Friday, May 16, 2008

Another Cracker for Obama

Originally uploaded by mdt1960
John Edwards I am not—not even a super delegate, but I think it's high time that I announced my support for Barrack Obama as he seeks to become the 44th President of the United States. Surely anyone who knows me is not all that surprised. Nevertheless, I think the Democratic party is approaching critical mass and I just want to do my part to bring us all together before we go by the way of Darth Vader's Death Star.

And isn't Hillary starting to resemble Rocky Balboa in the those final rounds when he's too stubborn to go down for his own good?

I reckon there is George Bush to thank regarding my decision to back Obama as things can't get any worse—a quagmired war, a sinking economy and out-of-sight gas prices. Undoubtedly the three remaining candidates still in the running (and even those that have withdrawn) would improve things in Washington, across our country and around the world when juxtaposed with George and his low-brow administration. For the most part I should feel pretty good when I awaken on November 5 and learn of the election results. And there we have it folks, the legacy of George Bush—the guy who managed to run the country so far into the ground that the next guy/gal can't help but look good when they step into the Oval Office on Day One.

But Obama personifies that old adage that goes something like, "desperate times call for desperate measures." Basically, we can't afford not to pull out all of the stops, allowing this shipwreck to turn itself around and prevent it from going over the falls. And Obama is the only one who is really talking about giving Washington and the country a true "makeover" that it so desperately needs.

Perhaps he's not strong in foreign policy, but I know he's smart enough to get the right people on his staff to make up for any deficiency. The same goes for any other areas of inexperience. Stop and think about it, everyone has a soft spot when it comes to running the country and providing any given President is intelligent enough, wouldn't they all surround themselves with the right people to shore up anything that's lacking... unless of course they were George W. Bush?

Further, I think a guy like Obama is more of a uniter; certainly not the divider that defines Dubya's reign. Nevertheless, I suppose the loyal White supremist around the country won't feel like joining the party, but they're freaks anyway based on their tainted education (or lack thereof). Who needs 'em?

Yet, as long as I'm here, it has been interesting over the past couple of weeks (since the West Virginia primary), to hear about Obama's "lack of appeal" when it comes to uneducated, White, working-class men and how "he needs to address this problem" and "retool his message" if he expects to get their votes. Hearing the media dance around this little issue, I just kept thinking to myself, "Obama doesn't have a problem appealing to uneducated, White, working class men, they have a problem with him being African American."

In my days of working with this particular demographic, I heard that n-word (containing the two "g's") used more prolifically than any other time in my life—by far. Disclaimer statement: Of course, this isn't to say that all of those whom fit this particular profile harbor such views. Far be it for me to stereotype my own kind!

Finally, this week, Kevin Merida, a reporter for the Washington Post, looked this demon straight in the eye that includes some not-so-surprising remarks from West Virginia's finest voters. Listen for yourself.

Should Obama get the nod from the Democrats, but lose the general election to tired-old-White-man McCain, I'll surely have my doubts that the better candidate won, but more troubling will be whether or not I believe America—in its heart—voted for the best candidate.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gasoline: The Real Price of Freedom?

Iowa Junction
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I'm awake at 2:28 a.m.—thinking about the semester coming to a close and George Bush's ideas of freedom.

It's an exciting time of the year. The school year draws to another close and it doesn't really matter if I get a good night's sleep or not. Classes are over and only exams remain.

If the calendar year were reduced to a week, it would be Friday at 4:00 p.m. right now. The full weekend is in front of me.

With the promise of summer's frolic ahead, I wonder about frolic's key ingredient—freedom. Where's my freedom as I consider the greatest symbol of freedom in the United States as the automobile, which now requires $3.50-plus per gallon to send me on my way to "freedom?" Who can afford that kind of freedom except the well-off, the privileged, the elite, the established and the upper crust of our society—basic code talk for rich White folks?

According to what I paid for petrol one year ago today, it now cost me 20 percent more to fill up my gas tank today—just in one year. My take home salary doesn't reflect the rising cost of fuel.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but could a sitting president affect the price of gasoline during his/her office? Given George W. Bush is from an oil family, I doubt there's anyone that can honestly and without some form of shame say that he has nothing to do with the outrageous increase in gas prices.

Regular gas prices during the Clinton years:
1993: $1.10/gal
1994: $1.11/gal
1995: $1.14/gal
1996: $1.23/gal
1997: $1.23/gal
1998: $1.05/gal
1999: $1.16/gal
2000: $1.51/gal

Increased by 1.37 times from the time he started office until he ended

Regular gas prices during the Bush years:
2001: $1.46/gal
2002: $1.35/gal
2003: $1.59/gal
2004: $1.88/gal
2005: $2.27/gal
2006: $2.58/gal
2007: $2.81/gal
2008: $3.xx/gal

Increased by 2.39 times from the time he started office until he ended

What I do know is that my definition of "freedom" is becoming more and more "confined." There's a new oxymoron: "confined freedom." At one time, I considered my freedom to include the entire West and sometimes beyond. Now, it's only the county I call home and occasionally the surrounding Big Horn Basin of Wyoming and parts of Montana. If the strangle hold of high gas prices continues, my true freedom will be whittled down to the distance I can cover on my bicycle and my imagination's ability when reading a good book.

Perhaps I have it wrong. Freedom has nothing to do with how far you can go in your car—perhaps that is just an aging form of American decadence. For example, how do the "free" people of Germany do it—their gas prices translate to $8.63/gallon?

As a side note: Regarding Hillary Clinton and John McCain's proposal for a national gas tax holiday... I thought it was interesting when ABC News' George Stephanopolis (once a White House aid to her husband) asked Hillary Clinton to name one credible economist who sided with her and McCain on the summer gas tax suspension, she said everything but a name. Good question George.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who Cares for the Little People?

Muddified Water
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Listening to the reports coming in from the cyclone-ravaged Irrawatty Delta of Myanmar (Burma), I couldn't help but think of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. In fact, based on the stories posted thus far, with the exception of the higher number of deaths, it sounds like the same people are running the show (or not running the show) in Myanmar as those in New Orleans. Already, complaints of little or no government action/reaction to the event have surfaced, and those affected, displaced or killed are those that are the poorest of the poor—just like New Orleans.

Myanmar and The United States... I thought these two countries were worlds apart, but not so when it comes to taking care of their own poor.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Fallacy of Calendars & Weather

May Snow
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Yesterday was May 1 and as I made my way for the door, I started to reach for my gloves considering the blustery day that awaited, but than caught myself and decided that with May's arrival, I would go without gloves until they were required again—sometime in the distant October.

This morning I awoke to a wet two-inches of snow on the ground and what appears to be a punishing Wyoming wind. What am I to make of that—nature sticking it back in my face, further proof that I'm really not that intelligent?

So many times over the years—usually in April—I tell someone how, almost without fail, we will have at least one snow fall in May, and sometimes after graduation and its exodus of students from the campus. I'm always amused by that scenario where summer recess is here and it's still snowing.

We're still a week away from graduation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Barrasso's World of Coal

Good Things2Life
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Wyoming Senator John Barrasso is definitely looking out for Wyoming—especially the Wyoming coal industry. In his electronic newsletter dated April 22, Barrasso writes a pro-coal piece that reads like a promotional brochure from one of the coal companies in the voice of a Barbara Cubin-esque high school cheerleader. Perhaps a few of his buddies in Campbell County sent him the coal-is-wholesome copy in an overstuffed briefcase full of "campaign donations."

In his opening paragraph, the good senator argues that "coal should never become a stranded asset." Yet he says nothing of Wyoming's unlimited energy assets found in its relentless wind and the excessive tally of solar-enriched days—much more prolific than old-school coal.

But wait, there's more. He argues that "complete substitutes to coal have often proven to be unsuitable, insufficient, or too costly to power America's homes and businesses." Did I miss something? "Complete substitutes?" When or where did we carry out this experiment? Undoubtedly he would have said the same kind of thing back in the early 1900s when the Wright Brothers were fooling around on the beach at Kitty Hawk. Let's not get Barrasso mixed up with innovative thinking.

And if it's not enough to use coal to provide our electricity, Barrasso proposes that it should be used to produce gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Great, let's burn even more of this filthy fuel source—screw the planet and everyone that lives on it as long as there will be plenty of good jobs in Wyoming for years to come.

Barrasso resorts to a few Dubya scare tactics as well when he attributes a lack of coal use with power outages saying, "Blackouts across the Northeast in August of 2003 should have sounded a warning." Well John, the warning translates to this: Hey America, stop carrying on like the greedy and self-centered mega-consumers that you've been for all these years. It's time to pay the piper.

Perhaps what's most laughable about Barrasso's pep talk for coal is he proposes that coal is the answer to an antiquated infrastructure, "But, America has an aging energy infrastructure—from pipelines to transmission. Energy policies warrant a more comprehensive review and far-reaching solution. Coal can, and must, be an important contribution to that solution." OK, let me get this right... the solution to an aging energy infrastructure is to fix it with an energy source from the Dark Ages?

Barrasso attempts to show us his "green side" as well. "Even if policymakers chose to mandate a reduction in carbon dioxide," he states, "America cannot afford to close the door on coal." It's hard to argue his point here, especially if America continues to sit on its fat ass and do little to nothing about real alternative and renewable energy solutions.

Finally the Wyoming Senator concludes in saying, "America cannot abandon our nation's most abundant, affordable, and secure energy resource." Brilliant, just brilliant. He would have said the same thing about horses when a guy named Henry Ford was tinkering around with something called the horseless carriage.

P.S.: Here's a semi-related question to consider on the carbon capture technologies discussion. They want to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground—for how long? Forever? Even radioactive material breaks down to a harmless substance after enough time passes. Does carbon dioxide stored away for a long period of time magically transform back into oxygen?