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Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Friday, November 09, 2012 21 comments

The Voting Dead (#FridayFlash)

I thought we could all use a little non-partisan laugh after the long cat fight…

It started in Chicago, of course, but not for the reason you’d assume. Rick Carbone was a long-shot candidate for the City Council. He owned a meat-processing plant, and zombies often bought the offal he would have had to pay to dispose of. To drum up business among the zombies, more than actually trying to win the election, he ran on a platform of extending rights and protections to the undead.

To everyone’s surprise, including Carbone’s, disenfranchised zombies banded together to support his candidacy. Vocal opponents had a way of changing their minds, and he won handily. A man who was raised to keep his promises, his first act was to introduce a law that de-legitimized hitting zombies with vehicles, a pastime often called “bowling.” After two crucial opponents on the City Council suddenly joined the walking dead, the anti-bowling measure passed.

Carbone, of course, had a brief but stellar political career, moving up to serve four terms in Congress. During that time, he spearheaded a successful movement to extend nationwide voting rights to the burgeoning zombie population. But as much as the political climate has changed, getting caught in bed with two dead women (even if they’re only undead) always spells the end of one’s political career. Still, Carbone’s legacy lives on, as America’s number one priority is now education. After all, the largest voting bloc’s single issue is “more braaaaaaains.”

Monday, August 29, 2011 2 comments

Terrible Two

Mason will be 2 in ten days, but he was quite the little monster yesterday. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely his fault.

Mrs. Fetched’s aunt died this week, age 90, about three hours after she went into hospice. The funeral was yesterday afternoon, so I took Mason on to church. As happens rather often, he started nodding out in the car on the way home. Since we were nearly home, I took a little loop that adds ten minutes to the ride and that was enough to get him zorched. Unfortunately, that left about a half hour for him to nap before we had to get him up and go back into town.

Results were about what you’d expect from a toddler whose nap got interrupted: he kept moving at a frenetic pace, trying to keep moving so he wouldn’t go back to sleep in front of all those people. Some other kids showed up, and they opened up a side room for the kids to bounce around in — and Mason’s idea of a good time was trying to escape and getting angry when I wouldn’t let him. After a while, I got frustrated with his disrupting things and took him outside so he could cry as loud as he wanted. All in all, I felt like I was there for neither the aunt or the mourners, and told Mrs. Fetched as much. “You were there for me,” she said, which did make me feel a little better. But if I had it to do over, I’d have stayed at home with him. I did end up taking him home early; DoubleRed was at the funeral and offered to bring Mrs. Fetched home.

Once we got home, he got a little more nap in, but woke up cranky and not completely napped out. Meanwhile, DoubleRed got off on a tangent about Sesame Street, saying there was an episode that was never aired. I was thinking, “Oh boy, the whole Bert and Ernie hoo-hah again,” but it was Something Different. “The head of PBS pulled it,” she said. “They had a same-sex couple, and an interracial couple.” Okay, assuming she hasn’t swallowed yet another line of crap, I could see that they might not want to get embroiled in the same-sex marriage issue. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea just yet, as lame as their justifications might be. But equating interracial marriage? The pod people have had fifty years to get used to that idea. I gave her a rather sarcastic response, and she shut up. Which is fine, because Sid the Science Kid features an interracial couple (Sid’s parents) and I haven’t heard any flack about that even on Planet Georgia. I’ve decided that sarcasm and ridicule are the only way to respond to pod people when they start spewing their anti-everything agenda — they know it’s shameful outside their little circle and rubbing their noses in the fact is the only way to open their eyes to the Real World.

Anyway. Mason cheered up considerably once I got his shoes on and took him out to the patio to splash in the play table, then he walked back to the house. I thought for a moment he wanted to go inside and watch Cars for the zillionth time, but he grabbed a stroller and said, “Ride!” So I took him for a stroll along his usual route, and he was in a much better frame of mind for his supper/bath/bedtime routine. In fact, he slept all night for the first time in quite a while.

The Boy called me this afternoon and talked for a while, then talked to Mrs. Fetched for quite a while longer. He seems to really like Manitowoc — the lake’s right there, the parks don’t have No Drinking ordinances like they do here, he’s fallen in love with disc golf, cost of living is cheaper, what’s not to like? Winter? He’s planning to get a snowboard. He’s in line for a couple jobs that involve sanitation in food-handling plants, similar to the job he had in the chicken plant before a party derailed him. Not much was said about Snippet… I don’t know how she’s dealing with the move or how she’ll handle Real Winter. For all I know, getting her away from the influences she has around here might help her mature a little. (Yes, I’m the eternal optimist.)

Friday, July 23, 2010 No comments

Rest of the Week Roundup

All the other stuff that happened this week…

Yesterday came the last step of that little procedure I had last Monday — in other words, they took the stitches out. Once again, this went smooth as warm butter: I hardly felt it, even when they warned me to “let us know if this one hurts much.” Of course, it’s right in that part of my back that I can’t reach, so I still can’t scratch it when it itches. They told me there might not be much of a scar, which is kind of a bummer; scars are part of my history, reminding me of things that happened. “Yeah, this one is from when I was 7; I was riding my bike down the dirt road by my house and I hit a loose patch of dirt and went into the ditch.” (and so forth)

Some (ahem) twit took out the name LibTardBot on Twitter and attached it to a skr1pt. Basically, it scans the public timeline for tweets containing the word “teabagger” and retweets them with a pre-programmed insult. At least, I think it’s a script: with teabaggers, it’s hard to tell. Either one spouts their talking points on cue, and neither one can actually learn anything — it’s all programming.

Mason is getting better… actually, he’s pretty much over the ear infection and other sickness. The amoxicillin started helping almost immediately; by Saturday night he was wanting to get down and play a little instead of being clingy all the time. But he was still fighting an infection, and between that and trying to be his usual busy self, he was waking up ravenous in the middle of the night. He’s starting to get that back to normal too, fortunately… he slept all Wednesday night and only woke up once last night (and The Boy & Snippet got him). He’s also doing what The Boy used to do at that age: point at stuff and go “dat” (as in, “what’s that?”). He loves pulling wires, pushing buttons, and so forth… yup, geek in training! He figured out the OFF button on the TV this week, much to my amusement (nay, delight) and everyone else’s chagrin. I applauded him and Mrs. Fetched said, “No, he’s not supposed to do that! I popped his hand last time!” So when he went to do it again, I tried to tell him NO but was laughing too hard.

He has fat little feet, like the people on the Axiom in “Wall-E.” I’ll try to get a picture soon. As much as he runs around, I’m stunned that he has any foot fat at all.

The Boy & Snippet were nearly handed a perma-ejection this week. Personally, I’d have gone ahead and done it; I have no clue why Mrs. Fetched gave them Yet Another Chance. Daughter Dearest is a little cranky about the whole situation, and has threatened to move out a couple of times. Maybe the only reason she hasn’t is that I’ve threatened to move in with her. Meanwhile, M.A.E. and Moptop are still here, but they now have a firm departure date — two weeks from today. She lined up various public and private agencies to help her out, and she signs the lease on her apartment on Monday. Yes, she’s had a lot of help from Mrs. Fetched and others, but she’s taken a lot of initiative, found a job, talked to the various aid people, and basically made a lot of things happen. If The Boy and Snippet put half that kind of energy into getting their act together, nobody would have a problem.

Mrs. Fetched has been on me for a couple of weeks to pull some stock out of my account to raise some moolah for DD’s college (and, I hope, kill another credit card or two). I farted around for a while, then couldn’t get into my account. As it turned out, the delays were good because the price went up a buck & a quarter in the meantime… so I got to keep 40 or so shares that I would have otherwise had to give up to raise the same amount of money.

What kind of oddball things have you seen this week?

Saturday, March 13, 2010 3 comments

The Politics of “Enough”

My last day off was Wednesday, and a friend of ours (the Evil Twins’ dad) gave a call just to see what was up, and as he admitted, because he was bored. This guy is a religious-right type, but not into teabagger territory; he supported Huckabee in the primary and voted the way his preacher told him to in the general.

Anyway, he likes to ramble from topic to topic, and the incoming rain led to discussion of water issues in general — primarily the drought that we left behind for now. Water politics is pretty complex on Planet Georgia, when it’s not a complete hairball. Lake Lanier is one of several Corps of Engineers reservoirs, but seems to draw the most attention since it’s Atlanta’s primary water supply. The lakefront counties want some of the water themselves, the (mostly) wealthy lakeshore property owners want their docks to stay afloat, Atlanta and smaller cities downstream want a drink, and there has to be a certain amount of water in the Apalachicola to maintain barge traffic. None of this was an issue 20 years ago, when we had an even worse drought (the pasture here looked like a Marscape), before people started flooding into Atlanta and points mostly north. At some point, the population and its water demands exceeded the minimum supply. I pointed out that limiting further development would go a long way toward preventing even worse problems in the future. And he said…

“But when you talk about limiting growth, you’re also hurting income!”

“Well, what would you rather have?” I asked. “Income, or a drink of water?” He changed the subject.

A lot of the problems we’re facing today — climate change, peak oil, water and soil depletion, the economy, etc. — stem from an inability (or more likely, willful refusal) to determine how much is enough. People cruise along with their lives and careers, perhaps with a vague notion that their locale or the world are reaching carrying capacity in some aspects, but make no attempt to do anything about it. Perhaps they expect someone else to solve “the problem” (which, as the Archdruid is fond of saying, is actually a predicament); perhaps they are afraid to make waves at home or work. The result, in either case, is the same.

“Enough” is a good place to be. A small, slightly ratty-looking car is fine for getting me to work and back and is less likely to be molested by thieves or vandals. Enough house costs less than too much house, in terms of both mortgage and utilities. Enough income… well, with FAR Manor, there’s never enough income, but if the expenses would go away you can bet I wouldn’t be working so much. Enough commerce would support a stable population without creating environmental issues. I could go on, but you get the point.

The problem is, finding a politician brave enough to say “enough.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009 9 comments

Jumping the Buffoonery Gun [MORE]

I’ll be the first to admit it: Planet Georgia’s government is largely a bunch of buffoons in suits. That’s certainly nothing new; they were buffoons when they were nominally Democrats, and they’re no less (or more) so now that they’re Republican’ts.

But I would feel better if they didn’t take seriously stuff I wrote about in October 2007 that’s supposed to happen after the 2012 elections. Hey! FAR Future is supposed to be fiction, not a freeking blueprint (and besides, you’re almost four years early)!

An article at Tondee's Tavern provides a good reality check: how long do reasonable people extend a hand to mad dogs in trouble? How many times do they get bitten before giving up and pulling out the metaphorical shotgun? (my words, not the writer’s) That’s the situation here: Planet Georgia (and other red states) are glad to turn down help if it gives them the chance to take cheap shots at a Democratic administration and engage in useless political theater. We know these guys don’t have any new ideas (and the only one they ever had, “give tax cuts to people who don’t need ’em,” was an Epic Fail), but inciting violence and threatening another civil war just seems like the desperate last gasp of a party about to disappear in quicksand.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this — I’ve been racking my brains for an evening and a day, and haven’t come up with anything that Planet Georgia produces that is irreplaceable. Peaches, peanuts, cotton, watermelons, sod, lawn care equipment… all can be produced elsewhere. Vidalia onions are about the only thing that comes to mind, and those are hardly essential. I suppose I-75 might be a problem… I can imagine all the New Englanders griping about having to detour through Tennessee and Alabama to get to Florida. So if we actually did secede, would anyone else notice?

Friday, February 27, 2009 9 comments

Weekend Cinema (political edition)

OK, so most of the country tuned into Obama’s “not-State of the Union” address Tuesday night, and some of us stuck around for LA Gov. Bobby Jindal delivering the goplets’ rebuttal afterwards. Mrs. Fetched was busy helping Cousin Splat get some of the business end of the lawn care business dealt with, so I caught the speech on my laptop. After a few minutes, I got tired of hearing my fans winding up, so I switched to an audio-only feed — this was good, because I had to get in the car and could continue listening on NPR without missing much.

President Obama delivered a pretty good address, of course. Even though he had a few zingers aimed at the goplets, he also had them joining the applause and had a few quips aimed at loosening them up, and from what I could tell from the audio they worked pretty well. One could almost feel sorry for Gov. Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, having to follow that act — and indeed, he was working under several handicaps:

1) He’s not Barack Obama.
2) He didn’t have an audience to interact with.
3) He’s a conservative, trying to make a case for the same Epic Fail policies that got us to this point.

Indeed, Jindal’s response was widely panned, by both the Left and the Right. I personally got the impression that he was reading a bedtime story; all it needed was an appearance by the Wingnut Fairy to wave a wand and make everything right… or Right. The happy peons go home to their hovels from a 16-hour workday, the Owners live happily ever after, etc. He lost me the second he started talking about compassion as some kind of conservative value — I bet he’d pretend he never heard about Gretna barricading the road out of New Orleans after Katrina.

But I digress. This is Weekend Cinema, and that means a short (and free) video, right? Tonight’s selection is actually a news report, based around Gov. Jindal’s comments made over an open mike shortly before he delivered his response. It at least explains the “bedtime story” delivery:

It accidentally highlights the stereotype of Indians talking really fast (an example of which appears in the above clip). But you’d think someone who is a governor, one considered a “rising star” in his party, would have started working with with a speech coach a long time ago. Another stereotype: southerners tend to talk slow, and are automatically suspicious of fast talkers… that hasn’t seemed to hurt him. I know I talk fast when I’m nervous… but one would think a former congresscritter and current governor would have long ago shed any public-speaking nerves.

But look. If his name’s really Piyush, why call himself “Bobby” of all things? The freeking president has a funny name, and he doesn’t call himself “Barry”; you’d think that would no longer be a handicap. Oh well. Give the conservatives 20 years or so to catch up with reality…

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 13 comments

My Predictions for 2009

Jim Kunster posted his “Forecast for 2009” on his blog Monday morning. What follows is based on a comment I left in response, with my own predictions. I’ve done some rearranging and expansion on that original comment.

January → March

The year will likely begin with a quiet period, relative to the rest of the year, after the inauguration euphoria. Retailers are declaring bankruptcy (Circuit City, KB Toys) now, so it would be inaccurate to say the implosion starts early next year. But it will start picking up steam. The Obama administration, even with a high initial approval rating, will dribble out bad news slowly to prevent panic.

Most everyone will admit that the auto manufacturers, currently on life support, won’t recover. GM will break up, maybe voluntarily, into three companies: budget/consumer/sport (Chevy/Pontiac), luxury (Buick/Cadillac), trucks/industrial. Auto workers will own a significant portion of the companies, which will help with wage concessions (the best way to bust a union, after all, is to turn the workers into owners). Ford will swallow some of Chrysler, the rest will wither and die. The Japanese companies will scale back their operations. The job losses will ripple through the supply and dealership chains, and outward from there. Herculean rescue efforts will slow but not stop the hemorrhaging.

Some thousands of people will be caught out without converter boxes when the analog broadcast TV signals are turned off in February. There will be much noise made, and much pressure put on the FCC to push out the date. Eventually, the networks and local stations will dish out freebie converter boxes. But some people will find out they really don’t miss TV at all.

April → June

Fox Spew will begin referring to the “Obama depression.”

While mortgage resets continue declining to a summer 2009 minimum, job losses in retail and (later on) auto sectors will lead to increased defaults. The Obama administration will likely enact a law requiring the actual owner of the mortgage to initiate foreclosure, so there will be a mad scramble to figure out just who the heck owns the paper on all those houses.

Republicans will obstruct, spin, and do anything they can to tear own Obama (and the country be damned). Obama and a mob of angry constituents will begin forcibly implanting a spine in congressional Democrats.

July → September

The first steps toward universal healthcare will be taken. We won’t get there immediately, or even quickly.

Rolling blackouts may begin in isolated regions, but they won’t be seen nationwide until around 2012 (see FAR Future #1). A lot of people will leave their A/C off as much as possible to save on electric bills. There may be some spot gasoline/diesel shortages in various regions, like the upper Plains saw last summer (and the Southeast in the fall), based more on refinery or pipeline issues than any kind of crude shortage.

Through the summer, some dozens of unemployed bloggers will take cross-country road trips, talking to people and photographing the economic devastation. They will travel by various means, including hitchhiking or just hiking, and eat from government-supplied food pantries (below). One of them will break through to a book deal, and be hailed as “the 21st century Kerouac.”

Mortgage resets bottom out and begin the next wave in late summer. A foreclosure moratorium will be imposed, probably 60 or 90 days, followed by tax incentives for surviving banks who voluntarily refrain from foreclosing (with partial success). Squatting in abandoned houses will be widespread, but most squatters will keep up the properties they occupy and nobody will worry much about it. There will naturally be a few druggies and bangers taking over abandoned houses, and they’ll get all the media attention.

The government will either buy or seize food stocks in response to reports of small pockets of hunger/starvation. Agribusiness will take a big hit, and perhaps be nationalized to prevent an ongoing food crisis. The “victory garden” concept will make a comeback, under a new name like “food security garden,” and people will be attending classes and gathering information and tools for spring planting.

October → December

Argentines will begin consulting with unemployed American laborers, explaining how they took over shuttered factories and began producing things of value. It will mostly stay under the media radar in 2009, though.

There will be a mad scramble to ensure people have enough heat to survive the winter. Some low-income northerners may be relocated south and installed in otherwise abandoned dwellings for the winter, triggering howls of outrage from right wing locals.

General Economic trends

Inflation? Fuhgeddabotit. Whatever money is printed to keep the economy afloat will follow the old money right down the rathole. There’s just too much money evaporating in the finance sector to worry about inflation. The only way inflation will be an issue in 2009 is if Obama declares it a Jubilee Year and wipes out all debts, public and private, with the stroke of a pen. That would free up all the money going to service debts for buying stuff — and is about as likely as commercial fusion power being deployed next year.

Part & parcel with (lack of) inflation will be a more stable oil price regime, compared to 2008. OPEC will continue to chase demand down the price curve; whether they actually catch up is the question. Cash-strapped producer nations might tell OPEC to go pound sand (not oil sand though) and keep pumping. Leaving out so-called Black Swan events, as the 800-pound consumer gorilla (the US) continues to lose weight, oil prices might fluctuate between $40 & $80/bbl (you may remember me saying we’d probably never see oil under $100/bbl though, so add salt as needed). Spot shortages will have external causes such as refinery fires.

…and Beyond

Mortgage rate resets, according to a couple graphs I found online, will be less widespread in 2009 than in 2008. Last year was the year for major sub-prime resets; 2010 will see the Alt-A and Option ARM resets balloon though, and mostly keep climbing until autumn 2011, dropping off precipitously by summer 2012.

Given the current lower demand for oil, new sources won’t be developed and the more exotic sources (tar sands, deep water) will be too expensive to continue producing. Production cuts are currently aimed at a stable market; in the next couple of years it will shift to an economic base (i.e. uneconomical to increase production) then hit physical constraints (the whole point of peak oil). The initial parts of FAR Future are merely extrapolating current trends a few years ahead.

Thursday, November 20, 2008 6 comments

Another FAILout on the Way?

Yesterday, Mitt Romney suggested letting the auto companies die. He’s partly right: shoveling money at the automakers is not going to fix their problems. Unfortunately, doing nothing has its own set of large and highly negative consequences. While Romney (along with the rest of the right wing) seems to think that busting the unions has to be part of any solution, Mittens at least recognizes that management will also have to make sacrifices, both real and symbolic. But even that won’t be enough, especially since the managers will start the money and perq grabs again as soon as nobody’s looking. A more radical approach may not solve the problems in Detroit, but nothing else will.

There are 100 million households in the US, give or take, and around 600 million shares of GM. Pull a round figure out of my, er, back pocket, and say there’s 100,000 people working for GM. GM wants the taxpayers (i.e., you and me, if you live in the US) to bail them out… or at least their upper management flew their private jets to DC to deliver that message (OOPS!).

Maybe instead of bailing them out, we should just own them.

Run the auto companies through the bankruptcy courts, dissolve the standing corporations, then create new ones (this sidesteps the current stockholders, who would be just as screwed without a bailout). Issue 200 shares of stock to each autoworker, and 40 shares to each American household. Remove the upper and middle management structures entirely, and let the autoworkers run their companies. The people on the floor know how things work, and their neighbors are the people buying cars — they’ll have a direct line to what Americans want. If they have to lay people off or cut their salaries, then they do it knowing some fat cat on the 16th floor isn’t pocketing a bigger bonus at their expense. Meanwhile, their neighbors are also shareholders — not only in GM, but Ford and Chrysler as well. They will be more inclined to buy a car from one of their own companies, especially if the autoworkers have been listening and deliver the cars they want.

So if we’re going to have another FAILout, we should do it right. Many people will eventually sell their stock, some dork will amass enough to force itself into the picture, and the road to FAIL will start all over again. But it could be a long time. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get it right before then.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 1 comment

Opting Back in?

In July 2007, James Kunstler wrote a column titled Thuggo and Sluggo, in which he derided the “costume and demeanor of American young men … that raises interesting questions about who we have become.” In the week-long give-and-take that is the comments section, I responded:

I can tell you exactly why people dress like they do: we've realized the "dress for success" line is a bunch of hooey … If there's a message behind those baggy clothes, it's nothing but "I'm wise to your game, I'm not playing."

Now that’s not to say I wear “the uniform” that Kunstler derides: the baggy pants, hat on backwards, and all that… although I’ll admit to leaving my t-shirt untucked on occasion. The difference between me and Thuggo is that I’m wearing what’s comfortable, regardless of how it looks; he’s making a statement with his clothing. People in the lowest and highest income brackets, it seems, like to make a statement with their clothing; the rest of us are mostly concerned with staying warm or not getting arrested, although we’ll occasionally advertise a sports team or other activity we’re fond of.

So what’s the message Michele Norris is hearing?

I've been struck as we talk about change on a big level, what I've been hearing closer to the street -- in Chicago, in Pennsylvania, here in Washington, DC -- how many young black men are talking about change in their lives. At barbershops, someone told me that twelve people have come in and cut off their dreadlocks, talking about joining the army, talking about, you know, 'forget about the saggy pants,' pulling their pants up, leading their life in a different way. I think it's really interesting because we talk about change in buildings, and this election has really inspired change on a very personal level.

So if Kunstler’s Thuggo and Sluggo are cutting their hair and pulling up their pants… indeed, what’s the message? The optimist(?) in me wants to think that the kids are saying, “well damn, maybe the casino isn’t rigged after all, I guess it’s time to get in the game.” Of course, that attitude will lead to massive disillusionment down the road… because the casino is still rigged; Obama won the election with a combination of a sterling “ground game” with campaign offices stretching from the Internet even into the craziest corners of Planet Georgia, missteps by his opponents, and sheer luck. Take away any of those ingredients, and he’d likely be heading back to the Senate in January. That’s not to say Obama is unqualified — he’s certainly at least as qualified as anyone who has sat in the Oval Office since January 20, 1981 — but the race is not always to the swiftest, nor the battle to the strong, right?

The election has unleashed a wave of hope that has apparently washed all the way into the 'hoods and trailer parks, and even into Planet Georgia. I’ve heard two local people, both righties, say they’re praying Obama can fix things in the country. I’m not sure if there’s a dog-whistle that I’m not hearing, but it sure sounds good (and a heck of a lot more gracious than I was 8 years ago). But if everyone from the 'hoods to the hollers know things need to change, maybe there’s a chance that we’ll get the changes we need.

Sunday, November 02, 2008 5 comments

Charge It!

After church this morning, I got accosted by one of Mrs. Fetched’s cousins. “I hear you’re supported Obama,” he growled. “What of it?” I shot back. “Blah blah smear, blah blah talking points, blah blah I don’t see how you can support Democrats and be a Christian.” At least he didn’t trot out the “he’s a Muslim” bull$#!+.

“I don’t see how a Christian can support the party of the Pharisees and money changers,” I said, with more than a little heat. I’m not good at confrontation, and the in-laws are Olympic Squbbling Team gold medalists. “Remember who Jesus threw out of the temple.” He sputtered and tried to turn it around, and I just walked away. I wish I would have just laughed in his face when he started. I let Mrs. Fetched know about it; she said, “he’s so much like his dad” (who was a old white rural Georgia boy, need I say more). I have an idea who put his wind up about me, but with no proof I don’t need to name names in public (or even blog-ic). Look, if you really believe that the other guy is the better choice for rational reasons (i.e. no fear & smear), whether for the country or even your own wallet, I don’t have a problem with that. But if you want to question my patriotism (or my Christianity) for my choice, we have nothing to say to each other.

Another fun-filled afternoon at the manor. But instead of chickens, I had some wood to split (which was therapeutic) and load up. Two huge trees went down in her dad’s pasture, and we’re getting firewood. We didn’t even have to cut the first couple loads… her dad and a guy living in one of the rentals (the one who just got carted off to the Cinder Block Resort) left it there for us to just pick up. Mrs. Fetched came down to help load up after I finished splitting; we looked at what hasn’t been cut yet and I said, “this could last us all winter if we can get it cut up.” She nodded.

Since we’d had a big breakfast late, we didn’t get around to lunch until 3:30 or so. We finished up at 4, and we had Charge Conference at church at 5. In a Methodist church, Charge Conference is when the congregation officially approves the next year’s budget, appoints new officers (or re-elects the old ones, dangit)… and of course, it’s an excuse to go downstairs and eat. Being the lay leader, I get to deliver a “lesson” (mini-sermon). I quoted John the Baptist telling people to share their extra coats and food with people who didn’t have any, and — given the economic situation — challenged everyone to “share their stuff” with people who didn’t have it. To my surprise, everyone applauded… first time that ever happened. Probably because I kept it much shorter than my typical blog post.

Friday, October 24, 2008 No comments

Weekend Cinema

Even if there was anything good on at the theater, you don’t have time for it… so Weekend Cinema brings the free and fast to your computer screen!

I got this one from Faboo Mama, who posted it on her blog, and it’s too hilarious not to share. Turn up your speakers, the dialog is a bit soft and pretty funny too…

The First Ever Presidential Dance-Off

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 5 comments

Can’t You Smell That Smell?

OK, yeah, goplets stink anyway. But now I smell fear. Not the manufactured fear of black people, brown people, people wearing turbans, or (God forbid) of having to drive a smaller car. It’s the thing they’re afraid of most — losing big in just under two weeks. It’s kind of interesting, seeing yet another thing I wrote in FAR Future (Episode 22, April 7, 2013) happening well ahead of schedule:

The right-wing spins one way or another these days, like an old Chevy stuck in the mud, looking for traction wherever they can find it so they can get back in the race. They end up slinging mud everywhere, spinning their wheels, and sliding around. Their talking points still work with the most delusional among us, but not even their old crazy base is safe territory anymore.

Daily Kos calls it “Divide and Flail™.” Whatever you call it, it’s something I despaired of ever seeing happen: all the squealing about flag pins, the smears, the fear, the making crap up when they can’t find anything real… it’s not gone, it’s still happening every day, but only the delusionals and the crazies are listening. I’m sure it’s horrendous in the various swing states (and is from what I’ve heard); but here on Planet Georgia, we’re spared the worst of it. But even here, there are signs. Literally: someone posted a Jim Martin yard sign at an intersection where a Saxby sign stood just a few weeks ago, and some Neanderthal taped a “Vote for Socialism” tag over the big M on the sign. The Saxby yard signs have all but disappeared since the FAILout vote less than three weeks ago; I see a very real chance that enough wingnuts will vote for Buckley (the Libertarian), pulling down “Ignorance is” Chambliss and letting Martin into the Senate through the back door. That’s fine… whatever the reason (excepting death), fewer goplets in office is a Good Thing.

Nationally, the goplets have gone nuclear: their mouthpieces are trying to rip open the divide they’ve helped to create, separating their supporters into “the real America” and the rest of us… well, let’s feed them some rope:

Michele Bachmann (R-MN):
Then: “I’m very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views. … I’m focusing on Barack Obama and the people that he’s been associated with and I’m very worried about their anti-American nature.”
Now: “I never called all liberals anti-American, I never questioned Barack Obama’s patriotism, and I never asked for some House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunt into my colleagues in Congress.” (Um… you been punk’d and debunk’d!)

Robin Hayes (R-NC):
Then: “Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”
Now (after repeated denials, then confirmed by audio): “I genuinely did not recall making the statement … there is no doubt that it came out completely the wrong way … this is definitely not what I intended.”

And there’s the “socialist socialist socialist!” huffing and puffing from Palin and McCain’s staff… reminds me of the “n----r n----r n----r!” chants from an even uglier part of our history. Not to mention repeated attempts to selectively disenfranchise voters in Montana, Michigan, Indiana, and God knows where else. But both campaigns are fielding “armies of lawyers” to provide on-the-spot aid for any voter challenged at the polls, so even that tactic (which helped in Florida and Ohio the last two elections) may come to naught.

I just hope that another echo of FAR Future doesn’t come to pass. But I wouldn’t put it past them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 6 comments

Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I’ve Had My Share

In some parts of the country, the financial meltdown was well underway long before the rest of us got the idea. James H. Kunstler, on his blog, may have been the one to coin the term “Yard Sale Nation.” On a recent road trip through Pennsylvania and Ohio, Nudge (who is kind enough to read FAR Future and other things here) gave us an excellent write-up of her encounter with Yard Sale Nation — where recreational equipment and other merchandise with for-sale signs share road frontage with yard signs for the Republican candidates that brought the country to this fix in the first place. (Irony? What’s that?)

Sector 706 of Planet Georgia has never been part of Yard Sale Nation, perhaps because the region was traditionally impoverished… that is, until recently, most people never really had the means to collect all the toys that are supposed to symbolize the realization of The American Dream. Yard Sale Nation is usually found in the former industrial areas, usually in the north, where sons (and recently, daughters) would follow their fathers in working at the same factory. It was reliable work for reliable workers, usually well paid (union scale)… if it offered limited opportunities for advancement, at least it meant that if you showed up on time and sober and did your job, you could raise a family in your own house and enjoy a decent retirement. At least until globalization took over and the factories (and the factory jobs, naturally) moved to Mexico, China, or even Pakistan. By contrast, Sector 706 was one of those places that didn’t quite fit the stereotype of hillbillies living in shacks — although the moonshine trade thrived well into the 1970s, and if you know the right people you can still find it — but it was agrarian, poor, and kids with any prospects moved to Atlanta or even farther away to find their niche… and returned only for visits. The population decline had just started to reverse by the time I moved here, and only recently has the county I live in returned to its population levels of the early 1900s.

The prosperity that has come to Sector 706 is broad and shallow… it’s not the kind of prosperity that comes from the work of families with roots. Rather, it’s the prosperity of gentrification and suburbanization. The newcomers are solid middle-class people, nothing wrong with that, but they came here only because land was relatively cheap and the commute to Atlanta is barely tolerable (I came because I was in love and didn’t know better). An old joke about some of the first gentrified communities, much closer to Atlanta, was that “half the people drive Volvos and the other half wonder why they named a car after a woman’s anatomy.” But the old farming families with deep roots, even deeper than Mrs. Fetched’s family, have prospered… by selling the land (that has been in the family for generations) to developers. The brothers who sold a farm just down from FAR Manor got $3 million for 300 acres last year, and it’s a good thing they didn’t hold out because the housing crash finally caught up to Planet Georgia soon after. The place still looks pretty much like the picture I posted over a year ago.

So if the jobs in Atlanta go away, the newcomers will soon go away themselves… and it won’t take 25 more years for the county to lose the population it gained in the previous 25. But Mrs. Fetched remembers crossing a foot-log to get to the outhouse (shades of Barney Google! and there’s some more irony for you) as a little girl, so the dirt-poor days are well within living memory of the forty-somethings. If things really do go to Hell in a handbasket, the real losers may be the people who sold their farms.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008 11 comments

Slip-Slidin’ Away

The credit meltdown continues with the occasional temporary break in the action. Looking at the 5-day Dow(n), it looks like the shorts temporarily took over yesterday — running prices down through the day, with a partial recovery in the last hour or so as they unwind their positions and get out. Today, though, the minor blip up turned the other way and down she went. Another 500-point drop. OUCH.

The bailout package, as I expected, has done little to fix the problem — or even calm the “markets,” which I expected it would for a couple of weeks. It seems that CEOs don’t like the restrictions on their salaries or golden parachutes, so many have decided to “tough it out” and not take the bailout money. After all, the companies they run can go to hell as long as their own prosperity is ensured. The occasional punch in the face is small potatoes compared to leeching $300 million out of the company treasury, right?

In 1969, we fought the Vietnam war, sent some people to the moon and back — and balanced the budget. Of course, the highest income tax bracket at the time was 70%. If you look back, the most prosperous years of American history (that is, low unemployment, high savings, the most good for the most people) coincide with high taxes on excessive incomes. We lost our way, partly because we reached national peak oil in 1970–1 and became a net oil importer about the same time, and partly because we embraced this Randroid notion that wealth somehow equates to virtue. Then Reagan blew “morning in America” sunshine up our pants, and we took our eye off the energy ball.

Over the next few decades, wages essentially stagnated (except for the top execs, of course) and debt became a way of life for both individuals and the government. There was a brief period in the 1990s (the Clinton years), when the tax structure temporarily got saner, wages and employment improved markedly, and we had several years of budget surpluses. But that blip was followed by Bush-league and his record deficits and declining wages (almost as if he was trying to make up for lost time). So now we’re facing a huge glut of debt.

There are essentially two ways to destroy the excessive debt clogging the economic pipes: hyperinflation and outright cancellation (we can assume, probably correctly, that expansion is no longer an option). I don’t expect hyperinflation, as it’s a good way to destroy the wealth of rich and poor alike. Cancelling debt sounds like a messy affair, but in fact it can be done with much precision. It’s quite likely that they will cancel some debt (theirs) while leaving some other debt (ours) intact.

The guerilla war that the rich have been waging on the middle and lower classes is about to become an all-out war. Fortunately, some people have found a way to fight back: when you get the foreclosure notice, pay a lawyer $100 to write a letter asking for proof that they hold the note. Several people have said after that, they haven’t even been contacted for over two years! I suspect that, barring legislation that is extremely unlikely under an Obama administration, this ploy will work for a long time — to defeat it, they would have to detach the loan from the CDOs and all the other instruments that it’s a part of, which would mean all the mortgages would likely have to be unwound, and they don't want to do that.

At least for right now though, peak oil is no longer an issue. The entire world is staring at an oncoming major recession, maybe even a depression. Fewer jobs → fewer people commuting → less fuel being used → falling oil demand. We’ll go from just barely having what we need to having plenty, although most of us won’t be able to enjoy it. The question is, do we go down; and if so, how fast? Can we forestall, or even slow down, the decline by putting an end to telephone-number salaries?

James Howard Kunstler thinks we’ll go quickly now that (in his opinion) the decline has started. His theory is “The Long Emergency” — the combination of declining energy resources and the suburban lifestyle (long solo commutes from “McMansions” in oversized, inefficient vehicles) has irrevocably sent us over a cliff, where we’ll land with a messy splat in a de-industrial world. On the other hand, John Michael Greer espouses a theory of “catabolic collapse,” and backs it up with several historical examples. The word “catabolic” means to break down from a complex to simpler state; he envisions a long decline with occasional partial recoveries, or a drop to a level that might come to be thought of as “the new normal” until the next crisis sends the world down another stairstep. Eventually, we could (after several centuries) recover and invent an “ecotechnic society” in which technology combines with sustainable sources of energy and material. Such a society would support much fewer people than the current one, which is partly why it would take several centuries… the population would have to decline to a sustainable level first.

Crisis brings predictable folks out of the woodwork:

• The “imminent Rapture” crowd — but there’s no mention of the US in the Bible, unless you reeaaaaaaally stretch the interpretation. Nothing about “from across the Sea,” or “the uttermost west,” or any such. So if you buy the literalist End Times interpretation, we pretty much have to be removed from the scene before the Tribulation.

• Gold bugs — their disdain for “fiat money” is so obvious you can almost see them sneer as they type the phrase. Which is silly. Gold & silver have been one form of money — but so have pretty pieces of paper, cattle, and big stone discs with a hole in the middle. Money is basically whatever enough people say it is; if things collapse suddenly I’d rather have the food than the gold… if I really wanted gold for something, I could trade some food for it.

• Survivalists — beans and bullets, all too often with a terrible attitude about community.

Most of these folks tend to be “doomers” — the type who say disaster is imminent, billions of dead, etc. Whatever floats their boat, I guess. Doomers are saying that this is the week where “it all begins,” but I would have to disagree. It all began in the latter half of the 19th century, when we became dependent on fossil fuels to run our civilization. “It will run out some day, certainly,” they might have said, “but we’ll find something else long before then.” This might be the week that it becomes obvious, but I rather expect that “bargain hunters” will create a minor rally later this week or early next.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 10 comments

Sinnertors FAIL (as expected)

Well, the Senate had the bailout vote today, and (along with both Obama and McCain and ¾ of the Senate, dangit), both sinnertors from Planet Georgia voted for it. One of them is up for re-election, and the race has been tightening a bit lately… although I’ve often said, the pod people would elect Satan if he ran as a Republican, and call him a “defender of moral values.”

Anyway. I wrote both of them earlier in the week (as well as my reprehensible, Nathan “Raw” Deal), urging them to vote NO and come up with a better idea. I was 1-for-3; Deal voted the way I wanted him to… I think for the first time ever. So here’s the excuses the other two had to offer.

Sen. Isakson:
The cause of the decline was the funding of marginal credit mortgages (subprime) through the creation of mortgage-backed securities… The market for these securities declined and ultimately evaporated, thus causing a liquidity problem for the financial institutions and a credit crisis for American consumers and small businesses.

… The Treasury has proposed using up to $700 billion dollars to purchase, at a discount, these mortgage-backed securities. … If the Treasury properly discounts the securities to, say, 50 or 60 cents on the dollar, and holds the securities to maturity there should be little or no cost to the Treasury. …

While I am not a big government regulator, if the investment bankers on Wall Street were held to the same standards of transparency and accountability as our national banking system, this would not have happened. …

… Not a dollar of the $700 billion will go to the brokers who created the securities. Instead, they will go to the investors who bought them, and then only after they take a significant discount or loss. Properly executed, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve believe this proposal will restore liquidity to the credit markets and return confidence in the financial system.

Mrf. I’d like to believe our tax dollars would be buying discounted paper. The bill, though, says only that the purchase price is not to exceed 100% of the stated value. FAIL. There’s nothing in the bill about accountability… indeed, the bill removed “mark to market” requirements that forced companies to value their paper at what it’s worth. FAIL #2. Finally, the “investors who bought them” are (in many cases) foreign banks that demanded their cut at the trough. FAIL #3, hit the showers dude.

On to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, running for re-election this year. Amazingly, Jim Martin is giving him a real contest at the moment, and even the pod people think this bailout idea is a stinker. So you’d think he’d be a little more circumspect with his ayes and nays? Well… you know, I’m going to have to take this one down point-by-point, and I didn’t want to do that.
I strongly believe that doing nothing will destroy the financial security of millions of Americans and possibly lead us into a depression. I just as strongly believe the bill as now negotiated will arrest the crisis and begin to turn our economy around.

Ah yes, lead off with the false dichotomy. Voting this bill down = do nothing. How about: flush this steaming load and come up with something that actually addresses the problem? FAIL.

I know that my vote in favor of this package was not the politically popular thing to do, but this is not a popularity contest. This is about the future of our country and the future that my children and grandchildren will inherit. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind or my heart that my vote in support of this measure was the right thing for our economy, for Georgians, and for our country.

Translation: I was paid well for my vote. But where have I heard that “this is not a popularity contest” cant? Oh yeah: McSame during the debate.

I did not support the original proposal submitted by the Administration because it did not address the critical needs of the American taxpayer, community banks, retirees, and small businesses and it concentrated too much power in a small group to administer the plan. …

Moreover, when the House rejected the plan, the economy suffered a $1.2 trillion dollar blow in the stock market, which only made more apparent the impact this credit crunch is having on Main Street. Specifically, in some cases, Georgia community banks are unable to make auto loans.

And the new plan does? As I understand it, it’s the plan the House rejected with a few tax credit extensions and a bump in FDIC coverage. FAIL #2

Oh dear, a $1.2 trillion dollar blow, and no mention that 2/3 of that came right back the next day. And banks are unable to make loans? Making loans is what banks do; either they make loans with necessary and prudent conditions attached or they close. End of story. If they can’t make loans, they might as well shut down.

TAXPAYERS ARE PROTECTED. In its current form, the legislation before the Senate protects taxpayers in many ways. Accountability, safeguards, and oversight measures are numerous. …

NOT A BLANK CHECK. I opposed the President's initial request to simply give a blank check to Secretary Paulson. I also opposed the second version submitted by the President and Congressional Democrats that would have given taxpayer money to liberal groups such as ACORN. …

NO GOLDEN PARACHUTES. CEOs and other executive officers who drove their companies into the ground will not be able to walk away with millions leaving taxpayers holding the bill. Those companies that choose to participate in the program will be subject to strict compensation limits.

NO NEW GOVERNMENT SPENDING. The language is clear - all revenue generated through the repayment of any assets purchased and any sold must be used to pay down the national debt. No money will go to pork projects, new government spending, or liberal groups such as ACORN.

Oh gasp! Liberal groups! Dude: would you please point me to a conservative advocacy group for low-income housing? Fouled it off, still 0-and-2.

HELP FOR MAIN STREET. As this crisis continues, community banks are being affected more and more. Car loans and home loans, even to those with good credit, are drying up. … If we allow this to continue, jobs will be lost, more retirement accounts will be impacted, and credit will get even tighter.

So handing Wall Street a huge wad of money is going to fix Main Street? FAIL #3, hit the showers. If we’re lucky, you’ll hit them permanently come Nov. 4.

But wait, there’s more!

PUNISH CRIMINALS. The Federal Government is actively investigating cases of fraud and abuse. Where wrongdoing is found, the perpetrators, including, if implicated, members of Congress will be brought to justice. …

ADDRESS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE WHILE WE TREAT THE SYMPTOMS. We are seeing the symptoms now - lack of trust in the banking industry, daily tightening of the credit markets, losses in personal retirement accounts - and while this legislation addresses those issues, it also goes further to treat the cancer that got us here. This legislation authorizes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to modify the 'mark to market' accounting procedures that magnified this crisis by forcing banks to mark down the value of assets they had no intention of selling in the near future. This mark down of value caused a corresponding loss of value to the institutions. The SEC has already begun the process to modify this procedure.

whiff Sax-dude, you already struck out. You can stop swinging. Any time now. So banks can hold a big steaming load of crap, and call it solid gold as long as they don’t try to sell it? Um… exactly how is this going to do anything to help with the lack of trust in the banking industry?

RETURN TRUST IN THE BANKS. By increasing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protection on bank accounts from the current $100,000 to $250,000, taxpayers and bank customers can once again trust that their money is safe in the bank of their choice.

DEBT REPAYMENT. Toxic loans will be purchased at a discount and 100% of the monies repaid to the government will go to reduce the debt we incur in this process. While we shouldn't expect full repayment, it is possible that all of the money expended will be repaid.

Yeah, and it’s possible that I’m the Queen of England. What’s the discount rate? 99 cents on the dollar? Whiff again.

PROTECT OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. If we do not act and this crisis spreads like a cancer to every segment of our economy, it will destroy not only taxpayer savings but it will erode our ability to fund our military, supply our troops with the resources they need, and protect our homeland.

Oooo, and I thought the terrorism card couldn’t be played on this one! You might have fouled that one off if there had been a pitch and the umpire wasn’t busy trying to push you out of the batter’s box.

NO TIME FOR POLITICAL FINGER POINTING. There is plenty of blame to go around but now is not the time to throw stones, now is the time to address this crisis and get our economy moving again.

Too bad you didn’t think of that before you started whining about ACORN. Whiff and the umpire dodges while the pitcher scratches his head and goes, “WTF?”

blah blah blah However, history warns us against inaction by hard lessons learned. Delaying to act would be a repeat of the mistakes of the 1920s, when thousands of banks failed before significant confidence was restored to our financial markets.

Dude, you just made it harder to actually FIX the problem. Like Mrs. Fetched, your rush to DO SOMETHING NOW is wasting time and energy while doing little to solve it.

And the ump gets some help from the 1st- and 3rd-base umpires, the catcher, and a few fans… they escort Saxby “Ignorance is” Chambliss off the field, still swinging at a ball that has long gone by.

Judas Priest. The pod people tossed a guy who left pieces of himself in Vietnam for this?

Mid-Week Cinema

This one’s too important to wait for Friday…

I hope nobody actually needed to see this, but just in case!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 6 comments

Start Bailing, Everyone

This brief clip shows a younger Bush-league speaking at a high-dollar fundraiser: “Some call you the elite, I call you my base.” Here, in the waning months of a far too long Reign of Error, that was enabled by a single vote (in the Supreme Court), Bush-league is trying to throw one last meaty ol’ bone to his “haves and have-mores” base. Of course, I’m referring to the Wall Street bailout package, known by some as the Paulson Plan.

In perfect Bush-league administration form, they ignored the problem until it became a crisis, then started beating the Fear Drums and attempted to ramrod a real stink-bomb through Congress — what amounted to a check for $700 billion with carte blanche for Paulson to do with it as he pleased, even including a pre-emptive Congressional pardon for violations of any laws along the way. Basically, he could have pocketed the money and bought him a nice little palace in the Keys without any repercussions even possible.

Amazingly, the goplet lapdogs in Congress and their media talking heads opposed it — some on the Dem side suggest that the idea was to force it through Congress without goplet support, then use it against Democrats running for re-election. Two problems: the Dems insisted on bi-partisan support (knowing it was going to be unpopular) and people overwhelmed Congress with variations of “there’s nothing in it for us, we’re not paying for it.” I was one of millions who beat the house.gov and senate.gov servers to death this week, I’m happy to say, telling my sinnertors and reprehensible what I thought of this bailout. I got a detailed response from Sen. Isakson, the only one of the three not up for re-election this year, who called for several sensible modifications. Of course, none of them appeared in the version voted on today (and Sen. Isakson supported).

After the bill went down in the House on Monday, the so-called revision is basically the same bill with a couple of tax credit extensions and an increase in FDIC coverage — basically, the same pig with a fresh coat of lipstick. And the House and Senate servers continue to get hammered.

I’d like to think Speaker Pelosi was playing a subtle game on Monday. The goplets blamed her for their decision to vote down the package on Monday, after she mildly criticized the right-wing economic policies that led to the current problem. I want to think she’s dangling tax cuts in front of the goplets (ooh, shiny!) so that the bill passed with their support (while peeling away votes from her own caucus), but this Congress has been way too quick to roll over for Bush-league for me to believe it.

I remember writing a story during my high school days that had, as a backdrop, “the economic collapse in 2000.” We are being told that this bailout package is necessary to avoid a real collapse in 2008… but many economists say it won’t help. If we do end up with an economic collapse, at least the people who perpetrated this massive theft will go down with the rest of us — of course, if things stay together, we’ll probably drown while holding the fat cats out of the water. I can only hope that if Obama gets elected in five weeks, that he’ll give each congressional Democrat a shiny new spine for Christmas. You know the Republicans are bought and paid for by Wall Street, and they’ll do what they always do: shovel as much money as they can at the people who need it least and blame the rest of us for not working hard enough or whatever. They will obstruct, filibuster, whine like the crybabies they are on every show that points a camera at them, but we can hope that by 2010 they won’t be more than a noisy non-entity.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2 comments


There are times when living on Planet Georgia has its compensations. And then there are times — like now — when I’m embarrassed to admit it.

Did someone turn the clock back to 1957 when I wasn’t looking?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 13 comments

Flowers of FAR Manor: Allium (and a random road weed, and other stuff)

The allium is continuing to tantalize us with a verrrrry slow opening. But the color is looking nicer all the time. Given the size of the clusters — the largest is bigger than a baseball now — it could well be a Giganteum as IVG was hoping.

I ended up staking the thing because it was looked close to falling over — like I said before, the tallest one stands close to 6 feet tall, and the clusters are getting huge and heavy. It still has an onion/garlic smell.

Daughter Dearest is officially an international beauty — a guy came all the way from Norway (Norway!!!) to see her. He was happy to find that my old Mac G3 had Linux lurking on a partition somewhere, and immediately hooked up to the cluster (he said) under his bed back home. I’m having a great time driving DD nutz by describing him as “some guy she picked up on the Internet.” >8-} He doesn’t like MacOS, but at least he’s not a Doze-nut. I can live with that.

And finally:

Campaign signThis roadside weed caught my eye. The perfect campaign slogan immediately (and I mean immediately) came to mind: Republican Light — screwing a third less poor people than our regular Republican!

Such is Historic Forsyth Country these days. Be goplet or be gone.

Monday, May 28, 2007 6 comments


Iowa Victory Gardener writes an excellent Memorial Day post.

No matter how low our opinion of the “Commander Guy,” we must never lose sight of the people that he’s sending overseas to die for the glory of his ego. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of our underequipped, thinly-stretched soldiers would rather be home with their families today (you and me) — enjoying a Memorial Day barbecue, or even doing house work — but duty calls, and the good soldier answers. As Gordon Dickson wrote: “Soldier, ask not - now, or ever, where to war your banners go.”

On this Memorial Day, as we are engaged in the Second Oil War, let us all — soldiers and civilians alike — remember that we all have our duty. Let us perform it to the best of our ability.

For those of us who want our troops home with their families next Memorial Day, we too have a duty, a duty to act on our convictions. I don’t use the term “Second Oil War” lightly — the first was Desert Storm, aka Kuwait — as it’s easy to see that this is about nothing but oil. The proof is as easy as looking at Iraq and Darfur — why are we embroiled in one and not the other? I remember a protest sign from the First Oil War: “What if Kuwait exported broccoli?”

So what is our duty, those of us who want an end to this waste of time and lives? If the true reason for war is oil, then it’s up to all of us to make oil less important. It’s not easy, though: oil pervades nearly everything in our lives. It’s in our fertilizers, plastics, (of course) our gas tanks, and the asphalt we drive on is what’s left over when all the other stuff is pulled out of the oil. Manufacturing, mining, shipping, lumbering, agriculture, all require diesel fuel.

Admitting that oil is necessary to our “non-negotiable way of life” is one thing, it’s quite another to admit that we are past — or at best, very near — “peak oil,” the maximum point of oil supply that we will ever see. Supply is dwindling, and will continue to do so, while demand has just kept going up. That’s why we’re already paying post-Katrina prices for gas before hurricane season has even started. We can’t do anything about the supply, but we can — and it’s our duty to — do something about demand.

One of the lasting legacies of WWII is the collection of posters and other artwork, exhorting the civilians of the time to support the war effort — by supporting rationing, growing one’s own food in “Victory Gardens,” recycling scrap material, carpooling (even though we, hard as it is to believe, were the Saudi Arabia of the day), and all sorts of other sacrifices. Quite the contrast to Commander Guy’s “go shopping,” huh? Even during the 70s, we had myraid PSAs on the radio that drilled us with all sorts of tips to save gas. Where are those PSAs today? Well heck, we don’t need them — we know what our duty is. Let’s get to it.

Our friends and loved ones overseas are depending on us.


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