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Saturday, September 20, 2008

How Do I Figure Out What To Talk About?

Given all the crap that has happened in the past few weeks - Sarah Palin, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Wall Street Meltdown, etc. - every day I think "I need to write something about this". And then something else happens and the first thing doesn't seem so important anymore. So then I start thinking about the new item and then something else happens. It's enough to make you just want to give up. So, here are a few scattered rants about stuff.

Sarah Palin:

I cannot believe for one minute that a) John McCain is the best candidate the Republicans could find. Surely in the ranks of the millions of R's there is someone better qualified (and younger!) who could be their candidate? and b) that Sarah Palin could be a (old, traumatized) heart beat away from being President of this country (of the world actually). What happened?

My theory is that someone somewhere decided that since 'we' liked that moron George W. Bush (a guy 'we' would like to have a beer with) that we needed an entire ticket that was even stupider than him! Of course, the last few days I think McCain is beginning to be sorry he ever heard of Sarah Palin. She slipped up (twice) and referred to the ticket as the 'Palin and McCain' administration. Ooops! And then there are now campaign signs that say simply "Sarah!" One Alaskan pundit dryly observed that if McCain thought he would be able to put her in some back office and forget about her, he was in for a big surprise. I'll quit now so my head doesn't explode.

The Hurricanes:
Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast not too far from where Katrina hit. Although the amount of physical damage that was done was great - the death toll was not high, thank goodness. People are still without power and ice, medical supplies and prescriptions, and are subsisting on MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) otherwise known as the lovely crap they feed our military personnel when they are away from the base (otherwise known as combat). For more info on this one, see the previous post.

Hurricane Ike made landfall over the top of Galveston County, Texas. The storm was over 700 miles across, and while the wind speed was a Category 2, the barometric pressure in the eye was that of a Category 4. The monster storm was moving at only about 4 miles per hour, so it seemed to take forever to move out of the area. Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula were inundated with a 20-foot or more storm surge. The Peninsula is gone, the land bridge washed away, and what remains is a barren island where several thousand people once lived.

Firefighters from Austin returned home today from working on Galveston Island. They report that absolutely nothing is left. One said he watched a pickup truck with a person inside being washed out to sea in the surge. There was nothing they could do to help.

The Galveston Island/Bolivar "Island" area is under a complete news blackout. A no-fly zone has been put up. No one is being allowed close to the area, and people are told they cannot take any pictures of the beaches even. There are reports of huge numbers of bodies up in trees, some said they were from the cemetery, but others said that could not be correct. In any case, thousands, possibly as many as 30,000 people are 'missing and presumed dead'. Anyone who chose to stay on Bolivar or Galveston is certainly dead. And most of the bodies have probably been washed out to sea and will never be found.

Of course, no one is talking about this now because of...

Wall Street Meltdown:
The neo-con agenda of completely unregulated free-market capitalism (otherwise known as unbridled greed and corruption) has run its natural course and ended in inevitable ruin. The taxpayers of this country have just taken on what could be up to $10 TRILLION in debt - all of it underwritten by bad mortgages and 'financial instruments' that are worth less than the paper they are written on. Thousands of employees of Lehman Brothers are out of work, and thousands more from Merrill Lynch and AIG are soon to follow. Ten central banks from other countries have put up $71 billion for a 'liquidity' fund - no one knows which banks, and no one knows what they are getting in return for this - screens were put up around the White House while all the negotiations were going on so no one could see who was coming and going. And it is not over yet. Washington Mutual and Goldman Sachs are looking like they will be next, Wachovia is in trouble, Citigroup is shaky, and who knows about the rest of them.

The Republicans in this administration and Congress have been telling us that we don't have enough money to fix our failing infrastructure, to pay for VA care for our wounded vets, to provide healthcare for children and the like. We are fighting two wars. And Bush gave 2 trillion dollars in tax cuts to the top 5% of the richest people in the country. We are borrowing money from China to buy oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Bush has almost doubled the national debt (before this happened) and as of right now no one, and I mean no one, knows just how much this whole thing is going to cost.

I am not a financial expert, but I think that if the taxpayers are on the hook to bail out these companies, then they should just be nationalized. If there are ever again any profits to be made from the remnants of these crooked, greedy and corrupt institutions, it should all be put back into the public till. The shareholders should be told to take a hike. And none of the upper management should receive a dime of compensation and should have to give back any money they got over and above about $100,000. If that. If they have more than one house, that should be taken back as well.

But of course, I'm not in charge here.

So....how about some comic relief?

The Palin/McCain camp has been saying that Obama has never reached across the aisle to introduce any legislation that was important.

Palin said just today that when she gets to the White House she wants to put the national 'checkbook' on the internet so people can see where there money is going - just like she did in Alaska.

One small problem.

Back in 2006, a Republican Senator by the name of Coburn and a Democratic Senator whose last name starts with 'O' sponsored a bill, the FEDERAL FUNDING ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY ACT, that put a good chunk of the national checkbook on the internet. It passed the Senate, and the House, and was signed into law by Bush. In 2007, the two of them re-authorized the bill and added even more departments and expenditures, including earmarks to the list of stuff now on the website. You can read Obama's speech to the Senate where he describes the contents of the bill here: http://ftp.fas.org/sgp/congress/2006/obama091106.html

Okay. So Obama is so uppity that he managed to leap forward in time, steal her idea, and then go back to 2006 and pass a law about it.

It must not be too important though, since according to her and McCain, Obama has never reached across the aisle to do "anything important".

Now it's kind of sad that she's so clueless. NOT.

DON'T ANYONE DARE VOTE FOR HER! Our country simply can not afford four more years.

By the way, Obama and a certain Republican Senator Lugar went to Russia, spoke with the leaders there, including actual Vladimir Putin, and then came home and wrote what many said was a landmark piece of legislation to help Russia gather up and protect a lot of 'loose nuclear material'. This bill also passed both houses and was signed into law.

But he has no foreign policy experience unlike Sarah Palin who can 'see Russia from an island in Alaska'. And he has never reached across the aisle to pass an important bill. Not one.

Yeah, I know. Lots of bad news and nothing any of us little people can do about it, right? Well, not the big stuff certainly. But remember the truism that 'all politics is local'. In this case, not politics, but survival - do what you can on a local level. I have listed some ideas below - you can think up more.

Investigate Simple Living at http://www.simpleliving.net/ for ideas on how to cut back on spending. Stop using credit cards - cut them all up. Keep your debit card - and live WITHIN your means! If you have a yard, plant a garden. Learn to preserve the stuff you grow there. If you live in a condo or an apartment, find or start a community garden. Either move closer to your job, or get a job that is closer to your home. Carpool. Ride the bus. Think before you buy stuff. Buy local. Form barter co-ops. Get to know your neighbors - you'll need them and they'll need you. Go to http://www.hivethrive.com/ and read the older posts there for ideas on community gardens and other cooperative and sustainability ideas for our communities and ourselves. Re-use as much as possible. Recycle as much as possible. Try not to buy products in tons of excess packaging (helps if you buy local - no packaging at all!) Turn off the lights. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater. Put air in your tires (!) Get a bike and ride it everywhere you can. Vacation close to home - explore your own town, have a picnic in every park, go to all the galleries, plays, and community concerts. Volunteer at a food bank - or donate to a food bank - or both. Give all the clothes you never wear to a homeless shelter. Form a committee to help do maintenance for your local public school. Make up your own ideas. Then go do them!

This economy is taking a crash dive into a deep pit right now and we cannot see the bottom. We all need to take a deep breath, remember that it is not the end of the world, but begin to develop a more sustainable lifestyle. This is not a suggestion, it is mandatory. Because if we don't do it now - and in our own way - sooner or later, and probably sooner - we will be forced into it whether we like it or not. No, it doesn't mean we all have to live in a cave and eat twigs and bark. It DOES mean that we need to be more conscious of what we buy and why, do we really NEED it or just want it.

Best wishes to all, we are going to need it in the days, weeks and months ahead.

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