Visual source: Newseum
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Janice Eisen provides a good summary of the evidence that Scott Walker's union-busting isn't about the budget, is directly connected to attempts to de-fund the Democratic Party, and is intended to make corporations the only viable source of political power.
When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United decision, which removed limits on corporate spending in election campaigns, liberals decried the increase in corporate influence this would bring. One common retort was that labor unions also would be allowed unlimited spending. But a year later, the GOP is going after the unions, not just in Wisconsin but in other states, with the apparent aim of giving Republicans a fundraising monopoly.
I think you could removed the word "apparent" and substitute "obvious."
Looking at power of a different kind, physicist Frank N. von Hippel says that there are real dangers inherent in nuclear power, not the least of which is the chummy attitude between regulators and industry, one that has given reactors a kind of "safe unless proven otherwise" status.
Nuclear power is a textbook example of the problem of "regulatory capture" — in which an industry gains control of an agency meant to regulate it. Regulatory capture can be countered only by vigorous public scrutiny and Congressional oversight, but in the 32 years since Three Mile Island, interest in nuclear regulation has declined precipitously.
Events in Japan have the public watchful... for the moment, but how soon will it be before we, and the people doing inspections, go back to sleep?
Meanwhile, at New Scientist the question is how to free nuclear power from decades of reactors based off those used for weapons programs and military operations.
One legacy of the cold war origins of nuclear power has been public distrust. Even though nuclear energy generation has killed far fewer people than many other energy sources, it remains the most feared of all power generation technologies.
Another legacy is engineering compromise. Because most nuclear power plants have been adapted from reactors developed for military applications, they are not necessarily the best designs. Of those, a handful of plants are notorious: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima.
If it's possible to create "clean sheet" designs that are inherently safe, why aren't those the kind of plants people are proposing to build?
One reason is institutional inertia. It is so much easier to license a plant of known design, based on decades of experience, than spend time, effort and possibly a lot of money developing a novel design.
Dana Milbank makes it clear that he doesn't think much of Anthony Weiner (not exactly shocking news), but thinks even less of the way most Democrats are hiding from the health care debate.
In general, neither Democrats nor Republicans lack for hotheads. But in this case, Weiner’s brand of politics has some merit. As Republicans push daily to undermine the new law, the Democrats play under Marquess of Queensberry rules, answering the opposition’s often-scurrilous allegations with earnest pleas not to "relitigate" the past. In wishing away the fight, they are losing it.
If you've been wondering just who "they" is in "they said people in the Middle East couldn't handle democracy," apparently they is Thomas Friedman.
This is the question because there are two kinds of states in the Middle East: "real countries" with long histories in their territory and strong national identities (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran); and those that might be called “tribes with flags,” or more artificial states with boundaries drawn in sharp straight lines by pens of colonial powers... They have no real “citizens” in the modern sense. Democratic rotations in power are impossible because each tribe lives by the motto “rule or die” — either my tribe or sect is in power or we’re dead.
So, the question seems to be: how many Friedman units does it take to be considered a real country? The world may never know.
Linda Greenhouse takes a look at this year's Supreme Court decisions a third of the way through the session, and finds that so far corporations don't seem to be getting the red carpet treatment of last year, Roberts is not always voting with Scalia and Alito (at least when his vote doesn't make the difference), and Clarence Thomas may be making noise outside the courtroom, but it's not only his voice that's gone missing in the court chambers.
And every justice, including Justice Kagan, has written more than one majority opinion, with one glaring exception: Justice Thomas, who has yet to write for the majority in any case this term. ... Assuming that Justice Thomas has received the same number of opinion-writing assignments as his colleagues — one or two cases from each of the court’s monthly argument sittings — the absence of majority opinions in his name is striking.
Harold Meyerson pays another visit to the Triangle Waist Factory fire and the reaction of business to regulations requiring (horrors) sprinklers and fire doors.
Businesses reacted as if the revolution had arrived. The changes to the fire code, said a spokesman for the Associated Industries of New York, would lead to "the wiping out of industry in this state." The regulations, wrote George Olvany, special counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York City, would force expenditures on precautions that were "absolutely needless and useless." ... Such complaints, of course, are with us still. We hear them from mine operators after fatal explosions, from bankers after they’ve crashed the economy, from energy moguls after their rig explodes or their plant starts leaking radiation.
Those needless regulations put in place after the Triangle Waist fire have led directly to an enormous decrease in deaths by fire. But of course, there already were fire regulations at the time -- ones that protected the buildings and equipment. By corporate standards, then and now, protecting machinery makes sense, and protecting people... not so much.
E. J. Dionne records the Republican pivot from "Obama is too liberal" to "would Obama please say something we can attack."
They’re criticizing him not for the decisions he’s made but for the ones he hasn’t, and the ones he delayed. They are attacking him not as a liberal ideologue but as a man in full flight from any ideological definition. If they once said his plans were too big, they are now asking if he has any plans at all.
OK, start your countdown clocks to the inevitable Republican celebration of trashing the environment.
Piles of garbage left by humans thousands of years ago may have helped form tree-covered biodiversity hot spots in the Florida Everglades, according to a new study. The authors say the findings show that human disturbance of the environment doesn't always have a negative consequence.
Yeah! Take that EPA. Screw you, treehugging hippies! So what if all that trash was organic, and strong evidence suggests that the area didn't really benefit compared to undisturbed locations. From now on, it's all Styrofoam, all the time.