Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cool Baiting the Hot Switch

Alexander Cockburn:

...Here on earth, the Gaian crowd are all devotees of the Man-Made Global Warming Cult, which this last week, in the world of the real, fulfilled its basic mission of smoothing the way for the renaissance of nuclear power, with Obama announcing last Tuesday, February 16, – see Karl Grossman’s useful piece on this site last week - that his administration is moving ahead on $8.3 billion in federal government loan guarantees to build new nuclear plants.

“My budget proposes tripling the loan guarantees we provide to help finance safe, clean nuclear facilities,” Obama proclaimed on Tuesday, referring to a DOE plan which would add $36 billion and bring the loan guarantee fund to $54.5. The $8.3 billion in loan guarantees is to go toward the Southern Company of Atlanta constructing two nuclear power reactors in Burke, Georgia. These are to be AP1000 nuclear power plants designed by the Westinghouse nuclear division (now owned by Toshiba) although in October the designs were rejected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as likely being unable to withstand events like tornadoes and earthquakes.

Yes, Obama did denounce the dangers of nuclear power on the campaign trail. And yes, he has always been in receipt of hefty campaign funds from the nuclear industry. The huge nuke corporation Exelon donated $200,000 to Obama's 2008 election campaign and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and prime political advisor David Axelrod, have links to the company. And yes, on February 1, the Obama administration unveiled a budget in which both of the University of California’s s weapons labs would receive huge boosts in government funding. The proposed funding increase of 23 per cent at Los Alamos would be the facility's largest since 1944. Much of that funding is for a new factory to produce plutonium bomb cores, the explosive triggers of modern thermo-nuclear warheads, for the purpose of outfitting the first new nukes to be developed since the end of the Cold War.

You can trace the hand of the nuclear power lobby in the confection of the global warming scare as far back as the 1970s. It’s been a four-decade push which took a giant step towards fruition last Tuesday. A quarter of a century ago, nuclear power was dead in this country, so far as new plant construction as concerned. In the wake of Obama’s announcement last week, there were some bleats from the greens, some pro forma yaps from the big Green organizations, but nothing with real teeth. The executives at these big green outfits knew long ago that this was a “bait and switch” exercise. Watch Obama festoon the requests for the new nuke plant licenses with all manner of pleasing drapery about “cap and trade” and so forth. It’s meaningless.
The camel is in the tent and if you look down, there’s another camel’s nose coming through. On Thursday February 18, Obama formally signed into law the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, an admittedly non-binding presidential commission on entitlements and the deficit. The air is thick with Obamian self congratulation about Doing the Right Thing, whatever the political cost. The line from the Democratic strategists is that this is all mere positioning for the fall elections and in due course the Commission will fire off a couple of blanks and then quit the stage of history.

What does the president really think about cutting the social safety net? As I remarked last week, To ask which is the “real” Obama is to drift towards the illusion of thinking there is one – as opposed to an infinitely mutable organism, endlessly adapting to political circumstance, with an eye eternally cocked to the main chance. Nonetheless, everything Obama has done so far suggests that by philosophical disposition and political instinct he’s a neoliberal eager to please the elites and can thus be counted on, when the chips are down, to do the wrong thing. After the second camel’s nose could well come the unmistakable hump of a bipartisan compromise, eroding basic social protections and delighting Wall Street.

There’s a gift for the grandchildren! Retirement postponed to 72, and benefits slashed. Hunker down in your shanty next to the new nuclear power plant and spend your last remaining dollars on the mandatory health insurance policy. Thank you, President Obama...

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