Let’s talk about Russian Roulette. I hand you a revolver capable of firing six bullets. I only load one chamber of the revolver. I leave the other five empty. I spin the cylinder and tell you to put the revolver to your head and pull the trigger. Your odds are not bad. You have a five in six chance of emerging from the request happy and healthy. You have a one in six chance of being dead. Despite those odds, you decline my offer. I can’t blame you. Nuclear power plants operate along the same lines. The odds of a major disaster are small. But when it happens the results are devastating. The plant failure in Japan thanks to an earthquake and resulting tsunami have now surpassed the severity of our Three Mile Island disaster of decades ago but has not yet reached the proportion of the then USSR’s Chernobyl. Some here in the US say “nothing to see here.” The logic goes “when a plane crashes does everyone stop flying?” Well, the simple truth is there are a number of people who refuse to fly based on the risks. Those who fly do so by choice. Short of zoning ordinances, what choice do people have who live in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant?
To make matters worse, I heard an explanation the other night of how nuclear power plants work. I admit this was a “nuclear power for dummies” explanation but the explanation still blew my mind. You see, I was always under the impression that nuclear fission within the plants directly generated electricity somehow. What I discovered is that the nuclear fission (a controlled nuclear reaction similar to an atomic bomb without the blast) is used to heat water, which in turn creates steam, which in turn runs turbines or some such other contraption that generates electricity. Reminded me of the old children’s game “Mouse Trap”. For all its sophistication, it sounded awfully Rube Goldberg. It made me imagine an energy plant where the electricity was generated by treadmills. On the treadmills were humans running. Keeping them running was the threat that if they slowed down, they would be shot in the foot. A high risk to human health just to generate energy. We create nuclear reactions just to heat up water? Could this really be the basic way nuclear power plants are run? Isn’t there any safer, less expensive way to do this?
Nuclear plants are not cheap. Instead of continuing to build these accidents waiting to happen, let’s direct that money to the serious development of wind and solar solutions. Japan has taught us there are no fail-safe nuclear plants. We must ask ourselves is the gain really worth the risk.
As I write this, we have joined with a bunch of allies to drop bombs on Libya. Sugar coat it any way you like, it sounds to me like we are at war with yet another country. Like it or not, the least I want is an honest answer for why we need to get involved in this and President Obama handed me a load of bull yesterday when he announced the effort we were joining. But let me take you back to another famous speech made by a recent President.
Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
This of course was the load of malarkey that George W. Bush handed us to justify invading Iraq. Not only were we told about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction but he upped the ante by suggesting that Saddam Hussein would nuke the United States of America. With that bit of manipulation in my rear view mirror, I heard these comments from our current President:
Now, here is why this matters to us. Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.
“The entire region could be destabilized.” Come again? I immediately thought, this is Obama’s mushroom cloud. How does a civil war destabilize an entire region? Qaddafi has acted like a tyrant for decades and the entire region was not destabilized by it. No sooner did this thought cross my mind then I heard my words echo back to me from the TV as Jack Jacobs, a retired US army colonel voiced the very same opinion and went even further to say that if anything, our intervention in Libya may be the destabilizing force there.
When President Obama tells me we can’t stand by and let people get slaughtered, I can understand that. But when he tries to scare me with conjecture about regional destabilization, he crosses the line into Iraq-era propaganda. I expected Bush to pee on me and tell me it was raining. I didn’t expect that from Barack Obama.
I have long beaten the drum against the violent rhetoric of the right-wing ideologues in this country. I stand by it. Many of the signs carried by Tea Party members are beneath the dignity of anyone claiming to be a patriotic American. Worse than that, those in power in the GOP have not behaved much better, whether it be birther sympathizers or fools like Joe Wilson who yelled “you lie” to the President during a congressional address. I have also maintained that we don’t see this behavior coming from the left.
As I have written in a recent article, the behavior of just about every politician in Wisconsin is reprehensible when it comes to this union busting legislation that was recently passed (and has now been legally challenged). When some of my readers confronted me about signs carried by the left-wing during the Wisconsin kerfuffle, I acknowledged that hateful signs from the left are no better than those from the right. However I maintained that left leaning politicians in Wisconsin still held to a higher standard than their GOP counterparts. Sadly I was mistaken. Wisconsin Democratic Assemblyman Gordon Hintz, reacting to the passing of the union busting bill, said to his Republican colleague, Michelle Litjens “you’re f*cking dead”. Where I come from, that makes Joe Wilson’s “you lie” sound like a compliment. Litjens described the incident to a reporter and appeared graceful in the face of disgraceful behavior.
A message to my fellow liberals: we need to walk it like we talk it. Our righteous and completely appropriate indignation at the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and others who stoke anger and discontent among their followers amounts to nothing but rank hypocrisy when we tolerate the same behavior from our own. Hintz should be urged to resign for his remarks. His direct statement to Litjens amounts to a much more volatile act than cross-hairs on a campaign map.