German elections – the nuclear power opponents win a surprising victory

Posted March 28, 2011 on 1:45 pm | In the category Election, Environment, Germany, internatinal Livability | by Mackenzie Brothers

The nuclear disaster in Japan will no doubt have a negative ripple effect on the popularity of the nuclear power industry throughout the world – at least one would hope so as the consequences of a nuclear meltdown begin to hit home – and the first plebiscites on the topic in regional elections in southwest Germany have delivered completely unexpected results. In Baden-Württemberg, where the Conservative CDU party has ruled for almost 60 years, the Green Party, which for 30 years has attacked nuclear power programmes from a gradually-growing minority position, will apparently deliver the next premier, as the Greens received, by a very slight margin over the social Democrats, the most votes with 24%. And in neighbouring Rheinland-Pfalz the Greens will have gained a crucial position to rule in coalition with the Social Democrats. There is no doubt that the impulse for this amazing result is German uneasiness with the proposed expansion of nuclear power plants in view of the catastrophe in technologically-proficient Japan.

There is also no doubt about who the big losers are in this. Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU/CSU government has been punished for waffling on the topic of nuclear energy, and its weak coalition party, the FDP, lost half its votes in the elections and fell below the 5% level, which gets you into parliament, in one of them. For the FDP, which traditionally supplies the Foreign Minister when in coalition, it could be a fatal blow. For the CDU/CSU it is a rude wake-up call as analysts have determined that many thousands of voters who normally vote conservative switched to the Greens as a protest on federal nuclear power policy. It seems that a stance that was once the home territory of an offbeat protest party finds a great deal of support among conservatively-minded Germans. After all, the potential spread of radiation in Japan pays no attention to political interests. It looks like it may make everybody’s land uninhabitable for a long time in a wide area around the crippled reactors.

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State of Maine Union Blue

Posted March 25, 2011 on 2:29 pm | In the category Collective Bargaining, Politics, Tea Party, Wisconsin Governor | by Jeff

Yesterday’s NY Times reports that Maine governor Paul LePage has determined that a large mural in the state’s Labor Dept. Headquarters has too many depictions of workers – some of whom are – gasp – union workers.  A spokesperson for LePage claimed that the mural reminded him of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses,” and LePage has ordered the mural removed. Furthermore, the governor referenced anonymous complaints from business leaders that may or may not actually have been made to justify his action on the grounds that the Labor Dept. building needed to represent both employers and employees.

This is of course one more attempt to punish the middle class for the sins of the country’s investment banks, health insurers and outsourcing corporations. LePage is one more example – along with Governor Walker of Wisconsin  – of a small group of new right-wing, tea party-supported politicians intent on using unions as a whipping boy to cover up and shift responsibility for the country’s dire economic situation from the people whose greed is leading America towards becoming a banana republic oligarchy.

Maine’s reputation as a fair-minded, moderate state is at risk and its citizens are looking at a nasty, fruitless three and a half years of bombastic posturing by the man they elected on what must have been a very foggy day.

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Mike Huckabee: Ignoramus of the Day

Posted March 1, 2011 on 9:19 pm | In the category Huckabee, Politics, Press, Racism, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

“I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, [is] very different than the average American…….if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

Republican presidential candidate, Fox News analyst and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee  on Steve Malzberg’s right-wing radio talk show.

There are three problems with Huckabee’s comments: 1) Obama was not raised in Kenya; 2) he made them on a national radio talk show; and 3) he has had no comment about them since having it brought to his attention that he was 100% wrong**.

I will add a fourth problem, that he is a likely candidate for President and we really do not need an ignoramus in that position. It would be more than troubling to think of him mistaking Kenya for – oh maybe Hawaii or Indonesia –the two places where Obama actually was raised. What is symptomatic in his comments and most reprehensible is the subtle racism. It is no secret to anyone who follows American politics that the fact that Obama is a black man drives some people nuts. Kind of the way Hillary Clinton’s gender drove them nuts. The fact that people are getting used to hearing this kind of nonsense is not a good sign.

**Huckabee’s spokesman Hogan Gidley did comment::“Governor Huckabee simply misspoke when he alluded to President Obama growing up in ‘Kenya.’ The Governor meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia.” Which does not explain how or why he then segued to discussing how Obama must have thought of the Mau Maus.

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