Forget about your tired and hungry, just send us your radioactive waste


The city of Oak Ridge, Tenn., is anticipating the arrival of nearly 1,000 tons of nuclear waste from Germany. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a plan in June for an American company to import and burn low-level nuclear waste from Germany.

Don Safer of the Tennessee Environmental Council worries about the same thing. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, he’s not ready to accept any of EnergySolutions’ guarantees that the process is safe.

“There’s a lot of controversy in burning regular garbage, let alone radioactive garbage,” Safer says.

What is most baffling to Safer is the fact that Tennesseans don’t seem too bothered by it — especially in Oak Ridge.

“I think first and foremost, Oak Ridge has been a company town for a long time and there’s just a great reluctance — and almost a social convention — that you don’t attack the company that feeds us all,” he says.

I’d say pretty much all of America is a company town and has been for a long time.  The fact that it’s still referred to as a free country is just proof that Americans have trouble grasping the concept of irony.  Free to breathe toxic smoke, or starve.


A Faithful Servant of Big Money

This is how Joe Conason describes Mitch McConnell, apparently for acknowledging that the US defaulting on its debts might be bad for “the economy.”  Conason then turns around and chastises those childish Republicans in congress for listening to the “mindless ravings of Michele Bachmann” instead of the “expert opinion” of Ben Bernanke, Wall Street’s very own man in Washington.  (In another nice bit of irony, he says that the Republicans are suffering from “political schizophrenia”—this coming from a liberal who’s worried about the banks getting their interest payments.)

Here’s Conason again, flogging away at those “dysfunctional” tea partiers who want to stand on their silly principles rather than heed the sage advice of the grown-ups in the room:

They could listen to ultraconservative senators like Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.—members of the Gang of Six/Seven whose own profound ideological hostility to Obama and the Democrats still leaves space for prudence.

Or they could listen to more than 60 business groups, from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce to the Telecommunications Industry Association and the American Gas Association, all fearful of the consequences of default.

Yes, the prudent position is the one where you borrow more money to pay off your debts.  Tightening the budget, on the other hand, is wild-eyed recklessness.  I mean, those defense contractors need to survive, too!  We wouldn’t want to put Raytheon out on the street, now would we?  Oh, sorry, I meant Granny—we wouldn’t want to put Granny out on the street.  Because the best way to ensure Granny’s financial security is for the fed gov to keep borrowing and inflating the currency until she can barely afford a bag of chips with her measly $200 social security check.

Can we dispense with the fiction already that the Republicans are the party of Wall Street and the Democrats are the party of the little man?

It wouldn’t hurt you to smile a little bit

Leave it to NPR to fixate on the dated wallpaper in the master bedroom while completely ignoring that the house is infested with termites and the foundation is sinking.  Surely one of the more noteworthy problems with corporate America is the dearth of Asians in upper management.  Just like the problem with the U.S. government is a lack of [insert minority of your choice] in prominent positions.  Because, as having our first black president has shown…well, okay, nevermind.  As I was saying, we’ve really got to do something about this bamboo ceiling thing.

The apparent reason for this critical shortage is that a lot of Asians aren’t properly acculturated.  For instance, they’re unaware that in America you don’t get ahead by doing your job well, but by kissing the boss’s ass.  There’s also something called the “Asian poker face.”  This refers to the tendency among many Asians to refrain from smiling for no reason, a habit that seems to unnerve the whitefolk, who were raised to believe that it’s normal to go around with a blank expression of joy on your face at all times.

This last bit really gets me.  I’m not Asian, but I’ve had that exact experience countless times in my life.  More people than I care to remember have told me that I need to smile more, that I’m too serious, too quiet, too whatever, as if these were diseases that needed to be cured.  I’ve had people tell me, after getting to know me, that they had thought that I had no personality, or that I was an asshole, or, in some cases, both.  I must have gotten the wrong message from this, though, because it never occurred to me that I needed to be coached in the art of smiling on command.  Instead, I came to the conclusion that these “all-American” types are either insecure children who need the constant reassurance of a smiling face, or else they’re petty authoritarians who’ve taken it upon themselves to police what they consider to be aberrant behavior, and, either way, that they weren’t worth wasting my time trying to impress.  Besides, they shouldn’t be encouraged.  The last thing we need are more hucksters trying to dazzle us with the whiteness of their teeth.


You know, this is after all a Fourth of July weekend. We’re celebrating freedom — not just for Americans but the ideal of freedom. And, right now, people in Arab world, including Syria, are fighting for their freedom. And Iran is doing everything it can, not only to suppress this freedom fighter uprising in Syria, but, of course, they have murdered and suppressed their own people in Iran.

So, I would say that a day of reckoning is coming for this extremist regime in Iran when the majority of Iranians who really yearn for freedom see that dream come true. And I hope we’ll do everything we can to make it happen as soon as possible.

Tailgunner Joe

Curiously, no mention of the Palestinians and their struggles for “freedom,” or the Saudi Arabians, or any other people who happen to be living under autocratic regimes that haven’t (yet) fallen out of favor with the warlords in D.C.  Spreading freedom’s a tricky business, I guess.  They’ll have to wait their turn.

Along with Herr Lieberman plumping for war with just about every country in the middle east, there was the always-reliable warmonger Lindsey Graham, fretting about whether Obama’s announced withdrawal of 30,000 troops from Afghanistan would undermine the “phenomenal progress” made so far in paying unemployed men to join the army and police forces.

Apparently, in addition to hot dogs on the grill and fireworks and little American flags, the 4th of July also means cheap political hacks peddling hollow slogans on TV.