Estimates for the amount of thick sludge that gushed from a Tennessee coal plant last week have tripled to more than a billion gallons, as cleanup crews try to remove the goop from homes and railroads and halt its oozing into an adjacent river.
That would be “enough to fill 1,660 Olympic-size swimming pools” assuming you wanted to fill your pool with “concentrated levels of mercury and arsenic.” And that is, as Richard Graves puts it, “more than 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster and, in fact, more than every drop of petroleum used in the United States that day.”
The next time someone says “clean coal,” be sure to do that bit where you cough and say “B.S.” Or maybe skip the couging part.
After disastrously invading and occupying Iraq, one of the justifications President Bush frequently offered for sustaining the enormous U.S. costs in lives and resources was that we were developing a “key ally” in the Middle East:
Together we’ll help Iraq become a strong democracy that protects the rights of its people and is a key ally in the war on terror. [9/22/05]
Our mission in Iraq is clear. … We’re helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We’re advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. [6/28/05]
Freedom will prevail in Iraq; freedom will prevail in the Middle East; and as the hope of freedom spreads to nations that have not known it, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace. [3/20/06]
The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss notes that — in a central test of the U.S. alliance with Iraq — our “key ally” is instead more eager to disassociate itself completely from the United States:
Just as they did during Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, Iraq’s leaders are now showing where their true sympathies lie. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Da’wa Party “issued a statement condemning the attacks and calling on Islamic countries to cut relations with Israel and end all ’secret and public talks’ with it.”
Khalid Hussain of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) told Gulf News “We have obligations towards Palestine and all Iraqi people are in solidarity with the people in Palestine, and we will support the people in Gaza.” [...]
“Iraqi resistance groups have to retaliate against the Israeli aggression on Gaza by escalating their operations against the US military in Iraq since the US position is in favour of this aggression, firstly, and secondly because the United States and Israel are both enemies of the Arabs,” Omar Al Kubaisi, an activist of the Sunni Muslim Clerics Association.
Cato’s Chris Edwards offers his proposal for warding off depression: “What Obama should do is a pass a large corporate tax rate cut, which would spur long-run growth.” Yes, neo-Hooverism taken to new and exciting heights allowing everyone to dust off the Keynes line about how in the long-run we’re all dead in an appropriate context. Long-run growth is important, but it’s not going to be worth anything unless we get out of the downward spiral that’s facing us immediately.
Meanwhile, what we actually need is corporate tax reform — close loopholes, grow the tax base, and lower the tax rate.
Ed Kilgore has a really interesting post on Southern political history that gets into the winding and complicated manner in which racial politics has interacted with other issues in Dixie:
But there any “seamless web of reaction” theory about the South begins to break down. The two decades after the Compromise were characterized by savage political warfare across the region between supporters and opponents of capitalist development and corporate subsidies. And no one embraced the Lost Cause of the Confederacy myth more than the southern Populists, who viewed antebellum southern “civilization,” accurately, as anti-capitalist. The great southern Populist Tom Watson of Georgia, who once called himself a “red socialist through and through,” and who did actual jail time in opposing U.S. entry into the “imperialist” World War I, was a disciple of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens and an unequalled romaniticizer of the Lost Cause.
This period also illustrated the highly ambiguous nature of the race issue in the South. The Populists initially appealed to African-American voters, but eventually championed disenfranchisement of blacks as the only way to build a class-based political movement among whites. And while hardly any notable white political figure in the South in this era was anything less than a thoroughgoing racist, the “New South” apostles, and the “Bourbon Democrats” who succeeded them and characterized one element of the Southern Democracy right on up to the Civil Rights Movement, often postured as paternalistic defenders of African-Americans against the violence of redneck populists.
One thing I might add is that perhaps the defining picture of contemporary southern politics is that this sort of thing has ceased to be the case. Overall, the region is clearly — like the rest of the country — much more progress on racial matters than it was during Watson’s time. But unlike in the past, basic left-right economic issue disputes are now very closely aligned with people’s attitudes toward racial questions. In general, over time American politics as a whole has shifted from a two-dimensional conflict to one-dimensional conflict and this has had particularly acute consequences in southern states where racial polarization in attitudes is higher-than-average and where you often see an unusually large black population. But this world is actually a consequence of the Civil Rights era that replaced an earlier, more complicated dynamic.
Earlier today, Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) appointed Roland Burris, the first African-American elected to statewide office in Illinois, to take Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. Democratic leaders have indicated they are planning to block the appointment. Speculating on Blagojevich’s motives, former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey told CNN that the Illinois governor may be acting “crazy like a fox” and looking ahead to his own potential trial. Coffey said Blagojevich’s “conniving strategy” may be an effort to persuade future African-American jurors:
COFFEY: My question is: is he crazy or is he crazy like a fox? Rick, consider the fact that everything that Rod Blagojevich does at this point is with reference to his concern about spending a lot of prison time. So what does this appointment do for him? [...]
Let’s get to what may be the more conniving strategy of Rod Blagojevich. He has now put an extremely prominent African-American in play, he says, to replace the ultimate respected African-American in politics right now, Barack Obama. And he is going to say, no matter what the Senate does, I did what I could, and those guys in the Senate blocked it, that Secretary of State blocked it, but I did the right thing. And how will that play if at all to African-American jurors on the Rod Blagojevich jury panel trial one day? He may be trying to get a few points down the road, because he is surely going to need all of the points he can get.
I’m going to say “more insulting to Palin.” Palin’s something of a laughingstock, but Bush is a villain. I mean, he wrecked the world economy, he led to millions of Iraqis being forced to flee their homes, he’s a total disaster and a disgrace. Palin gave bad answers in TV interviews. There’s no real comparison.
Yesterday, on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, Iran war hawk John Bolton said that Israel’s recent bombing campaign in Gaza is all the more reason for the United States to bomb Iran now. “So while our focus obviously is on Gaza right now, this could turn out to be a much larger conflict,” he said, adding that “we’re looking at potentially a multi-front war here.”
“You would strike Iran right now?” asked host Alan Colmes. “I would have done it before this,” Bolton responded. Colmes asked whether tensions and war across Middle East would escalate if the U.S. or Israel were to bomb Iran. Bolton said that the many Arab countries would secretly be cheering if Iran were attacked:
COLMES: So if we do that, they strike back, are we then in danger of creating a broader war?
BOLTON: I think in many Arab states in the region, although they wouldn’t say it publicly, they’d be doing the equivalent of popping champagne corks because the Arab states don’t want Iran with nuclear weapons any more than Israel does. What Iran could do is what’s already happening in the Gaza Strip or what might happen if they unleashed Hezbollah, terrorist attacks on Israel.
It’s hard to believe that the Arab world would be pulling out the party hats if Iran were attacked. Thanks to the policies of President Bush, the U.S is immenselyunpopular across the Middle East. Iran, on the other hand, enjoys unprecedented support in Iraq, which is supposed to be America’s greatest ally in the region.
The LA Times reported last year that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “has transcended national and religious divides to become a folk hero across the Middle East.” Ahmadinejaded, “the leader of a non-Arab Shiite nation, has ingratiated himself with the Middle East’s predominantly Sunni Arab population.”
Without regard for the wider war and increased regional instability that an attack on Iran would likely cause, Bolton believes the solution to a Middle East already in flames is to throw more wood on the fire.
Of the various premises on which the U.S. invasion of Iraq was sold to the American people, one of the most bizarre was that a post-Saddam Iraqi government would be friendly to Israel. As with claims about WMD and Al Qaeda connections, this one has proved to be a work of imagination.
He’s got more in this vein. It’s always been a bit odd that those most inclined to tout their credentials as would-be spreaders of democracy throughout the Arab world are also those least inclined to be at all sensitive to actual Arab public opinion.
Wow. Despite requests from essentially everybody to avoid appointing a senator to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat, Ron Blagojevic has decided to tap Illinois Attorney-General Roland Burris to the seat. Back in 2002, Burris ran against Blagojevic in the primary with Obama’s support. The Senate Democrats aren’t happy:
The Democratic leaders of the Senate repeated that view on Tuesday, issuing a statement saying it was “truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Governor Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety.”
The statement continued, “We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris’s ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.”
The leaders concluded by saying the appointment was “unfair to Mr. Burris, it is unfair to the people of Illinois and it will ultimately not stand.” They called on the governor once again to resign.
What a weird development. Part of the shame of it is that Burris seems like a perfectly well-qualified choice, but the circumstances put him under an unavoidable cloud of suspicion.