Sunday, November 16, 2008

Big cars, Big Mess : The Suburbanite Conundrum - The Big Three Lie Down In Beds They Made With Our Help

It seems remarkable how the landscape of America's highways have been so visibly transformed in such a short time. Two years ago, I could barely count one sedan per ten SUV's or full size pickups; Now the exact opposite seems to be the case. Not that I have been systematically counting automobiles on the highway, rather as a matter of observation I would notice and remark at the number of really large vehicles buzzing along the roads and highways. I suspect that any person of conscience might agree with me that this phenomenon was rather alarming as vehicles on the highways seemed to grow larger and thirstier with every passing year, and their drivers became more and more lead-footed and aggressive. 
As gasoline prices sharply increased over time, I found myself quietly 'doing the math' while my wife and I drove around town in her fuel efficient Toyota Echo. As gasoline prices crested above three dollars per gallon and climbing, we were quite pleased to be getting 41 miles per gallon. I noticed the looks on the faces of Large SUV owners as they were fueling up; oftentimes, we would zip in, top off our relatively small ten gallon tank, snatch up the receipt and be on our way before the SUV owner was even halfway through filling up.

Sometimes we would pull in after an SUV owner had fueled up and balk at the staggering dollar figure still displayed on the pump under the heading "Total Sale". We were getting twice as far, and in half the time and it felt good for once! Now, thanks to higher fuel costs, the roads seem a bit calmer, quieter and more sane than they have in quite some time. For the time being, fuel prices have decreased dramatically -- this time as a result of a deflationary cycle spurred by constrictions in the global economies. Perhaps the pain to come will pale in comparison to the 'Pain at the Pump' that seemed to be the mantra of local evening new broadcasts nationwide. The demand for gasoline has dropped sharply as fewer and fewer miles are being driven by Americans, and those miles are being driven in more fuel efficient sedans and imports.

Now, the so-called 'Big Three' of the US auto industry are falling through the pegs of this weakened economy like so many 'Plinko' chips. And, there is no telling where they might land. Now, many are asking "How did we get to such a sorry state?". Well -- there are reams of documents that seek to answer that question and more. It seems Detroit dove headlong into the murky waters of Consumerism in order to make a quick buck, all the while trusting that Uncle Sam would throw them a lifeline when the treading became too perilous. Now, in this lame duck session of Congress it appears that there may be no Captain to call to muster the deckhands to throw said lifeline. We shall see. In the meantime, I will recount an especially meaningful and personal experience; not related directly to the matter, but telling of the manner in which we have arrived at this juncture.

The fall of 2004. My mother had just passed away. Amanda, who would later become my wife, lovingly stood by me during the entire process of my grieving. We were back in Rockledge for two days before the funeral. Amanda, wisely helped to distract my distraught mind by planning daily outings -- one of which was to shop the local furniture outlets for a sofa. We were due to move into an Apartment in Titusville later in that month. It seemed a good idea, I was up for it, and I drove. We were in her little Toyota Echo. It was a beautiful crisp clear Autumn day. Though I cannot fully explain everything that I felt emotionally at that time, I can say with a degree of certainty that I was at peace. As we traveled along 192 in Melbourne, FL at the posted rate of speed, we looked this way and that for the various furniture stores along that stretch. Then there she was - I'll call her 'Angry Nissan SUV Woman'. She was clearly upset that we had been traveling in the left-hand lane at the posted speed. She was one of those drivers deluded by the notion that all roads should be treated as interstate highways. I still see her ilk blasting down stretches of US-1 at seventy miles per hour. So we had come to a crossroads, or rather, a traffic light, one which the woman driving the SUV behind us had clearly wished to barrel through. She, through the lens of my tiny rear-view mirror was very distraught. I lifted the sunglasses I was wearing from my face and peered into the rear-view mirror again -- the lady promptly grimaced, making every wrinkle on her face markedly pronounced and threw her thumb and forefinger against her forehead in the shape of an 'L' for loser. I was astonished, and at that moment I felt the fullness of grief and rawness of nerve that had been filling those days immediately after the death of my mother. I wondered if the lady in the SUV behind us understood this. I often wonder how she might have reacted if I had quietly gotten out of our vehicle and explained to her that my mother had just passed away the day prior and that my mother had taught me to treat others with kindness even if they would not show kindness in return. The reality? As soon as the light turned, I sped forward allowing the angry woman to speed into the right-hand lane and overtake us.

I can only guess that the woman may yet be as underwater in her SUV and her home as she was in her morality on that day. The saddest part of this commentary; the lady had affixed a Christian 'fish' medallion onto the rear bumper of the sparkling new Nissan SUV she was so aggressively driving on that Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Democracy Now! Select Broadcasts to be Embedded on DisorderlyMuse

The following in quotations is From the Democracy Now! website Democracy Now! dot org The War and Peace Report:

"A national, daily, independent, award-winning news program, Democracy Now! airs on over 375 stations in North America. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on Pacifica, community, and National Public Radio stations, public access cable television stations, satellite television (on Free Speech TV, channel 9415 of the DISH Network), shortwave radio and the internet.

The program is hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez and produced out of the Downtown Community Television Center, a community media center in New York City's Chinatown.

The War and Peace Report provides access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S. corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts. In addition, the War and Peace Report hosts real debates -- debates between people who substantially disagree, such as between the White House or the Pentagon spokespeople on the one hand, and grassroots activists on the other."

The Embedded Video Episodes From Democracy Now! will be embedding selected episodes Democracy Now! broadcasts on a regular basis. The reason for this is simple -- There is precious little of this type of "in the trenches" journalism happening these days. The production value of Democracy Now! the War and Peace Report is outstanding in its excellence. It is my honest opinion that the reporting here holds true to the highest journalistic standards.

The following headlines are from Democracy Now! 's internet archive website :

In this broadcast, which originally aired Thursday, November 13, 2008:

Congolese Citizens Caught in Crossfire of Battle for Region's Lucrative Resources

A quarter of a million people have been displaced
in fighting between government forces and rebel militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where reports of rape, looting and murders of civilians continue to rise. We speak to Maurice Carney of Friends of the Congo about the varying regional and international actors fueling the conflict.[includes rush transcript]

Bush Admin Pushes Through Last-Minute Deregulation that May Be Hard to Undo

The Bush administration is quietly trying to push through a wide array of federal regulations before President Bush leaves office in January. Up to ninety proposed regulations could be finalized, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment. We speak to Matthew Madia of the watchdog group OMB Watch.

Michelle Obama's Biographer on Nation's First African American First Lady

Since the start of the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama has been more scrutinized than the spouse of any other presidential candidate. Scant attention has been paid to her personal history as the descendant of slaves, an upbringing in the South Side of Chicago, and work in community organizing. We speak to Washington Post writer Liza Mundy, author of the new unauthorized biography Michelle. [includes rush transcript–partial]

Please bear in mind that the embedded video, which is already buffering, is one hour long and of high quality. Most computers and internet connections will handle the load easily. This film can be found, along with other episodes from the archives at video archives

This video will take a while to buffer.... please be patient.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Special Video Commentary from Countdown ...


In spite of the many joyful successes of Nov. 4th and a willingness to reverse the course our nation has taken over the past eight years, there was one issue where we as Americans fell woefully short -- and there is good cause to be deeply grieved. For whatever reason, Amendment 2 passed in Florida by a 62% margin.

Nowhere, have I seen a more strikingly poignant dissection of the fundamental principles surrounding this issue than in this special commentary by Keith Olbermann on the vote in California to ban gay marriage, during his Monday night November 10, 2008 broadcast on MSNBC -- it can be seen here below.

Much more cannot be said at the moment. I will post my thoughts soon. Please post yours by commenting below.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America The Beautiful : Americans Bid Farewell to the Politics of Divide and Conquer through Fear

While Wall Street is still trying to find its legs, a battered Uncle Sam is dusting himself off to once again proudly stand upright before the world. 'We are all Americans' is once again the sentiment across the globe. But this time, it is not a sympathetic expression of solidarity over a tragic event; rather it seems to have sprung from a heartfelt desire to see America succeed at her best. For those of us that voted this November Fourth in what looks to be a record turnout, regardless of how we voted, we can savor and relish every emotion that comes from having wielded our most coveted right -- that of expressing our highest democratic ideals through a single vote. We are Americans, and everything that we do, whether we stumble and fall or rise greatly and succeed, we do so in a very big way.

And this nation, our beloved United States of America being founded just over two hundred years ago is yet again shining as a beacon of hope to all that desire the unfettered freedom and privilege that comes of a democracy such as ours. Yet, as this report from MSNBC news shows, with such hope of freedom comes the weight of gravity and a sobering realization that the world does indeed expect us to be forthright in upholding these ideals --

Ours is a courageous democracy -- a democracy that consistently looks toward its highest ideals. It is a democracy wrought with blood, much of it being spilled as we have time and again cast ourselves violently upon upon the cornerstone upon which this nation was built -- Whether here on our shores in civil strife or abroad to defeat fascism and in defense of those oppressed by dictators, for better or worse the guiding light of our endeavor has always been the pursuit of our highest American ideal of freedom and liberty. It may yet be too early to tell, but I think that we all, in no small measure yet again touched that cornerstone as we cast our votes. Whether we voted for President Elect Obama, or we voted for Sen. McCain -- we voted, and history was made as a consequence. Our still young and oftentimes fledgling democracy did something no other western representative democracy has done - elected a person of color. In doing so, we fulfilled the creed of our founding fathers' Declaration of Independence in ways that they themselves would be astonished at.

And, in doing so we have garnered the astonished admiration of the world by earnestly and without patronizing presuppositions bringing to fruition the dreams and aspirations expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King only a few short decades ago.