I have ignored this blog for so long. Sigh.
Regarding the current race for president, I am soooooo tired of the obsessive 24/7 coverage that gives us redundant playbacks of all of the "critical" moments of the campaign and the constant coverage and analysis.
Here is my take. Any, any one of the Democratic candidates would be better than any of the Republican candidates.
Right now, the pundits are microscopically examining the results of the Iowa and the New Hampshire voting. What's the big deal?
This election will most likely offer up a strong candidate from the Democratic party that will either be a woman or a non-white male. What a historic event. I could live with either or Edwards for that matter (or Kucinich for even further afield that matter).
What I cannot live with is someone who believes the world is flat, evolution is an illusion, that walls should be built around the United States, that starting wars is the proper model for a world super power, that tax cuts are the solution, and that global warming is caused by trees.
I look forward to the election.
I am reminded of the old story about the frogs in the pot. I've never actually tried it so I don't know if it is true. I will gladly bow to those who are more sure about that than I. You know the one I'm talking about though. It's the one that says that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out, but if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and then turn the heat on gently, it will sit there until it boils to death. What do you think? Is it true?
I was just reading another blog out there in this amazing soapbox space where folks who live south of where I do were railing about the weather and how cold it was. There were the usual comments about global warming and Al Gore and how it's a bunch of horse puckey and he's an idiot. Perhaps. We humans are easily spooked and have jumped to a number of wrong conclusions about the earth and what it is and what part we play on it.
Some hold that we are the top of the heap and blessed by a supreme being and have some divine role to play out as foretold in whichever religious text you care to quote. Some say that we are just in another natural cycle that causes the temperatures in the air and the oceans to rise and fall. Some believe that the earth is a sentient being and we are no more than a form of virus or bacilli that live on the very most outer layer. I have learned that when I jump to conclusions, more often than not, I am seldom as right as I might wish.
There seems to be little disagreement about one thing however - temperatures are rising overall all over the globe. Whether mankind is the sole cause of this or not can be debated ad infinitum, but let me go out on a limb here and say that to rule out a role by mankind, and to say that we should not try to rethink our present lifestyles and energy usage, is to hear ourselves croaking in the pot.
The scientific data, as far as I can tell as a layman, is very clear. The correlation between the rise in average temperatures in the air and in the ocean is too tight to the increase in carbon dioxide to be coincidental. You can argue that we are not the sole cause of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and as far as that argument goes, you would be correct, but humankind and its burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause. You can call those who say that "idiots," but when you do, I hear croaking.
I am no angel in this matter. I am as guilty as the next with my cars, my computers, my refrigerators, my air conditioners, my TV's that never turn all the way off, my clock radios that always glow red. I am a very guilty American and have no reason to tar and feather any fellow consumer of four times the energy per person than the rest of the world. But, I also believe we need to change or we will see our children, or their children dying in this big blue pot we live in.
You can think what you wish about Al Gore, but on this one, he is right.
Drug War Gone Bad
Yesterday, there were a couple of specials on our local NPR station, one local and one national, about the state of the War on Drugs and how effective it has been over the last 40 years. Predictably, the opinions were all over the map as were the suggestions for the future. For what it's worth, here is my view.
Where there is a market demand, there will be suppliers that will meet that demand. If you criminalize the product, the suppliers will be criminals. At that point, maintaining criminalization will result in four negative conditions: 1) the criminal infrastructure will be strengthened and their coffers enriched. 2) Taxpayers will be charged to persecute the "war" on illegal drugs (a largely futile exercise). 3) Citizens who lead otherwise legal and productive lives are labeled criminals for using drugs other than alcohol to alter their mood. 4) Citizens who seek a drug such as marijuana are forced into contact with a profit motivated and increasingly violent sub-culture to acquire the product. The suppliers encourage the users to try more profitable and perhaps habit forming products (taking cues from the tobacco industry) to ensure a steady cash flow.
In my view, the US government is achieving the exact opposite of its stated objectives. It puts its citizens in the position of dealing with criminals to satisfy a market condition. Those citizens then become criminals themselves. The flow of resources from the market goes to a crime-based economy that does not participate in the support of the US infrastructure (other than through bribes).
The solution (agian in my personal opinion) is to legalize drug use and supply said mood altering products through state owned outlets. At the same time, advertising of such products would be prohibited. Just because it would be legal to purchase beer, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or wine, there is no reason to encourage or manipulate the public into buying. The demand is there already.
Change the flow of money from the illegal suppliers to the legal infrastructure that is already in place. Tax the purchases appropriately. Fund treatment programs for those who need or wish to change their usage patterns. Protect the public at large from inappropriate use of drugs such as driving while intoxicated or other antisocial behavior.
Of course, I don't expect to see this in my lifetime, but I continue to be puzzled that the public at large continues to participate in such a negative and hippocritical process as the "war on drugs" while happily guzzling their favorite lite beer and toking on a tobacco cigarette.
Support a Terrorist - Drive an SUV
Is it just me? When you hear the strident calls from the middle east saying, "Death to the infidels," don't they mean "imbeciles?" Because that's what I see when I look around me at all the giant behemoths of the beltway, each trying to outdo the other in size and weight as they jostle on the freeways and try to squeeze into the parking places while their patriot owners graze at the malls. It is so ironic to see the "Support our Troops" ribbons slapped all over the flanks of these suburban assault vehicles. Their owners ranting about the undermining of freedom from the left while they send money with every mile to the true threat to their lifestyle.
Infidel? Imbecile? Interchangeable here, really. And for those in the Middle East who wish to see us dead - have patience. We are taking care of that ourselves.
Don't know bout how it is where you come from, but up here, we periodically have to suffer through periods where the state legislature gets it in it's little head that they have to straighten out the whole debate about marriage. This predominately focuses on the question of whether same-sex marriage is a blasphemous act, or one that should be worthy of the same high regard that two-sex marriage is held (and let's just disregard the divorce rate statistics for now, oh, and the spousal abuse stuff too).
These periods of legislative navel gazing correspond usually to times when more pressing business on their agendas becomes too depressing for the poor representatives of the people, or times when the Republicans gain a majority. Let it not be said that they don't know how to worry a bone to death either. If they put as much work into the health care problem, or the environment, or funding a decent education system, the citizens of this good state would be in clover.
Now, it seems to me, that all this brouhaha is just so much bunk. There are two sides to this argument and they are not right/wrong, left/right, Democrat/Republican or anything like that. There is the civil side (legal contracts, inheritance, medical coverage and visitation, power of attorney, etc.) and the religious side (is God happy with your choice of mate). These are clear and separate issues and should be handled as such.
On the civil side, if two adults decide they want to set up shop together, they should be able to enter into a contract and everyone should be treated the same. Plain and simple. Done deal.
If two (or more) adults want God in all its names to recognize their union, they should go to their local church of choice and talk to the head shaman about having a ceremony. Said ceremony would have no impact on the civil contract.
Adults could do one or the other or both, but the contracts in each case would be unique. God doesn't decide custody or inheritance and the state does not interpret religious mores. The only time there would be interference between the two adjudicating bodies would be if a person's spiritual beliefs advocated for behavior that would contravene the laws of the land in which case the state would have the legal say so.
So, there you have it. Simple.
Patriots don't drive SUV's.
Passing More Gas
Everybody is talking about global warming, but once again calling to mind the old adage and warning about confusing activity with progress. All of the politico's are posturing and positioning, preparing their stances so they can say "Look. Look at what I good thing I did to fight global warning." And while I am happy to see that the topic is finally being pulled out from under the carpet at last, I continue to be disappointed in the level of action.
Both at the state and the national level, the focus is being put on alternative fuels and increased domestic production. You guys just don't get it. Where's that 2x4? You need a good smack upside the head.
Global warming exacerbated by carbon-dioxide production that is a result of using hydro-carbons as a fuel source. That's gasoline, coal, AND ethanol. Plus, to grow all that corn, you need increased production and consumption of fertilizer (more petroleum product production) and then you need to convert it to ethanol, which requires more energy input using - guess what? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
No, if you want to do something right now to reduce CO2 levels, put a big, fat, tax on gasoline and gasoline products. That is the only thing that will get you and I to drive less and to start using something other than the ubiquitous Supreme Ubergazzolholic Vehicle to haul our overweight asses around while we talk over the latest goings on of Oprah with our best buds through a cell phone that has been permanently inserted into our ear.
Windmills won't do it. Ethanol won't do it. Nuclear power won't do it. Mandating another mile or two per gallon of gas won't do it. Only a sizable tax on gasoline will do it, AND it would do it right now.
Who's got the guts to put that in place? Not the Republocrats. When one filters out the political verbiage, the miracle cures, the oh-so-careful nudges that might move us in a too-little-too-late manner toward a "better" place vis-a-vis global warning - there is no one who has the gumption to propose the one thing that would have two big positive results - a reduction in driving and an increase in revenue. No one.
And who out there reading this (yes, I mean YOU - the one person to actually stop and read this far in the last two weeks) would agree to such a plan? I would bet that most of us would reject it. For it would mean we would have to think twice about firing up all six, eight, or ten cylinders in our eight foot high, 12 foot long, 14 mile to the gallon suburban land yacht to go get junior at the mall. Good God, can't have that.