I am a deeply disappointed supporter of many Democratic platform planks who strongly believes in protecting the environment, building a strong educational system that is freely available to all comers, enabling workers to earn a decent wage for their hard work, increasing the number of jobs available to all residents of the United States, building a clean energy based infrastructure, and reducing the cost of higher education for the people who need it the most.
However, after watching the Democratic Party-led hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee titled “Review of the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century”, I am sick to my stomach. It makes no sense to me to have someone like Barbara Boxer berate four dedicated public servants, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, while she is fawning over Greg Jaczko, a political operative who berates and intimidates his colleagues and staff. I know that Jaczko has two powerful political patrons who happen to be Democrats. I also understand that Jaczko’s definition of nuclear safety – that it is impossible to spend enough money to be “safe enough” – is the official position of many Democratic Party members.
However, that is no reason to accuse four patriotic Americans of essentially lying after they testified – under oath – that Greg Jaczko is too intemperate and too agenda driven to be left in charge of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission without agreeing to a major change in attitude and behavior.
Jaczko’s repeated denials during two days of testimony under oath do not provide me any confidence that he will change his behavior, especially after having been provided such a strong show of support by the party that temporarily occupies both the White House and the majority of the seats in the Senate. He does not think he has done anything wrong and continued to assert until the very end of the second day of hearings that he is proud of his leadership at the NRC.
Yesterday, I promised to share another clip or two from the House Oversight Committee hearing titled “The Leadership of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.” In the following clip, Congressman Issa gives each of the four commissioners who signed a letter to the White House Chief of Staff complaining about the behavior of Chairman Jaczko a chance to describe their commitment to nuclear safety.
It should be clear that each of those individuals have a embedded sense of responsibility and that they care deeply about protecting the public. Jaczko’s continued protestation that the whole source of the conflict is that he cares more about nuclear safety than they do is falling on my deaf ears. He has an agenda, he has powerful political patrons, and he is an unrepentant bully. It would restore a little of my support for the self-described party of the people if more of them recognized that continuing to protect “their man” against his own demonstrated bad behavior is bad for both the country and for their political future.
In the below clip, Senator Bernie Sanders develops a line of questioning that indicates to me that the politicians on the podium are living in a strange bubble where powerful people misbehave and berate subordinates and then excuse that bad behavior as something that is normal. They see nothing wrong with aggressive behavior as long as it reflects their strong desire to defend a political position. They are so insensitive that they do not even recognize how negatively yelling and screaming can affect their subordinates.
During the previous day’s House hearing, Congressman Issa read a short phrase that I immediately recognized as the definition of “harassment” that I had learned during repeated annual training sessions as a federal employee. Issa did not reveal the source of the phrase he read, but he asked each of the four commissioners if his words applied to the way that Chairman Jaczko has been known to run his agency. The vote was unanimous – all of them said that the words Issa read applied to Jaczko’s behavior.
I guess it is one more example of how elected officials in Congress do not apply the same rules or laws to themselves as they do to the rest of the federal government or the American population.