Friday, May 25, 2012

Is It 1950 or what?

During the slavery era in the U.S. the affluent white population was naturally of two minds about the black population, being as how a large one brought high profits but also a certain vulnerability. The dictum, We are many, they are few applied no less then than now, and then, as now, the 1% gets uncomfortable when the more numerous segment gets restless, starts questioning the 1%-ordained order of things and begins to realize the  latent power in its numbers.

So, Quitman, Georgia: 67% black and 40% in the greater Brooks County area, on the Georgia/Florida border. Public funds in Brooks County are primarily controlled by the school board, mostly white good ol’ boys. Along come uppity Quitman black citizens running for school board. Frustrated by their repeated failure they decide that absentee ballots stand a better chance of actually being counted so they organize a campaign of getting folks to vote absentee. They win. Now the school board is majority black. The board has turned over a new leaf so-to-speak and in so doing the budget is now balanced and without the lay-offs, tax increases and down-sizing planned by the previous board. Apparently this is unacceptable. The GBI and local law enforcement raid and arrest the newly elected board members and descend on those citizens who voted absentee, entering their homes and intimidating with aggressive interrogation aimed at ferreting out (or perhaps inventing) voter fraud. “Why did you vote the way you did?” “Who helped you vote?” Where were these folks while Bush was stealing the Florida vote? Since the board members are now under “indictment” good ol’ boy Governor Nathan Deal demonstrates what he meant when he promised us that “new deal” by using a questionable Georgia law to suspend the new board members and return the board to its former complexion.

The Quitman 10+2 (twelve citizens were indicted in the alleged fraud) adopted three strategies in response:

Challenge the criminal charges in court (which have been reduced by the way);
Challenge the law Governor Deal used to suspend as a violation of the voting rights act;
Run again in the up-coming election.

The first strategy seems a slam-dunk since the charges are ridiculous and wafer thin. The second doesn’t seem to be getting much traction since Obama’s Socialist Muslim administration has been rubber-stamping changes Georgia has made which require federal approval. The third entails the difficulty of over-coming a smear campaign by the good ol’ boy network that has labeled the candidates criminals and played, of course, the racial card. It is however no longer 1950 in Georgia. Voters are less likely to support corrupt leadership based simply on racial manipulation – proof being that the candidates won in a white majority county before they were disenfranchised. The local district attorney has disqualified his office from the trial since the School Board chair works in his office but it was that office that made the original charges – charges that, as mentioned, have been reduced. The appointed lawyer conducting the prosecution has made public statements violating the presumption of innocence that all defendants are entitled to. In the opinion forums accompanying articles about this controversy you can see the polarization around race, the stereotyping of “blacks marching to avoid justice”, and a presumption of guilt and a defense of the indicted persons based on presumptions of white racism and domination. This essay obviously is sympathetic to the latter camp. We shall see what happens as the legal process inches its way along. Arraignment is scheduled for May 29.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wrong Horse

The apparently irresistible campaign contributions and lobbying that seduced national and state legislators into signing onto privatization and deregulation schemes over the past decades brought us the current economic mess. The push for nuclear power is more of the same, kind of a group-think, ideological commitment unimpeded by critical analysis and driven by an eyes-on-profits fixation. Under-funded anti-nuclear groups across the planet have been trying to make the following points for years about nuclear power:
• Expensive, not competitive with wind/solar, conservation
• Creates extremely long-lived radioactive waste with NO storage solution after more than 50 years
• To terrorists a nuke plant is a pre-positioned nuclear device
• If nukes are safe why won’t the insurance companies cover them?
• Use way too much water & create thermal pollution
• Routinely release toxins into soil, air, river and ground water
These defects are not adequately addressed by the Department of Energy (DOE), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) nor the industry, all apparently captured by the above described fixation.
The dangers of terrorism and insider sabotage at Nuclear sites
• nuclear power plants have shown lax security with 50% penetration in mock attacks, even when security KNEW the dates & times of infiltration.
• Cooling ponds are even more vulnerable than the reactors themselves. The spent fuel in these ponds would burst into flames if exposed to air, dispersing radioactivity widely, creating very long-term dead zones.
• It is very doubtful whether a reactor could withstand impact from a 911-style airliner attack
• the obvious should be noted, that wind and solar panels do not spread extremely long-lived toxins when blown up.
Water Usage
• The two new reactors contemplated at Plant Vogtle on the Savannah River would use the equivalent of the residential water use of Savannah, Augusta and Atlanta, an impact the NRC, during a time of severe drought, incredibly labeled “not significant”.
• The water that is returned to the river is at high temperatures, negatively impacting river habitat
• The water that is lost, 2/3, as vapor, is a global warming gas.

Nuclear Power reactors create something that did not exist prior to the nuclear age, plutonium, a substance essential to making nuclear bombs. The separation between nuclear power and weapons, from the point of view of proliferation, is artificial, mere propaganda, an attempt to legitimate nukes rather than a real difference - the “peaceful atom”, “too cheap to meter” etc; In fact the two are sinister partners creating a large question mark over our future. A single ‘puck’ of plutonium (the size of a hockey puck) if properly dispersed, is toxic enough to cause lung cancer in every person on the planet. In a southern nutshell, nuclear power is the wrong horse.

The weapons program has brought us about 20,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy or render the planet uninhabitable. And the belligerent militarism that passes for U.S. foreign policy is teaching countries that wish to maintain their independence or pursue alternative paths to the “free market”, that possessing nuclear weapons may be their only chance of doing so. Incredibly, despite the end of the cold war, many of these weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, ready to launch-on-warning, locked into a lose’em-or-use’em scenario subject to serious malfunction and targeted on cities that pose no threat whatsoever to the United States. This is true insanity.

It is ironic and revealing that the ideological sector most loudly worshipping at the “free market” alter demands taxpayer subsidies for an industry that cannot compete in that market. The subsidies come in the form of loan guarantees, the costs of long-term storage of waste that is toxic for longer than recorded history, and in the Price-Anderson Act, this latter shifting the main burden of expense from an accident onto the taxpayer. In Japan the Government has no choice, it must assume the expense of dealing with the on-going Fukushima disaster since Tepco is not solvent enough to absorb what it will cost, no company is. As for nuclear weapons, to understand the psychology of the spouse or child batterer is to understand the psychology of militarism and profit obsession. This fear-based psychosis cannot be allowed to bring to a close the great experiment of consciousness. The hard truth for latent activists like this writer, who love nothing more than to leisurely wander in the friendly fields of art and culture, is the bitter fact that power cedes nothing without struggle.