Gas Out the Roof - what do we do?

Gas is higher than $4.00 a gallon in many parts of the US, and by the looks of it, it'll keep rising over the next year. Predictions seem to indicate that we might see a $5.00 per gallon price within the next 3 months, $6-7.00 per gallon by next year, and some even say we could see $12-15 in the not too distant future. Sure, this may be a "boy who cried wolf" or "the sky is falling" scenerio - it may be a political scandal to push an agenda (like many of you seem to think Global Warming is) but it COULD be a real problem. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it is a real threat and a real problem, we (by we I mean us as citizens and our govenrment) don't act quickly, it could lead to disaster.

My frustration is that the Gas has been steadily rising since 9/11. No, It's been steadily rising the 60's, or something, but we have ignored it - just kind of grinned and bared it - but, will we be able to really bear it when one tank of gass for a small two-door sedan costs $165?

In Many parts of Europe, including the UK, I'm hearing, Gas already costs nearly $12 per gallon (That is Dollars, not Euros). So, this is not far fetched fiction. As I said earlier, our government needs to do something, as do we as citizens.

We could talk all day about what we feel the government should do. That doesn't make them actually doing something any more likely. In my opinion, we need strong leaders who pass legislation to support the development and cost-effectiveness of alternate energy sources. There are a myrid of options - Hydrogen, Electric, Solar, etc - but the problem is that they haven't become a commercially viable option because they all seem cost prohibitive. Fully electric cars are still astronomically priced, and Hybrids are not cheap. That's where the govenrment could help, be it with tax breaks, research assistance, increase in publich transoprtation, whatever - there needs to be a pro-active stance taken. Whatever the government does, I do not think that ripping up our natural reasources in the USA is the answer. I've heard the phrase "screw the caribou" thrown around these last few days as a slogan to promote drilling in Alaska. Honestly, part of my reasoning is because I quite like pristine nature, and I don't think it's our responsibility to mess up every beautiful tract of land on this planet. But, in addition to that, It is such a temporary fix - Gas is a limited commodity. It won't last forever. Our mindset should not be "stop the US dependance on foreign oil" but, rather, "stop the US dependance on ANY oil."

But more important and more immediate than asking, "what should the government do?" is for the individual to adjust his or her life to be prepared for whatever comes. I don't know about you, but in my ward, these last few months, Emergency Preparedness has really been stressed. I have a feeling it's a church wide thing - And I don't think it takes a prophet to know that we are headed for hard times. So, what do we do about curbing the heroine-like addictions that we as a nation and individuals have to gasoline? I mean, throw all the environmental reasons (of which I am so fond) aside - the cost alone will break all but the most wealthy of us.

One option (that is more a quick bide-your-time fix than anything) is Propane - according to my friend who works on engins for a living, Propane burns just very slightly less efficently than Petrolium - which means you would get just a very small amount less travel per gallon - and it burns clean, with virtually no byproduct. Currently, Propane is about $2.50 per gallon.

Hybrids and Smart Cars - these are great ways to increase your miles to the gallon, but they are still both dependant on Gasoline. Smart Cars are really cool looking, though.

Bio-fuel - This is NOT a viable option - it's a failed experiment - lets not keep fooling ourselves - the reason Wheat is so high right now is because farmers stopped growing wheat to grow corn to turn into fuel. Not only that, but the Slash/Burn policy in the Brazilian Amazon has become an even bigger problem because those farmers have decided Corn is more important than the Rain Forest.

Electric and Hydrogen - For some reason (I'm a conspiricy theorist, so don't ask me why - chances are you won't like my answer) These just havn't made it yet. Here's hoping.

Public Transportation - Look, guys - it really isn't that bad. I've relied on public transportation in Utah, Arizona, Southern California, Northern California, Phildelphia, you name it. It's an adventure, it's entertaining, but - It's not the horror that you imagine. The more we use it, the more money will be put into the system, and the better it will be.

Bikes - you laugh, but seriously - there is no better way to get around. I haven't missed my car one bit in this last year. Except when it rains. But that's why god gave us rain coats and umbrellas.

Walking - We all have a different background, but, here in Mesa, where I've relocated -and everywhere Else I've ever lived in the US, There are large shopping centers not too far from most major housing developments. God gave us legs.

Internet Shopping - Okay, a LOT of gas is wasted on eating out and shopping for useless stuff - what is the point!? Just stay home or buy it ("it" being the useless stuff you want to buy) on Amazon or Ebay - it'll probably be cheaper. Go for a walk in the park, instead.

Planning - Jillions of Dollars of gas could be saved every year if we just planned our outings in the car even a little.

I know it's kind of crazy, but something in me hopes the Gas prices DO continue to rise to the astronomical levels I opened this post with - just so that people would have to start living more responsibly, and so that the govenrment's hand will be forced and they will have to work to develope alternate forms. But if it gets to that point, we, as a nation, are in trouble.


the case for Hillary('s continued candidacy), in two parts

EDIT, 5/14: had to add this pic.
Full disclosure: I've been an Obama backer from the beginning. I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton, and I never have been. I think John McCain would defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election. I also think Barack Obama will defeat John McCain in the general election.

Now that that's settled... Everyone seems to be saying Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race, that she can't win, that she's mathematically eliminated, that she's hurting Obama's chances at the nomination, that she's hurting the party, that she's ruining her own political future, that she's too egotistical to drop out, etc., etc.

I've been thinking about it a lot, and you know what?

They're all wrong. Hillary should stick around.

Part I. Why Hillary Clinton should remain in the race

Like it or not, the Democrats have superdelegates. What does this mean? Well, it means that in the event of multiple candidates coming out of the primary season with a good-sized share of delegates, the party bigwigs can basically pick who they want. When people talk about this system going against "the will of the people", they forget that the Democratic Party is not our government. It's a political party, and those who control it can do whatever they want, and if citizen Democrats don't like it, they can lobby for change, or leave the party. The Democratic Party isn't obligated to choose as its nominee the person who wins the most delegates in the primaries. I know it seems unfair because it seems like whoever gets the most votes should win, like in the government, but it's perhaps more aptly compared to Ben and Jerry's running a promotion in which you vote on what ice cream flavor you'd like to see made permanent. Then Ben and Jerry might look over the results and see that 55% want Fig Newton, 40% want Nutter Butter, and 5% want Oatmeal. This gives them some good evidence that Fig Newton may be the optimal choice, but they may take into account some other factors and decide that Nutter Butter is more likely to post better sales numbers across the board - for example, maybe they figure that even though Fig Newton fares better than Nutter Butter among their customers who care enough to submit a vote, Nutter Butter will outsell Fig Newton against the newest Häagen-Dazs flavor.

The facts of the matter are these: though Sen. Obama has an insurmountable lead in delegates awarded via primary, they are neck-and-neck in pledged superdelegates. If Sen. Clinton can convince enough superdelegates that she's the best choice for the party - an argument she is making with all of her might - then she'll be the rightful nominee. The scenario is not really that far-fetched, especially since Clinton is about to demolish Obama in a few primaries. And, though many have frothed at the mouth about how a superdelegate coup would "destroy the party" - it wouldn't. It would be forgotten about as quickly as the Supreme Court coup in the general election was forgotten in 2000.

Part II. Why Barack Obama is the better choice

However, if I was a superdelegate, I'd carefully look at Clinton and Obama and quickly realize that Obama's general election chances are superior to Clinton's. The crux of her argument that she would fare better against McCain is that she is more popular among white voters; therefore, since there are so many more white voters than black, she's the better pick. And, yes, it's sad that we're reducing this to racial terms in 2008, but that's another story. Anyway, the Senator from New York is conveniently one important fact:

Republicans loathe Hillary Clinton.

That's right, my friends: they hate her. And as I've said before, whether they should or shouldn't feel that way is irrelevant - what's relevant is that they won't vote for her. Clinton has more support among white Democrats, but it's likely that the Democrats will coalesce around the candidate (especially when the nomination loser asks his/her supporters to do so). That leaves Republican crossover votes. Who is more likely to bring Republicans over to his/her side? Obama. Who is more likely to inspire Democrats to go vote who might not otherwise do so? Obama. If Obama is nominated, it'll take a lot more work by McCain & Co. to get Republicans to come out and vote against him; he simply hasn't been in the national spotlight long enough to be as roundly disliked by the right as Hillary has. She's the one person who can make the Republicans - who are still pretty iffy about ol' Big Mac - come out in droves to support him. It would be a colossal misstep by the Democrats to nominate Hillary. Plus, setting aside everything I said earlier about superdelegates, McCain would immediately set to work as the candidate of the bigwigs, the "one who couldn't even get a legit win in her own party." It'd work; that kind of thing sells well.

So stick around, Hillary; tough this thing out for a while longer. Make your pitch to the party elite; The Clintons, for all their faults, are tenacious and have a history of winning. She's earned the right to be in the race. Let's have a thrilling convention.


The Government's Current Affairs, quoting Glenn Beck

Basically, Glenn Beck starts out with the following scenarios, all of which we've heard the likes of before (sadly) and make a great point for what is WRONG with America today:

"#1 A woman who says she lost more $1 million gambling in Atlantic City sues some casinos for $20 million, claiming they should've stopped her compulsive gambling.

#2 People who bought houses they couldn't afford with loans they didn't understand want their lenders to change the terms.

#3 Congress authorizes a war and then tries everything it can think of to get out of it.

#4 Our country gets addicted to oil and then blames OPEC when it doesn't like the price.

These stories prove how personal responsibility has all but vanished in America, and our government is leading the way."

Glenn Beck makes an excellent point: just as children learn from their parents, we the American people are taking the government's example to heart and are doing everything in our power to avoid taking the fall. People want their cake, they want to eat it, and they want to avoid paying full-price for it.

This attitude drives me nuts. Unfortunately I am more than aware that I am in the minority here. How am I supposed to live an honest life, doing what is right by my fellow man, trying to be an upright citizen who upholds the law of the land when the majority of other citizens just don't care about being honest? Or they don't care about working hard for what they have, preferring to do whatever it takes to get as much handed to them on a silver platter as possible?

The answer, to me, is to be honest anyway. Even if I know that other people are going to do everything in their power to get ahead (meaning that they are willing to bend the rules, lie, cheat, [insert more descriptors]) I still need to maintain my personal integrity and refuse to be persuaded to join them.

This leads to me to a bigger question: how is the populace supposed to function from day to day in a country where people cannot be counted on? The government cannot be counted on? Everything is taken to an extreme in order to avoid potential lawsuits?

The answer to this, in my opinion, is that it can't. Functioning on the grand scale will cease; at least, it will become more inefficient and sluggish than it is now. Hard to imagine that isn't it? Interactions and deals will be brought to a minimum due to a lack of trust and fear of losing everything to pay court fees, and people will reduced to minimal interaction with any group mainly due to lack of trust.

Think about it. The whining, complaining, ill-will, mindset that ripping off big businesses is ok because after all, they are just a big business that can absorb the loss, getting away with not paying debts and boasting about it...what is this teaching our children? What does this say about our society?

So perhaps the biggest question of all is this: how do we bring integrity back to America?

*If you'd like to read the actual article I'm quoting, click here.


Terrorism Comes In Many Forms

I love 24; the first seasons were the best, but I've got high hopes for season 7, and I can't BELIEVE we have to wait until next January for it. In 24, Jack Bauer runs around trying to save the world, and in the process he does some nasty things to some terrorists. There's definitely a subtle conservative message in the show, if you associate putting security over individual liberties with conservatism (and, yes, George W. Bush is still the Republican standard-bearer).

As a nation we have forgotten the words of FDR: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." We have allowed fear of terrorism to cause us to strike out blindly in Iraq, which has been an unmitigated disaster. Perhaps worst of all, we have allowed this fear to corrupt us morally to the point where our administration utilizes torture in the name of national security.

Check out this link. Do you remember John Ashcroft? He was the first-term Attorney General in the Bush Administration, famous for stuff like: losing a U.S. Senate election to a dead guy, pushing through the PATRIOT Act, and being the Bush posterboy for civil liberties violations. Long story short, Ashcroft was answering questions in a public forum, and some kid brought up the fact that, in 1947, the United States convicted a Japanese officer of war crimes for using waterboarding on an American civilian, and sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. The crux of Ashcroft's response was that American waterboarding doesn't compare to what the Japanese officer did, because the documents the questioner referred to said that the officer "forced" water on the torturee, whereas we Americans are simply "pouring" it.

It's very different, you see, because it's "pouring", not "forcing".

Is this really what we've been reduced to? Quibbling over the semantics of simulated drowning? It is torture. It is un-American. It is morally wrong. And it's not just torture. It's holding people without trials and the decay of other rights.

What's the legacy of 9/11 in this nation? For a while, the legacy was a sense of national pride, a sense of unity. Do you remember how we came together as a nation after that tragedy? I will never forget it. Unfortunately, 9/11 was also the starting point that enabled the Bush administration to use the politics of fear to accomplish its political purposes.

The minute we start sacrificing human rights in the name of national security is the minute we have no security at all!

I hope the next president -- be it Clinton, Obama, or former POW John McCain -- will have the integrity and the courage to stand up and say, "We are the United States of America. We will take the moral high ground. We will find a better way."