Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cheap gas? What's this?

A disturbing trend: gas prices are coming down. And fast. I paid $4.39.9 in Wyoming in September and $2.19.9 in Texas yesterday. This does not make me happy. Instead, I am chagrined (with a background sense of dread).

It makes the whole futures/gambling commodities system seem like a drunken spree in Vegas. I wish Vegas would stay in Vegas and not be the rule of capitalism worldwide.

Let's face it, Human Nature, we get away with whatever we can get away with.

We make up some blather about country and community and global this and that and "saving the world" (OK, a few of us still gush about that last one), but mostly, we prove by our actions every day that we are in this for ourselves.

And so we will burn cheap gas like it's an infinite resource -- and isn't cooking the planet and polluting our lungs and wrecking our children's future prospects.

We NEED reasonably priced gas, maybe even sort of expensive gas.

We've got to do whatever it takes to value the stuff, even if it means pain in the pocketbook. Better pain there than a bad case of lung cancer and a few polar bears in zoos. Because pretty soon after that, it might be a big die off for our own species. Cooking the planet can do that to you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Governor Pain: A gift to world progress

By choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has done more good for the Democrats than anyone else alive, except perhaps the congresswomen from California and Hillary and Barack.

Sarah Palin has done more to doom Republican success this election year than any other conservative. And she is even causing deep distress within the GOP, causing a split between the increasingly alienated, anti-intellectual, faith-based fundamentalists and the confused, slightly libertarian "moderates" of the party.

I wouldn't want to be a moderate in America today. Even what is called a moderate in this country is a person who is notably backward thinking, trickle down believing by world standards.

According to some campaign staffers, Governor Palin has the nickname "Governor Pain." She's gone off the reservation, and let's hope she goes off the deep end soon, so that we don't have to hear much about her a year from now, much less four years from now.

And a PRESIDENT Sarah Palin?

Can you say "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth"?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama, American rising

Millions of Americans and millions of people around the world are already feeling it, that the rise of Barack Obama to presidential candidate and, probably it now seems, to the presidency, is just super news for the whole wide world.

Colin Powell said it best: "transformational."

Transformational and, tough as it may be, much of that transformation for the good.

So please be pleased. This is one giant leap for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

Who better to show that we, yes we here, are all in this together?

Thank you, Americans who have supported this campaign, and thanks to those of you who will come to appreciate the goodness here.

Michelle Obama was right: I have never been so proud of my country as I am in the closing days of this campaign. And I trust that, tough as times may be, Barack Obama will rise to the challenge and make for a better world.

Our cup may not runneth over, but it feels now like it may just be half full after all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cheap gas: BAD

It's human nature.

If something is expensive, it's valued highly. If it's cheap, it can be squandered, wasted, thrown away, ignored.

And so the price of gasoline needs to be high. It's really the only way to accomplish any of our goals of cleaning up the planet and not cooking life off the Earth.

Cheap gas is a travesty. Cheap gas and (horrors) coal are suicide.

It's human nature: we burn the stuff according to how much it costs a gallon (or liter).

And so, as the price of gasoline comes down, the government should raise the taxes per gallon -- and not lower those taxes ever again. .Why lower the taxes on a finite resource? It's not like they're making more of the stuff.

And so it should be part of the "change" our country seems to be hungering for, IF INDEED it is hungering for REAL change. It is in our best self-interest to keep gasoline somewhat expensive, say $4.00/gallon in the current economy. And the government should make sure it costs at least that much. Better the government take in extra revenue through taxes to help counter and clean up the disastrous mess the burning of fossil fuels costs us in terms of health and human welfare than for the oil companies to profit from plundering a natural resource that truly belongs to all of us. Oil is or should be public property, not available for plunder by private companies.

Yes, that's socialism at it's best, and your children would be a lot better off if we had a lot more of it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caribou Barbie decides fate of the world

Right about now, two things are amazing:

1. That We the People of the more or less United States of America will elect a half-black half-white man with an African-sounding name President. How cool is that?

2. That the race is as close as it is, even with the infamous governor of Alaska on the ticket.

Just think if John McCain had made a really good, manly war room choice, say Chuck Hagel or even Mitt Romney, or best of all, I think, Tom Ridge. This thing might be in the bag for the GOP, and then where would we be? Back in the dark ages.

The suavely skirted Caribou Barbie (and her lucky-for-us likeness to Tina Fey) may save us from that, save us from our regressive recent reputation, save us from the deadly and dim chapter of recent history through which we might survive, even if the polar bears and the beaches of Florida don't.

Perhaps a thank you to Her Alaskan Cuteness will be in order.

Thank you, Sarah Palin, for saving the free world!

(And a wink-wink to Tina, too.)


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Real Americans: Defined !

Okay, here it is, the definition of a Real American:

A Real American is... an American citizen.

That's it.

That all there is to it.

Just show your citizenship, and you, too, can be a Real American!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Barack Obama: Presidential candidate, role model

Barack Obama is already teaching me how to behave in better ways.

As he does, consistently, I will make my case with honor. With fortitude, without insinuating fear or envy or other emotions to become central to any discussion. Obama shows us the difference between debate and argument, between being petty and being better than that.

In the old days, I was the angry young man, and now, John McCain is the angry old man. Not that I have anything against age, but young or old, anger, flustered, blinking, grasping, cat and mouse anger, is not the way to go -- at any age.

Anger can be a game changer, but it is never a winner. Note the difference.

Obama, on the other hand, is already a role model: Be consistent. Be fair. Be calm. Resist being rattled by attacks. Stand your ground, firmly but with grace.

A leader of any kind, a winner of any kind, needs firmness and grace, grit and gratitude, collected thoughts and calmness, and not the control of others as much as self-control, for it is self-control, with honor, that is how the game is played when the game is played to win in a virtuous way.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The October surprise: Joe the Plummer? No, Joe the Anti-Socialist

There it is, where we least expect it, the October surprise.

Turns out it's Joe the Plummer, the Willie Horton of 2008. Specifically, it's one word that Joe introduced into our national kitchen table conversation: socialist.

Joe was a prominent McCain accomplice in Wednesday night's final debate, but now the use of that footage and anti-"socialist" sentiment is turning dangerous for progressives everywhere and possibly for the Obama-Biden campaign as well.

But only because so many of the American people are boobs. Bring up the word "socialist", and you'd think the nation was overrun with sociopaths.

Capitalism might be America's religion, but our government has for over a century been some version of democratic socialism, some versions (the Roosevelts' Teddy and Franklin, Kennedy's, Nixon's, Carter's) a bit more socialistic than others (Hoover's, Reagan's, the Bushes' George and George).

NASA is socialism. Head Start is socialism. The Interstate Highway System is socialism. The FDA and EPA are socialism. Every public building and public program and public park is socialism. Subsidies of any sort, whether for crops or cars, is socialism. It's not a scary thing. It is actually the basis of what we expect government to do: make useful, safe and beneficial for the citizens all the competing and disparate private interests in the nation (and around the world).

It's like communism coming from the word "community" and the verb "to commune", to come together. Socialism is social, a good thing: as in "for the greater good of all." Socialism is about protecting and providing for society at large. Socialism is better than anti-socialism, don't you think? But still, Americans have this childish neurosis about foreign/enemy-sounding words. Socialism is not to be confused with communism, much less totalitarianism. Most socialist societies are even more democratic than the United States, and we do love the idea of democracy, don't we, at least the idea of it? Democracy means coming together for the greater good, and the greater good is socialism's highest and greatest calling.

As in, "We the People..."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barack Obama is already teaching me more about how to live

Barack Obama is a contemporary of mine, and his towering personality is already impressing itself upon me.

He is teaching me things, if one wants respect and influence, about how to behave well.

Barack Obama is becoming a mentor of mine.

His cool collectedness is wearing off on me.

His steadfastness is becoming a rock I can use for myself and within myself. I am already more steadfast myself.

Draw your lines and stick to them.

When it comes to strength, don't go erratic.

And don't go dramatic.

Save drama for play, for family, for fun. When there is work to do, put on your game face and get it done.

Sure, be eloquent, be electric, but don't be a short fuse.

Be potential energy. Don't shoot off, and when the going gets really tough, don't show off.

Be firm but smile.

But don't smile too much.

Or be too firm.

Be pliable and encompassing yet with clear eyes on the prize.

I am in awe of the man, and I predict that no better man will ever be president in my lifetime, though I hope there will be other towering greats on down the road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tapped out

What is all the complicated mystery to this "financial crisis?"

No mystery. We're tapped out.

Except for the billion-plus dollars of contributions we willfully sent to the political campaigns, which may, if we are lucky and fortunate and careful and at least a little bit humble be the best investment we ever made.

And I do mean EVER.

Besides all that credit card generosity, we're pretty much tapped out.

How could we borrow forever? Reagan showed us the way, but it seems it could only last about... oh... say... 28 years.

When the party is over it's got to be paid for.

And we're paying now.

And we will pay. We'll pay.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Economic Downturn? No way

Since when should we value our credit rating more than our savings account?

This is not a crash of the "real economy." This is merely a crash of credit.

The "real economy" makes real things that we actually need.

So don't listen to that bull about needing all the credit that is currently built into the system. Surely, both we borrowers and those risk-taking banks can get by borrowing less than we have been, than they have been. It's not the stuff we need that will go away. It's some of the stuff we don't need, the junk that has piled up and polluted our lives.

This bloated, trumped up, adrenaline-crazed, gambling, ravenous-for-credit, hedonistic, unchecked, relatively unregulated economy we have been living in was always destined to at least recede, if not crash. How could the value of houses or loans or loaves of bread go up forever? How could anyone be so naive as to think we had beaten back greed and put it in its place at the same time we were being so greedy ourselves?

People are wondering now about taking extra jobs, selling their stuff on eBay, making ends meet? I think that talk of "putting food on the table" is campaign talk, and people buy it. There are thousands who go hungry in this country, perhaps even a few million, but food is not what is at risk here. It is the ravenous, gluttonous, immodest, wanton American dream of everything and more.

MORE. We've been living on the MORE wagon so long, that just buying what we need seems a sure sign of impoverishment. But it is really our culture which has become impoverished, much more than we the people, citizens of the most gluttonous country on Earth.

So suck it up, and keep what you need most in mind.