Fear Part Deux

October 9, 2010

Fear is a soft sounding word, nothing scary about it, at least until some circumstance is attached.
Last week, my first post on fear concerned the quiet, unassuming fright in the storing of mega-dangerous spent nuclear fuel at reactor sites — fear without example.
Although the message is low key — all that radioactive material piling up with yet no known and reliable way to get-a-handle on it — the fear level should be way, way up the chart.
However, few US peoples think about it — the Mothers for Peace do, and the group’s long-running court battle against the NRC and the horrifying “dry cask” concept will have oral arguments in the case Nov. 4 in San Francisco — and fewer still even understand the enormous danger just waiting to become pure reality.

And as in: Cracks in an entire barrier holding an Hungarian toxic-sludge reservoir “…makes it very likely that the whole wall will collapse.”

(Illustration found here).

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, without any historical irony, I’m sure, or even any thought about wider implications, voiced the problem now facing a planet that’s been consumed with technology the last 200 years with any regard to consequences: “We have no exact information about the nature of the material because a catastrophe like this has never happened before anywhere in the world,” Orban said. “We have only assumptions about how far and with how much force the material can come out of the storage container.”

All the world’s a stage when it comes to events similar to what’s occurring now in Hungary.
Instances abound, from Katrina to the BP oil spill (in the US), Chernobyl in Russia, or even the waste of entire regions like an incomprehensible ecological disaster in Nigeria and all due to a zealous desire for consumption.
Fear should be super-great for all those man-made catastrophes awaiting right now in the wings.
Alas, however, there’s not much of a fear factor for most US peoples.
Despite the near-identical Hungarian problem in the US — 101 mega-toxic coal-ash disposal sites (lakes) scattered across the country, with many containment structures holding all that shit back considered piss-poor — and despite a commission report that President Obama’s people initially kept the rest of US peoples in the dark about the real magnitude of the BP oil spill.
What keeps the government from doing shit like that on anything?
There ought to be some fear, but there’s really not.

Fear is where fear shouldn’t be.
And maybe hope is replaced by fear.
In the UK’s Financial Times on Friday:

Having been elected partly on the basis of hope, Mr Obama may have to put the accent on fear in 2012 if he wants to be re-elected – fear, that is, of what the other guy might do.
As Bill Galston, the respected US political observer, points out: “Hope is a souffle that never rises twice.”

Mr Obama may largely be blameless in failing to fulfil some of these hopes after he was elected — particularly the bit about uniting with Republicans.
But the promises he made to help get him there are his alone.
Hope, therefore, will not do the trick a second time.
Nor, unless there is a much stronger rebound than most forecasters expect, can he bank on a strong economy carrying him over the threshold in 2012.
Which leaves fear.
Franklin Roosevelt famously said “the only thing to fear is fear itself.”
Fear usually gets a bad press.
But FDR may have undersold its electoral benefits.
Fear of terrorism and surrender, for example, worked pretty well to assist George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.

So unfair — but yet…George Jr. and The Dick spewed fear, were intoxicated by unleashing fear, and fed fear whenever and wherever fear feared to tread.
And this fear continues.
In the Guardian last Thursday:

A US terror alert issued this week about al-Qaida plots to attack targets in western Europe was politically motivated and not based on credible new information, senior Pakistani diplomats and European intelligence officials have told the Guardian.

Dismissing claims of a developed, co-ordinated plot aimed at Britain, France and Germany, European intelligence officials also pointed the finger at the US, and specifically at the White House.
“To stitch together [the terror plot claims] in a seamless narrative is nonsensical,” said one well-placed official.

And this from Glenn Greenwald on Friday:

What’s most striking is how we collectively never learn lessons.
These are the same people who ran around screaming for two years that we had to attack Iraq or else Saddam would get us all with his mad chemical scientists (Dr. Anthrax and Mrs. Germ) and nuclear clouds, yet they are still listened to whenever they unleash their newest Scary Villains.
Fear is a potent weapon.

Unfortunately, an only-option weapon of those with nothing else in their arsenals.
And this fear-mongering weapon is most-apparently most potent.
Case in point: Sharron Angle, the nutcase Republican running against the spineless, dipwad Democrat Harry Reid (the lessor of two evils, I suppose) in Nevada.
Angle created a bald-faced fear lie last week in proclaiming two US towns, Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas — are under Sharia law, the sacred law of Islam.
And this despite the fact Frankford, Tex., no longer exists, and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly claimed Angle was full of dog shit — well, actually O’Reilly said Angle’s comments were “shameful” and “totally irresponsible.”
Who seems to give a dog shit?
No one with any moral compass in Nevada — Angle is reportedly in a popularity surge, according to the latest polls, and could possibly beat Reid next month.

According to Wikipedia: Fear mongering (or scaremongering) is the use of fear to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end. The feared object or subject is sometimes exaggerated, and the pattern of fear mongering is usually one of repetition, in order to continuously reinforce the intended effects of this tactic, sometimes in the form of a vicious circle.
End-use of this tactic can sound obvious.
Even to making an unwise war wise:

An al-Qaida-linked plot that triggered this week’s U.S. terror alert for Europe underlines the need for the war in Afghanistan, a top NATO commander argued Friday.
U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, NATO’s top commander in Europe, said terrorists using Afghanistan as a base are still trying to target Europe and that this threat justifies a war that has grown unpopular in many places.

“So I think prima facie — obviously — there is purpose in what we are doing,” Stavridis said.
He spoke at a conference in the Polish city of Wroclaw devoted to trans-Atlantic issues, and his defense of the war was made in response to an audience member who sharply criticized the war, calling it absurd.

Fear is freakish with a mean streak.

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