As I cruised over the Pacific enjoying movie after mind-numbing movie, Congress passed a measure to raise the debt ceiling that by all accounts (or at least by Democracy Now and Paul Krugman) sucks. Not only will the deal likely prolong the current recession - primarily hurting the working class and middle class, and positively screwing the already unemployed - it essentially allows the wealthy to stay that way, requiring nothing new of them in the way of taxes, and likely profiting them. Those politicians and pundits on the right who called for cuts with no new revenues engaged in selfish and mean-spirited bullying, asking others to sacrifice while not being willing to give slightly more from their already overflowing, deep pockets.
This is not to say that everything is rosy in Japan (see this recent NY Times article on how Japanese citizens are taking their own readings of radioactivity because local and national governments are saying everything's fine, despite new findings of radiation in the food supply). But it is striking to see industry and individuals all taking part in reducing energy consumption here, while at the same time in the US those who could actually make a difference - the rich - threaten to take down the entire economy before they'd agree to pay their fair share.