Monday, March 11, 2013

Last Call

I know that eight years of a Gore-Lieberman presidency from 2000-2008 would have been infinitely preferable to Bush-Cheney or even Kerry-Edwards, but what would have happened in 2008 then?  Would Barack Obama have been in the picture?  Would it have been Clinton, Obama, and Lieberman, or would everyone have stepped aside for him?  Would that have put McCain in the White House, or Romney?  Would we have ended up in Iraq anyway, even if Gore had stopped 9/11?

I ask because of this:

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is joining the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank announced Monday.

Lieberman will serve as co-chairman of the American Internationalism Project, alongside former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

"The American Internationalism Project, under the leadership of Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Jon Kyl, is critical to opening a discussion about the challenges facing America in the coming decades — and strategizing about how to meet them," AEI president Arthur C. Brooks said in a statement.

Lieberman, who opted in 2012 not to run for reelection, said there is currently an "urgent need to rebuild bipartisan — indeed non-political — consensus for American diplomatic, economic, and military leadership in the world."

To put this bluntly, the Democratic veep candidate in 2000 is joining the largest conservative think tank in America in 2013.  There would have been problems with Lieberman too, folks.  Yes, they wouldn't have been anywhere near as bad as the first four years of Dubya (or, well, the second four years) but down the road we would of had a Republican President now:  McCain, Romney, Lieberman, or some combination.
Also, excuse to use the Joe F'ckin Lieberman tag, who now automatically receives Wingnut Stupidity in all future posts.

The Unkindest Kind Of Cuts

It's funny when one of the few remaining actual economists at the WSJ decides to write something factual that bucks the "owned by News Corp" trend, like a sotto voce mumble you can just make out in all the noise of "Obama causes socialism!" and stuff.

7.1%: What the unemployment rate would be without government job cuts.

While most industries have added jobs over the past three years, the recovery has largely bypassed the government sector.

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers. No other sector comes close to those job losses over the same period. Construction is in second worst place, but its 225,000 cuts are less than a third of the government reductions. To be sure, construction and other sectors performed worse during the depths of the recession, but no area has had a worse recovery.

A separate tally of job losses looks even worse. According to the household survey, which is where the unemployment rate comes from, there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

Of course, we were told those cuts were absolutely necessary, and that they would be replaced by higher paying private sector jobs.  It's been almost four years.  Where are the magic private jobs?  Well, most of them are at McDonald's I guess.

Here's the stinger at the end, which I assume had to be written for the mouth breathing FOXoids.

Whether you view reducing the size of the public sector as a positive or negative, it clearly means fewer jobs and a higher unemployment rate in the near term.

Which is pretty much what everybody else said, but of course you have to spell it out for them.   Austerity doesn't work, folks.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature: Two Years Later

It's hard to believe today marks the second anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, but two years after the earthquake and tsunami flooded the plant, refugees are still coping with depression, anxiety, and pretty much full-blown PTSD.  Kenichi Togawa and his family are all too typical, as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel discovers.

At first they lived in a gymnasium in Kawamata town, about 30 miles away. For months, they slept in an open room with many other families and shared shower facilities and eating areas. People cut in line to get food, and others got angry when the kids played too loudly. "We were just like dogs and cats without chains," says Yuka, Kenichi's wife.

That was tough, but their current situation isn't much better. All five family members live in a tiny, temporary house that's roughly 300 square feet. Sixteen-year-old Rina says she often has arguments with her younger siblings, especially when they're settling down to sleep at night. "[The room's] just so small, we hit each other by mistake," she says.

Yuka is grateful to have a roof over her family's head, but she doesn't think of it as a home. "This is temporary," she says. "We leave our house in the morning and we come home and it's temporary. It's like floating in the air." She worries about her children. For now they are healthy, but she fears they may become sick from radiation exposure.

Kenichi is also having a tough time. He is more isolated now than he was before the accident. He spends hours each day playing video games. He has put on weight and drinks more than he used to. Other evacuees are doing worse. Many don't have jobs, and some have taken up drinking and gambling, according to Hiromi Yamamoto, an English teacher from Namie who fled to nearby Iwake City.

Public health officials believe that the stress and isolation the nuclear accident has caused may be more dangerous than the radiation itself. Big disasters are very difficult to recover from, says Ronald Kessler, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School who has studied the emotional fallout from Hurricane Katrina. Over the course of years, mental health problems can get worse and worse. "If it's something that goes on for a long, long time as Katrina did, that's where you get into trouble," he says. "The Japanese situation looks like it might be a similar sort of thing."

The Japanese nuclear Katrina.  Cheery, eh?  And yet two years later, the reality is only now sinking in that the refugees from Fukushima will never be allowed to go back home.  I'd be depressed too.  Japan's government has basically failed here, even worse than we did with Katrina.

So who knows at this point what the real legacy of Fukushima will be?

Also, be sure to read over the rest of my Fukushima posts from 2011.  The problems are still there.  They will be there for a very, very long time.


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