Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Hummer happy

The price of gasoline is not exactly biting me in the hinder, but I bet it is you.

If you’ve got a Hummer or a Suburban or other eight-cylinder SUV, you may be giving your kids’ college education away to the Arabs.

I’m not hurting because I have a small car and don’t drive much, but if you’re living way out there and have to transport kids and dogs and Granny to the places they want to go, you’re watching $50 bills fly out the window.

Oil has reached a 21-year high at more than $40 a barrel, the oil companies are chalking up record profits and the people who live on top of the sand that sits on top of the oil say the high prices aren’t their fault.

Say, this may be crazy, but I’ve got an idea: Why don’t we make our own fuel?

The idea might not go down too well with some folks in Washington ("What’s a Bush without petroleum?" you might ask.), but the technology is here to do it.

If the United States would act to end oil dependence and create abundant crop-based fuels, farmers in this country would come out way ahead and the nation would not give so much money to people in the Middle East who seem to like us less and less day by day,

The U.S. has long talked about ending oil dependence with the development of ethanol, an oil made from vegetation, because it would not only aid farmers but improve the environment and enhance the nation's energy security.

Most ethanol is produced from the goody part of corn. But new biotech advances could lead to the cost-effective use of a wide variety of materials, including corn stalks and wheat straw to produce ethanol and other products now derived from fossil fuels. If this works, we could still harvest the nutritional part of the plants for human and animal food and use the straw for fuel.

Currently, ethanol makes up only about 2 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption.

The United States and developing countries could grow their own fuels and redirect financial resources from imported oil to other investments like health and education.

With gas prices at all-time highs, climate change threatening the world's ecosystem and persistent global poverty increasing, there is a life raft out there in the form of farm-produced energy and all we have to do is grab it.

Or go broke trying to pay for Middle East oil until it runs out.

Happy Hummer.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Who gets to marry?

On one recent day the Commonwealth of Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples and President Bush, who didn’t like the idea, said in a statement, "The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges."

Back in February, Bush said that he favors amending the Constitution of the United States to make it clear that gay couples don’t have the same rights as the rest of us.

I have to tell you, I don’t understand why gay folks are so eager to enter into a marriage contract, but I sure don’t follow this "sacred" argument or the need the modify the Constitution.

Marriage is a civil deed. Law, not the church requires marriage licenses, and the licenses are recorded at government offices in every state of the nation and most nations of the world, as far as I know. Such records have many useful purposes. You can even have a legal marriage anywhere in the United States without any sacred-type ritual at all and many people do.

On the other hand, when a marriage is unmade – as most of them are in this country – it’s done by a judge. The church is out of the picture entirely.
So, if marriage is a sacred institution – as the president says – how can it be undone without de-sanctifying it in some way? But it’s not. Never.

Is it the president’s opinion, I wonder, that a busted marriage be de-sanctified like an old church building that is no longer needed and is to be sold off for use in some secular purpose? Could an exorcism be performed over the marriage license that is to be nullified by the court?

Look at it this way:
If George E. Bush and the lovely Laura were to decide to call it quits, the church would issue no decree, would not act to undo the words spoken by a minister over young George and Laura when they got hitched down in Texas. It would be a thing done by a judge – activist or otherwise. That’s all.

If divorce is the backside of holy matrimony, how and when does it become unholy? Or does it?

It’s not very nice to get a divorce, but is it, for instance, an abomination in the eyes of the Almighty? Is it punishable by hell fire? Or is it a just a judge and a county clerk with a rubber stamp that says: "This is so over"?

I am sure you see my confusion. I hope the president will explain it in more detail for dummies like me.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004


"The evil is in plain sight. The danger only increases with denial."
–George W. Bush

Well, yes, and it worries me.
George Bush is so intent on winning the next presidential election that, in my opinion, he will do anything it takes to win.
I think he and his minders might do things that increase the dangers to all of us – if they haven’t already.
The reports that Iraqi prisoners were being treated like Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant worked over by cops in New York City a few years back, haven’t helped Bush’s moral standing in the world.
But the scandal hasn’t displaced any of the president’s women and men. The president’s gang clearly has what it takes to hang onto their jobs despite the prisoner-abuse revelations.
They must have concluded that they have the power to bring about events of great magnitude and then persuade us of the rightness of the cause. They will try to make it clear to us that we would be foolish to do anything short of giving the president another term.
Call me Chicken Little, but it is the magnitude of the deed that I think they are willing to do that scares me.
The moral constraints are off.
I think anything is possible if lesser stunts don’t seem to be working. I think they will hold nothing back.
The trouble is that in societies that are comfortable – like ours – the citizens can’t believe that a revolution is going on until it’s too late to do anything about it.
I think the bunch in power now is engaged in a revolution.
There are no halfway measures in a revolution.
They want to undo Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and much of the rest of the social legislation passed in the last 70 years.
I have no doubt that they want to get rid of taxes on capital income, but keep taxes on wages.
When you hear that the administration wants to modify Social Security, you should understand what they are really saying: Scrap the Social Security system entirely.
When you hear that they want to modify Medicare, you should hear: Scrap Medicare entirely.
When you hear the words "tax cut," don’t believe that it applies to you unless you are very rich.
When you hear "balanced budget," believe the opposite is the goal.
Like you, I have observed that through repetition, great untruths can take form as a presumed reality.
If you believe that truth will emerge from the repetition of untruth, the Bush bunch is for you.
And evil and danger are apt to follow, as the president says.

... kenmatthews@yahoo.com

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