Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Addicted to oil? Well, duh...

What 12-step program did coke-head Bush attend?
Bush to Say 'America Is Addicted to Oil' in Talk (AP)

In his state of the union speech tonight Bush will suggest that "America is addicted to oil...The best way to break this addiction is through technology."

I'm sure Bush's proposed technology fix for American oil dependency is really intended as a means of directing millions of "research" dollars to his buddies at Halliburton, ExxonMobil, etc. Such "research" spending will likely have similar results as all the "reconstruction" spending in Iraq: enrichment of Bush cronies, a few photo-op projects, and increased hardship for the purported beneficiaries.

A more cost-effective and immediate way to break our oil addiction is through conservation and greater efficiency. Among other things, this would mean improving mass transit, biking, and walking--giving people an alternative to driving. Cleaner air and improved public health would be additional benefits of such an approach.

But such conservation might hurt the bottom line of the oil companies. And Bush ain't gonna go there.

Finding humor in Alito's confirmation

My brother wrote me today, in the wake of Alito's confirmation:

> OK Dude,
> I am in the dumps. Alito is about to be approved. I knew this
> was going to happen but in the back of my mind I was hoping, Just
> hoping, that the democrats would take this issue as their torch and
> actually do something positive for the people. I know O'Connor was no
> leftist and that she mostly sided with the corporate elite but she
> was better than what we are about to go through.
> You always bring me back to reality.
> Jeff
> http://costofwar.com
> "Resistence is a mussel that must be exercised or it will
> atrophy" -Eliza gilkyson

Hey Jeff,

Yeah, it's crappy. The essential fact is that Democrats are not an opposition party; they are partners in maintaining the American empire. This is one bad defeat. We pick up, dust off, and continue the struggle.

As a marxist, I console myself (or try to) by looking historically and internationally. (Historical materialism, class struggle, and internationalism are the foundations of Marxism.)

As bad as Alito is, he's not going to make decisions that return people like Dred Scott to slavery. While religio-fundamentalist whackos like Bush, Pat Robertson, and such might like to go back to the dark ages of superstition and ignorance; the atheists who run the capitalist system are making too much money with the gains of the scientific revolution to allow it to be reversed. So too much history has passed, and while some gains are at risk, capitalism is a dynamic system that constantly undermines itself and creates its own gravedigger.

And I take hope by looking internationally. Things are happening in Latin America, Asia, the World Social Forum, and elsewhere that are challenging the ability of the American empire to maintain its hegemony. See yesterday's article on Counterpunch:

Things are indeed dark. And likely to get darker still. We live in a rapidly declining empire, and the rulers ain't happy about it. But history is on our side. Or at least I hope so. It always has been. I wouldn't be literate, have a college education, be married to a college graduate, have openly gay friends, and live a relatively comfortable privileged life if it wasn't. We'd still be peasants in the shit, like the commune in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

LARGE MAN: Who's that then?
CART DRIVER (Grudgingly): I dunno, must be a king.
CART DRIVER: He hasn't got shit all over him.

Some Monty Python just screams for more, don't it? Here's another favorite scene, an early example of the medieval class struggle:

ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. What knight lives in that castle?

OLD WOMAN: No one live there.

ARTHUR: Well, who is your lord?

OLD WOMAN: We don't have a lord.


DENNIS: I told you, We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune, we take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.


DENNIS: ... But all the decisions of that officer ...

ARTHUR: Yes, I see.

DENNIS: ... must be approved at a bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs.

ARTHUR: Be quiet!

DENNIS: ... but a two-thirds majority ...

ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to shut up.

OLD WOMAN: Order, eh -- who does he think he is?

ARTHUR: I am your king!

OLD WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.

ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.

OLD WOMAN: Well, how did you become king, then?

ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held Excalibur aloft from the bosom of the water to signify by Divine Providence ... that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur ...That is why I am your king!

DENNIS: Look, strange women lying on their backs in ponds handing out swords ... that's no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

ARTHUR: Be quiet!

DENNIS: You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

ARTHUR: Shut up!

DENNIS: I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!

ARTHUR: (Grabbing him by the collar) Shut up, will you. Shut up!

DENNIS: Ah! NOW ... we see the violence inherent in the system.

ARTHUR: Shut up!

PEOPLE (i.e. other PEASANTS) are appearing and watching.

DENNIS: (calling) Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help, help, I'm being repressed!

ARTHUR: (aware that people are now coming out and watching) Bloody peasant!
(pushes DENNIS over into mud and prepares to ride off)

DENNIS: Oh, Did you hear that! What a give-away.

ARTHUR: Come on, patsy.

They ride off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Greyhound's Demise? Blame motorist subsidies, not Amtrak

Letters to the Editor
Sacramento Bee
2100 Q Street
Sacramento, CA 95816


I was saddened to hear the news that Greyhound is ending its Quicklink commuter service between Sacramento and San Francisco. ("Left out in the cold", 1/22/06) However, I was very disappointed that your writer used this termination as an opportunity to slam the popular Amtrak Capitol Corridor service.

All transportation modes are subsidized. Has Greyhound paid all the costs for construction and operations of Interstate 80, the park-n-ride lots where it collects passengers, or the Transbay Terminal where it drops commuters? No. Do motorists pay the full costs of roads, parking, police, fire, emergency service, courts, trauma centers, and environmental mitigation? Hardly.

However, your writer chose to hang the pejorative "state-subsidized" solely onto the Capitol Corridor, as if this were the cause of Greyhound's failed service. I was especially disappointed that your writer used as his principal source Wendell Cox, a widely-debunked and notorious lobbyist for the auto industry. (See: http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_00014.htm)

Again, all transportation modes are subsidized; automobile travel is obviously the most heavily subsidized mode. In an era of increasing congestion, rising energy costs, and growing environmental challenges, we need to provide more options to driving. Clearly this includes efficient passenger rail, such as the Capitol Corridor.


Paul Dorn