Defying Progressives, Obama Revives Nuclear Power

Those who continue to insist that President Obama would implement progressive measures if he only had 60 Senate votes (ignoring that he had this for most of 2009) will have a hard time explaining his move this week to launch the first nuclear power plants built in the United States since the 1970s. Anti-nuclear power activism, coupled with the Three Mile Island near-meltdown, doomed the nuclear power industry, and major environmental groups have long opposed new plants.

But as with Obama’s dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan (and the covert sending of troops to Pakistan), there was little outcry from progressives in response to an action that would have brought thousands into the streets if initiated by a Republican President. Is it not becoming clear that President Obama uses the 60-vote filibuster Senate threshold to justify inaction on progressive goals, while almost consistently acting against progressive interests when the 60 votes are not a factor?

Since the 1970’s, nuclear power has been a lighting rod for progressive and environmental opposition. In fact, for decades the chief public proponents of nuclear power were followers of cult leader Lyndon LaRouche, whose pro-nuke signs were commonly seen at the tables they staffed in airports.

During his campaign, Barack Obama said he was open to considering new nuclear power plants under the appropriate circumstances and as part of comprehensive climate change legislation. But in typical Obama fashion, the President implemented the conservative part of his energy agenda without a commitment from Republicans to back any progressive components of a climate change bill; not surprisingly, Republicans responded to Obama’s action by saying it “would have little effect on their votes.”

While the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other groups voiced opposition, don’t expect environmental organizations to march and rally against the president’s action. After all, the multi-billion dollar government bailout of the failed private nuclear power industry is now a fait accompli, and green groups still hope to get something from Obama in the future.

Obama’s Unilateral Anti-Progressivism
Consider the actions Obama has and has not taken that have nothing to do with Senate filibuster threats.

He gave $8.3 billion loan guarantee for a new nuclear power plant, with the federal government — not the banks — on the hook if the project defaults.

He signed an Executive Order creating a bipartisan budget commission, despite this not being backed by any component of the progressive base that won him the nomination and swept him into the White House.

He has thus far refused to make recess appointments of Craig Becker and other pro-labor NLRB appointees, but instead allowed the key agency to remain in a state of dysfunction with only two of the five legally required members. There may not be 60 votes for EFCA, but nothing stops Obama from rewarding labor’s support by making these NLRB appointments today.

He has failed to even nominate federal judges and U.S. Attorneys, and has allowed Republicans to delay over 100 appointments that could be made during the current Congressional recess.

He refused to insist on using the reconciliation process to enact the public option, and then allowed Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to so weaken the Senate health care bill that it became unsupportable in the House. All of this preceded Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts.

Progressives Settling for Crumbs
Many progressives are so excited that Obama is not Sarah Palin that they accept any small step as a great leap forward. The irony is that many of these progressives saw a night and day difference between Obama and Clinton in the primaries, yet now accept policies from Obama that are virtually identical — if not more conservative — than those we feared from a President Hilary Clinton.

Progressives saw the November 2008 elections as rejecting the popular notion that the United States is a center-right country. Yet now we have progressives so fearful of a Tea Party takeover that they feel Obama must be defended at all costs, regardless of his betrayal of progressive campaign commitments.

This is a strategy guaranteed to produce precisely the rightward drift that these progressives so greatly fear. Bill Clinton’s shift away from his “Putting People First” campaign agenda did not help Democrats in 1994, and Obama’s renunciation of his “Change We Can Believe In” mantra will not save Democrats in 2010.

Randy Shaw

Republished with permission from Beyond Chron


  1. Terry says

    To be honest, the biggest difference I saw between Obama and Hillary was electability. Hillary at the top of the ticket would have been radioactive, no question about it. The Republican Party has been engaging its base in an Orwellian group hate of Hillary for full on a decade and a half now. During the campaign, they never found their feet when it came to directing a similar hate toward Obama.

    You could see it on the faces of the pundits employed by the Faux Noise Channel during primary season. It was all they could do to restrain themselves from saying, on camera, “No fair. They were supposed to nominate Hillary.”

    On the flipside, the Democratic base never would have managed anything better than lukewarm support for Hillary, whereas a significant portion of the Democratic base endorsed Obama wholeheartedly.

    Obama won the electoral vote 365-173 IIRC. Had Hillary been the nominee, for my money the electoral vote probably would have been reversed, or something pretty close to it.

  2. pulsar8472 says

    As a progressive scientist I have no problem with nuclear energy as long as it can compete fairly and safely in the market place.

    In particular there should be no loan guarantees for nuclear plants unless we give the same types of guarantees to the water, solar and wind power generation industries.

    Second and perhaps more critically the nuclear industry should be responsible for it’s nuclear wastes until the decay into harmless elements.

    Last, all nuclear facilities should be defended from air, land, water and electronic attacks by terrorists suicide squads and hackers.

  3. says

    The prior comment on possible mechanisms for climate change, and on what picture IPCC may be trying to paint, is beside the point – both in regard Randy’s political message and in regard climate itself.

    The identifiable ‘climate’ – actually not just climate – problem is a clearly human-caused rapid increase (over the past two centuries and especially lately) of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere. No one knows exactly what eventual climate effects will be, other than the INESCAPABLE physics of the overall GREENHOUSE EFFECT: more heat energy trapped near earth’s surface, in the form of overall higher average temps or latent heat (melting of ice, etc.) Whatever CO2 doesn’t stay permanently in the atmosphere is instead going into the ocean to make acid seas.

    The recent human-caused atmospheric CO2 buildup problem is in ADDITION to whatever are your favorite actual or hypothesized other climate-influencing effects, whether magnetism or other solar changes or orbital changes or …

    All the talk about the historical or recent ‘real’ recent changes in climate, or their ‘real’ causes, or whether climate scientists are honestly reporting them, etc, etc., is basically irrelevant. The actual problem is the inescapable effect of the human CO2-production that is being SUPERIMPOSED on everything else – whatever that is – that ‘nature’ is doing anyhow.

    The claim that earth used to have much higher atmospheric CO2 levels is irrelevant without a look at WHEN that happened and what were the conditions then. The ice-core data indicate that CO2 levels over the past few decades well top anything in the past 3/4 million (at least, maybe many more) years.

    Sure, we can live with plenty of CO2 – and melt the big ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. The result will permanently submerge my two-story house here in a relatively elevated neighborhood (Bixby Knolls) of Long Beach, and indeed most of the San Pedro Bay communities – locale of residences of hundreds of thousands of people, tens of billions of bucks in real estate, humongous business.

    The Ports of LA and LB think that’s just fine, for they want a couple more decades of profits-ueber-alles. So far, de facto all our local politicians, local and national enviro groups, and OBushma administrations folks have agreed with them. All of them are posturing that our only big enviro need is to have locally cleaner air to breathe. Never mind that as we breathe cleaner air we’ll meanwhile go submarine.

    Sea-level-rise is a truth too inconvenient for them to admit, let alone plan for, let alone not contribute to. Actually, it’s just fine with them. They’re happy with expanding global industry and trade to promote more and faster CO2 emissions to sink our homes – and even their ports – all the faster. ‘Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.’

    Not all the gods are yet crazy. You can at least skim and sample the sober report from the governor’s climate-change office posted two months ago on the web (first in a projected long-term annual series): ‘2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy’.

  4. says

    Yes, I too primary-voted for Obama as offering hope for change that Hillary did not. I fully agree with Randy.

    In fact, Randy understates the enviro disaster of the Obama half of the OBushma administrations. Impending disaster became clear when Obama, given the opportunity to put in Grijalva at Interior, instead went for Salazar, originally an accolyte of James Watt’s institute. And put in Monsanto’s shill at Agriculture.

    Yes, sycophantic enviro groups are pretending that all is well with our wonderful president, and are settling for crumbs. There are some admirable sometime exceptions like the Center for Biological Diversity (look at their Obama-first-year enviro report card: an overall C, well documented and broken into categories).

    In brief, Obama’s wimpitude is consistent: it’s as strong on environment as on everything else progressives and for that matter any half-way responsible citizens care about: security (fighting winnable wars, if any at all), foreign policy (human rights, stopping terrorist-state nukes), financial regulation, real health reform, helping the sorely pressed states and public education, … …

    At some point very soon someone is going to have to tell him to shape up or clear out and hand over the reins to Joe Biden. Someone is going to have to play Eugene McCarthy redux. Because as of now his only real ally for 2012 is Sarah Palin, and pretty soon even she won’t be enough.

  5. says

    It is SO sad that you have it all wrong. The nation IS center right. We, as a nation, have seen what left-wing liberal socialist ideas have produced in countries like Cuba. We, as a nation, prefer capitalism over socialism. We prefer real representative democracy over failed cummunism. Obama was trying to take us towards a Cuban style of government that we, as a nation, do not want. As Americans, the sky is the limit! You are free here, free to do as you please, to reach for the stars and obtain your goals! This goes for liberals and conservatives alike. Enjoy it. Relish it. And stop trying to take it away from people you think do not deserve it. It is not for you to decide who does and does not deserve it. Once you go down that path, freedoms are eroded and tyranny follows.

    I know you are not a scientest, so here is a very layman and simple rebute to the global warming hoax. Read it, learn it and stop trying to make this great nation pay for the hoax with our blood, sweat and tears!

  6. Timeparticle says

    Mr. Shaw, the problem is that the people who were really in power, making the important decisions for our governments, during the Bush Administration, are still in power today, during the Obama Administration. These powerful men and women, who are not elected officials, still have the same agenda.

    Fighting for a cleaner environment and a more efficient way of producing energy is on everybody’s mind, today. The global warming scenario has conflicting scientific data from scientists. Most Climatologists agree that the climate on our planet has been getting warmer. However, they do not agree on what is driving the climate change. The IPCC,( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), says that the climate is getting warmer due to rising CO2 emissions created from burning fossil fuels, such as gas, oil and coal. The world’s leaders are agreeing with this theory and are moving toward creating and agenda, for the rest of us, that entail a prolonged agreement with big money, business, and governments to discourage greater CO2 emissions.

    Not all of the scientists agree on the IPCC report according to Professor Richard Lindzen, Department of Meteorology at M.I.T. He says many disagree, but are persuaded not to come forward with the conflicting reports. There is pressure from certain government authorities and corporations not to disagree with the IPCC. Professor Patrick Michaels, Department of Environment, University of Virginia, says that tens of thousands of jobs are created by the Global Warming agenda and big money is at stake. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, says that the Global Warming agenda is a political activist movement backed by big business.

    Professor Nir Shaviv, from the Institute of Physics at the University of Jerusalem, says that there have been many increases of CO2 in earth’s climate history, from 3 to 10 times as much CO2 as we have today, with no correlating climate increase.

    Professor Ian Clark of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, says CO2 does not drive climate change. He says that he researched earth’s climate from 600 Million years ago to gather information on what creates climate changes. He found that the Sun is the key factor in driving climate change, not CO2. The planets of the Solar System live within the Sun’s “atmosphere” and are greatly affected by the solar winds and magnetic storms bursting off the Sun’s surface.

    In the early and mid 20th Century, scientist found that subatomic particles from space, or “Cosmic Rays”, as they called them, came in contact with water droplets, from the water vapor from our seas, to form clouds. The more Cosmic Rays poured into the atmosphere, the more clouds were formed. The clouds have a great cooling effect on the Earth. The Sun, however, with it’s great power, has altered the amount of Cosmic Rays that bombard the Earth in the past. The variances of Sunspot activities with their huge electromagnetic storm bursts throw out energy toward the Earth. The huge magnetic waves push the Cosmic Rays away from the Earth’s atmosphere, which decreases the amount of formed clouds and increases Earth’s climate temperature. The Sun’s magnetic field has more than doubled in the 20th Century. So, the temperature has been rising from an increase of the magnetic storms from the Sun, not an increase of CO2. Global warming has been going on , now, for more than two hundred year, long before the Industrial Revolution and man made CO2 emissions.

    These scientist, and many more, are saying that the increases in CO2 levels throughout Earth’s history follow the increase of temperature by hundreds of years. So, the higher temperatures create higher CO2 levels, if the chart were read correctly. Not the other way around.

    So, President Obama is only following along with the goals of the IPCC and the rest of the current Global Warming agenda, by helping big business, like nuke power plant corporations, grow. Pollution from fossil fuel emissions are bad, of course, for our environment, and more progressive ways to create energy are needed. But certain manipulation of the facts seem to favor big money, and progressives lose out.

    Progressives must be aware that the topics discussed at Copenhagen were not fully in their best interest.

  7. Jerry Lobdill says

    This is yet another example of Obama’s true colors. I knew he would be a huge disappointment before the election when he named Austan Goolsbee his economics advisor and said essentially nothing about the economy during the campaign.

    In the late ’50s my college roommate was from Chicago. He returned there after graduation and worked for a huge company that was in the business of designing and building nuclear power plants. Chicago–Obama–nuclear power…Can we connect the dots?

    I started out my voting life as a conservative in 1960. Now I’m left of Chomsky. I am so depressed over what has happened since Clinton’s first term that I don’t think there is any recovery possible. Obama was our last chance, however small that chance was.

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