity to hope that things might be any way other than business as usual"

When hope dies, action begins.

Also - off point. Is Garden Island delaying its website a full day? Up-to-date web site is only reason I get the paper paper (which I don't read). Guess gotta cancel that subscription.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, folks.

As for TGI web site, it also seems to me that key stories are either not appearing on-line anymore, or are posted late.

jackbauer said...

This is NO good, the wording is terrible just like that other one that was on the ballot and everyone thought it meant the opposite.

________The question to be printed on the ballot shall be as follows:

"To promote the development and use of renewable energy and the State's energy security, shall the construction of new petroleum, coal, or nuclear power plants within the State be prohibited except when prior approval of two-thirds of each house of the legislature is obtained?"

That wording sucks.! Is it intentional? Because that little freak Abercrombie would sure go for a nuclear plant.

jackbauer said...

Donʻt you just hate ballot questions that you have to spread the word on which way to vote?
I mean I understand it but I find myself being very careful Iʻm not picking the wrong way with my yes or no.

Come on you fng twits in office, I know you cheat on tax but what? you cut class in english too?

Dr Freddy said...

I am not a physicist nor expert in nuclear energy. I don't know about what is the latest technology to convert Nuclear Power waste management. Perhaps there would be a way to re-cycle Earth's toxic radiation after the uranium is used up for power, and some how recycle it into a positive thing. We need a process, we need some innovation, and scientific creation.
But.....
We are way behind in science and technology. Our kids rank just below Slovakia in math and science.... and our politicians have no original new ideas to offer. Throwing money at a problem will not solve anything...but make some people rich.

Innovation has to come from the grass roots individuals and small businesses who are striving to go "green" on energy because we are getting too crowded and use too many resources to be sustained .

The government has no clue and is easily influenced by special interest groups with money and power.

We will have to change ourselves to adapt to the changes in Nature. Or we won't survive very well. Waiting for any kind of "enlightenment" from any politician ...to solve these energy problems....well, don't hold your breath!

I have been reading a great book on the plane back from a visit to my grandkids....by Thomas L. Friedman: Hot, Flat and Crowded.
He posts some great solutions to where we can begin to re-create how we use energy and feed ourselves in the future...without negative impacts on the environment.

Dr Freddy said...

I am not a physicist nor expert in nuclear energy. I don't know about what is the latest technology to convert Nuclear Power waste management. Perhaps there would be a way to re-cycle Earth's toxic radiation after the uranium is used up for power, and some how recycle it into a positive thing. We need a process, we need some innovation, and scientific creation.
But.....
We are way behind in science and technology. Our kids rank just below Slovakia in math and science.... and our politicians have no original new ideas to offer. Throwing money at a problem will not solve anything...but make some people rich.

Innovation has to come from the grass roots individuals and small businesses who are striving to go "green" on energy because we are getting too crowded and use too many resources to be sustained .

The government has no clue and is easily influenced by special interest groups with money and power.

We will have to change ourselves to adapt to the changes in Nature. Or we won't survive very well. Waiting for any kind of "enlightenment" from any politician ...to solve these energy problems....well, don't hold your breath!

I have been reading a great book on the plane back from a visit to my grandkids....by Thomas L. Friedman: Hot, Flat and Crowded.
He posts some great solutions to where we can begin to re-create how we use energy and feed ourselves in the future...without negative impacts on the environment.

Anonymous said...

looks to me like the question is prodding toward a "yes" vote if you ask me. It's like it's saying, "vote yes To promote the development and use of renewable energy and the State's energy security," which, if you ask me, is assbackwards from reality, but whatever.

Anonymous said...

"We are way behind in science and technology. Our kids rank just below Slovakia in math and science"

-- that is a bit misleading. the US university system is still the envy of the world, and for good reason


"our politicians have no original new ideas to offer"

-- eh, the ARRA funds will push forward a heck of alot of green/clean tech. not a super original idea (what the DOE is doing), but it sure is on a big scale across a spectrum of industries. a pretty sound long term investment, in my view


"The government has no clue and is easily influenced by special interest groups with money and power."

-- largely not true (but yes, its a fun, populist-oriented thing to say). recent tech funding, for example, has been pretty merit based (with legacy auto aid being an exception of sorts)


"Thomas L. Friedman: Hot, Flat and Crowded."

-- kinda overrated and repetitive


dwps

jackbauer said...

Well if you count over 400 scientists that have been murdered since about 2001, Iʻd say thereʻs no scientists or maybe itʻs starting to look like a high risk profession...
Hmmmm now who would have had that done?

Anonymous said...

seems the skin heads think the jews are behind it

http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=89664

..if one wants to jump on that bandwagon..


dwps

Anonymous said...

"The government has no clue and is easily influenced by special interest groups with money and power."

"-- largely not true (but yes, its a fun, populist-oriented thing to say). recent tech funding, for example, has been pretty merit based (with legacy auto aid being an exception of sorts) "

You've got to be kidding. Why do you think all that money is spent on lobbying? You've never heard of Jack Abramoff, Tom Daschle, Tom DeLay, K Street, tobacco lobbyists, pharmacy lobbyists, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Did you hear that Dr. Becky Rhoades got caught for having her dog on the bike path, in an area that dogs are not allowed, and got cited for it? Unreal!