Thursday, November 6, 2008

Barack Obama's epic win

Barack Obama's epic win ( No president since John Kennedy or Harry Truman will come into office facing graver crises....Tuesday was the night that the 1960s -- the divisive decade that defined American politics for 40 years -- finally died.... by defeating Clinton (representing baby boomers) and McCain (representing Vietnam soldiers) ...The raucous Obama victory rally in Grant Park was the capstone of Democratic strength through unity. The riotous antiwar rallies in Grant Park during the 1968 convention and the brutality of the police truncheons accentuated the cultural fault lines in the Democratic Party that contributed to 28 years of GOP control of the White House, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush....Obama carried all four of the once reliably Republican suburban collar counties surrounding Philadelphia with a victory margin of nearly 200,00 votes. In Ohio, Obama ran up a 90,000-vote majority in Franklin County (Columbus and its close-in suburbs), turning what was until recently tossup country into a solidly blue part of the Democratic base. The Washington suburbs provided Obama with his victory margin in Virginia, a state that last went Democratic in 1964.

Finally, a Thin President OVER the coming days and weeks, there will be many “I never thought I’d see the day” pieces, but none of them will be more overflowing with “I never thought I’d see the day”-ness than this one. I’m black, you see, and I haven’t gained a pound since college. I skip breakfast most days, have maybe half a sandwich for lunch, and sometimes I forget to eat dinner. Just slips my mind. Yesterday morning, I woke up to a new world. America had elected a Skinny Black Guy president....

Perfecting the Union ...For almost eight years, Americans have seen words stripped of meaning, lives sacrificed to confront nonexistent Iraqi weapons and other existences ravaged by serial incompetence on an epic scale....In that four-year span, Obama never got angry. Without breaking a sweat, he took down two of the most ruthless political machines on the planet: first the Clintons and then the Republican Party....An idea has power. John McCain had many things in this campaign, but an idea was not one of them....Obama’s idea, put simply, was that America can be better than it has been. It can reach beyond post-9/11 anger and fear to embody once more what the world still craves from the American idea: hope....

For Obama, a Towering Economic To-Do List Few presidents have entered office with an economy in such turmoil. ... The reasons are myriad: the financial system, though back from the brink, remains deeply troubled. ... Consumers who piled up credit card debt are pulling back, a major concern because their spending helped power economic growth in recent years. ... ECONOMIC STIMULUS: Obama Is Likely to Act Quickly...MORTGAGES: A Pledge to Aid Homeowners...FEDERAL REGULATION: Tighter Reins on Wall Street...AUTO INDUSTRY: In Detroit, No Cash, No Credit, No Time...HEALTH CARE: An Overhaul Will Have to Wait...TECHNOLOGY: To Shape Policy, a Cabinet Voice...ENERGY: An Agenda Faces Possible Delays...TRADE: Cooperation Fades, Protectionism Rises...

For Obama, Long-Term Ills and Short-Term Pain BARACK OBAMA’s victory in Tuesday’s presidential election was in many ways a repeat of Ronald Reagan’s win 28 years ago. His eventual success as president may depend on a willingness to do what Mr. Reagan did: be willing to combat long-term economic problems while accepting short-term pain and the risk of a prolonged slowdown that could damage his popularity. Both men were elected in a year when a recession had severely damaged the popularity of the incumbent. In each race, the incumbent party’s candidate tried to paint the challenger as a dangerous risk. Mr. Reagan was portrayed as a right-wing actor with extremist views; Mr. Obama as an inexperienced liberal who was weak on national defense and had “palled around,” as Gov. Sarah Palin put it, with a terrorist....

Uganda: Diplomats, MPs Celebrate President Obama's Victory ...Speaking at the US Embassy's 2008 Election Night event at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Mr Browning welcomed President Obama's historic victory, saying; "It's an important step in our history of Americans for an African -American, a member of the minority to be elected by the majority. It's an accomplishment and I congratulate him for his historic election as our new President of the United States."...At the US Election Night, among the invited guests who turned out to witness Obama's historic victory, were a host of MPs led by Kasilo MP, Okupa Elijah who, like other legislators endlessly praised Obama's election as mammoth success to the black race. "I am extremely happy and I don't regret spending a night here waiting to see Obama, the new president of the United State declared a president. He has indeed made us proud as Africans and we expect a lot from him as a continent," Mr Okupa said. The opposition Peoples Progress Party (PPP) President, Mr Bidandi Ssali was among hundreds who endured the aloofness of the nigh weather conditions to observe Obama's victory. "Obama will change some of the radical policies of George W Bush, double aid to Africa and oversee the donor funds to fight corruption that had dogged African countries for years." The Public Affairs Officer at American Embassy, Ms Lisa Heilbronn, welcomed Obama's election, insisting that any practical policies should emphasise doubling aid to Africa as part of the wider efforts to fight poverty, disease and hunger on the continent....

Blacks see Obama win as path to their healing Barack Obama's win Tuesday night as president of the United States has created a buzz in the black community and has some African-Americans talking about how this moment can reshape how they see themselves and what's possible for their lives....Obama made history -- and fulfilled lifelong dreams for many. And although change won't happen overnight, Metro Detroiters said they believe Obama is the key to bridging the race gap, and has already uplifted their self-image, pride and confidence in the African-American community. ...

Tanzanian Parliament salutes US president-elect The National Assembly in Dodoma yesterday unanimously passed a special resolution congratulating United States President elect, Mr Barack Obama. The Speaker Samwel Sitta told Members of Parliament who are attending the 13 meeting of the House that he will submit the resolution to the Government for forward it to the White House. Mr Obama, the Democratic Party presidential candidate defeated Republican's John McCain to become the first Afro-American president ever in the history of the super-power. The president-elect, Mr Obama, the 47-year-old son of an American mother and Kenyan father, become one of the youngest presidents-elect since independence in 1789. His win has galvanised the world with messages sent from all continents. ...

Congratulations, Barack. Now What? The good news for Barack Obama is also the bad news: He won. With victory comes the responsibility of addressing an economic mess of historic proportion. Obama is not facing the typical post-war recession: This is not a market correction, but a major transformation of our economy that will require going beyond promises to raise taxes on only those making more than $250,000 a year. Instead, the architecture of financial regulation needs to be redesigned, the government must play a larger role in structuring economic activity, labor and community need a stronger voice in the decision-making process, and with the Chinese financing our deficit, the United States will have to find a new place in the global economy. ...

Obama urged to live up to promises British newspapers on Thursday feted US president-elect Barack Obama's victory as a sign of a "transformed" America but warned that the country's first black leader had a monumental task ahead. They said the euphoria triggered by Obama's historic win would soon give way to the hard work of presidential politics, with one paper referring to British prime minister Tony Blair's fall from grace after a landslide victory in 1997. "It was impossible not to feel that the world was a slightly better place -- that civilisation had taken a significant step forward," the Daily Mail newspaper wrote. But it warned that "for a brief honeymoon period, Obama will be given the benefit of the doubt. After that, he will be judged on his actions."

The electorate's great expectations Never let it be said that Americans don't care, passionately, about the state of their government and the power of their role as citizens. This year's contest, historic on so many levels, generated once-in-a-generation levels of enthusiasm. The next question is, what will happen to all of that energy? How can it be harnessed to meet the huge challenges that await us?

Editorial: Lessons for tyrants of the world ...America may have its faults as a nation, and may be hated by all manner of people for all manner of reasons; it is even possible that its electoral system may not be faultless, after all. Nothing is? We take note that African Americans constitute only 15 per cent of the American population. Any system that makes it possible for a representative of such a minority group to offer himself to lead an entire country must be a system which all nations must aspire to emulate....We could, for instance, not fail to be amused by a remark by a Kenyan who called into the BBC yesterday that if Obama had lived in many countries in Africa, he would either have been killed after being seized from his home at dawn by faceless men, or he would have been hounded into exile at his very first attempt. At the very “best”, he would have lived the rest of his life in maximum security prisons, always wearing the tag: “enemy of the people”. This is the work of power-drunk, corrupt megalomanias who have arrived at a point in their lives when they begin to think they have a divine right to rule; African rulers who, once in power, never want to step down, and who, therefore, see every critic as a threat who must be eliminated. This is the lesson the Times draws from the victory of the 44th president of the United States. As African leaders pour congratulations into America, we pray that these lessons are not lost on them.

Michael Moore: What Will It Be Like to Have a Smart President? ...In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime....There was another important "first" last night. Never before in our history has an avowed anti-war candidate been elected president during a time of war. I hope President-elect Obama remembers that as he considers expanding the war in Afghanistan. The faith we now have will be lost if he forgets the main issue on which he beat his fellow Dems in the primaries and then a great war hero in the general election: The people of America are tired of war. Sick and tired. And their voice was loud and clear yesterday....

World Wonders If Obama Victory Will Live Up to the Hype As black French civil rights activists and their friends began celebrating US President-elect Barack Obama's election early Wednesday, Nov. 5, in a private club in Paris, one reveler sounded a sobering, and largely unappreciated, note of caution. "Obama is an American politician, and he will govern like an American president," said Cameroonian journalist Paul Heutching. "Let's not jump to unrealistic conclusions just because he looks like us."... "I am afraid that people may be pinning unreasonable hopes on Obama," said French historian Pap Ndiaye, the author of "The Black Condition: An Essay on a French Minority." "He will be working under strict political constraints. The disappointment may be very great."...

Anti-Obama communities in social networking site Within hours of Obama registering a decisive victory over Republican John McCain, about 30 communities were registered in popular social networking site 'Facebook' demanding his impeachment even before he formally assumed office, saying his policy will "destroy" America. About 2,000 people have joined communities like 'Impeach Barack Obama', 'Lets Impeach Barack Hussain Obama Now! and 'Impeach President-Elect Obama', asking people to "wake up" against his "radical Leftist agenda that will destroy America".... A group 'Impeach Barack Obama Now!', says: "Save America now, impeach Obama to save us from his radical Leftist agenda that will destroy America". Another group quipped, "There are a lot of Americans out there who do not fully understand the concept of Socialism or Communism which is why they've elected Obama as President." 'Impeach Barack Obama' with over 1,000 members asks people to "come on board" if they want to impeach Obama if he fails to fulfill his promises as it take "approximately seven seconds for a modern day President to violate oath" they took in accordance with the US constitution....

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reading the tea leaves of election results

In previous elections I've noticed an interesting thing if you look at per-county results. The main news results focus on per-state results for which state went "Red" versus "Blue" (aside: why is most of the world equating 'Red' with Communism and in the U.S. it's equated with Conservatives?). But what's more interesting is to look at the per-county results.

In previous years the split within a state was Republican=Rural, Democratic=Urban for most states. There were a few exceptions in previous years, but for the majority of states this rule seemed to work. Thus you can expect a couple things.. states with more rural than urban populations will vote Republican overall, and shifting demographics with more people moving to cities ought to represent a shift in voting population to favor Democratic candidates. Maybe. I suppose a rural Republican might still vote Republican even if they move to the big city, but that their children would no longer be rural. -- Alabams, won by McCain, with blue areas in Birmingham and Montgomery. The other blue is probably rural counties with heavy black population but I don't know enough about Alabama to tell. Telling is that some of those counties were 70-80% for Obama. - Alaska, Palin's home state, entirely red. Not a surprise. -- Arizona, McCain's home state, won by McCain. Phoenix went for McCain going against the pattern I suggested, but having visited Phoenix I found it to be a very conservative city. Tuscon is blue, and is a very different sort of city, if only because of the University presence. The other blue areas may be due to Native American leanings. -- California, unsurprisingly voted for Obama, even the conservative-leaning southern California counties voted for him. Here the rural/urban split is pretty strongly demonstrated but for a couple exceptions. The coastal counties all went for Obama, the ones north of San Francisco are famously full of liberal tree hugging hippies. Literally. -- Colorado, another surprising win for Obama. The Denver and Boulder region voted for Obama but so did many other areas, many of which showed very few votes implying they are rural counties. The Colorado Spring area is famously hardline fundamentalist Christians who are hardline Conservatives and of course those counties went for McCain. -- Connecticut, shows completely won by Obama. -- Delaware, won by Obama. It shows three counties, two for Obama, one for McCain. The Obama counties are in the North, the McCain in the South. The Northernmost part of Delaware is the most urban region. -- District of Columbia, went 93% for Obama. Woah. And I'm glad to see they can vote too. -- Florida, won by Obama. The Urban areas of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Tallahassee are blue, the rest are red. -- Georgia, won by McCain. This state shows a very clear rural/urban split. There are a heck of a lot of rural counties in Georgia, most of whom voted for McCain. Atlanta unsurprisingly was won by Obama. -- Hawaii, Obama's home state, won completely by Obama. Enough said there. -- Idaho, won by McCain. With more right wing nutjobs per square mile (stereotype) and the largely rural nature of Idaho, it is no surprise for McCain to win and for the state to be so solidly red. -- Illinois, Obama's home, and the state he represents as Senator, won by Obama. It's pretty well split between red and blue counties, with the Chicagoland region solidly blue. There is a tendency for the blue counties to be more heavily populated. -- Indiana, won by Obama. I find this surprising since Indiana is so heavily rural. Indianapolis and the Gary Indiana regions both are heavily populated urban centers that voted for Obama, as did Evansville (for it's area it's urban). Also voting for Obama is the county containing the Univ of Indiana. -- Iowa, won by Obama. There are large swaths of blue counties. This is a rural state but for this sort of showing there must be a strong Democratic party in Iowa. e.g. why are the Democratic party Caucuses in Iowa so important? -- Kansas, won by McCain. Not only is there a lot of rural population in Kansas, this state is famously Conservative. The exceptions in Kansas were Kansas City, and the counties containing the Univ of Kansas and Kansas State Univ. This follows the urban=Democratic, and Univ=Democratic pattern. Johnson County is famously Republican though possibly being converted, and while it's an Urban county (suburban) it voted Republican. -- Kentucky, won by McCain. This state has a lot of deeply rural places. There are only a few blue counties. Owensboro is a secondary urban area, across the river from Evansville Indiana. Louisville and Lexington are the two main urban areas, and they voted for Obama. The Covington area is across from Cincinatti, and voted heavily for McCain. -- Louisiana, won by McCain. The blue counties are around New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. I don't know what's in Shreveport Louisana, but there's some population there and the county voted for Obama. -- Maine, almost completely won by Obama. One county in the middle voted for McCain and I notice the more northern counties that I believe are more rural had a closer to 50-50 vote. -- Maryland, won by Obama. The corridor between Washington and Baltimore is heavily populated, and voted heavily for Obama, while the rest of the state is very rural and voted for McCain. An exception is the county containing Annapolis which voted for McCain, unsurprising as not only is McCain a veteran, but from an old Navy family. Even so the vote in that county was very close. -- Massachusetts, won entirely by Obama. Overwhelming majorities here. -- Michigan, won by Obama. Maybe this is the effect of problems in the Car Industry which have heavily hit Michigan. Or maybe this is due to it being Michael Moore's home state, or maybe not. But most of Michigan's counties voted for Obama, even the rural ones. This state did not follow the expected rural=Republican pattern. -- Minnesota, won by Obama. This state has a lot of blue colored rural counties, also breaking the expected pattern. There's still no sign of where Lake Wobegon is, and it's unknown how they voted. -- Mississippi, won by McCain. There are a lot of rural counties and primarily the ones who voted for Obama are along the river, while the ones who voted for McCain are away from the river. The county containing Jackson is urban and voted for Obama. The coastal counties, hit by the hurricanes, and more heavily populated, voted for McCain. This state did not follow the pattern very well. -- Missouri, still undecided at this writing. It is largely red counties, and this is largely a rural state. Exceptions are the counties containing Kansas City (urban), Columbia (University) and St. Louis and environs (Urban). A couple exceptions are some rural counties south-west of St. Louis. This state is following the rural/urban/university pattern very well. -- Montana, birth state of Palin, and won by McCain. This state famously is almost as outrageously right wing radical as Idaho (or so the stereotype goes). There are many rural counties that voted 70-80% McCain so the state almost completely follows the rural/urban pattern. Except there aren't real urban areas in this state. Some exceptions are the counties that contain connection to the national parks (Glacier County), to Native American reservations (Rosebud County) and I suspect Roosevelt County might have a Democratic party connection going back a ways. -- Nebraska, won by McCain. Nevada is entirely a rural state except for Lincoln and Omaha, both of which voted for Obama. This state follows the pattern. -- Nevada, won by Obama. While most of Nevada is decidedly rural (desert) there are two heavily populated areas, that went for Obama. Las Vegas and Reno. This state follows the pattern. -- New Hampshire, won completely by Obama. While it appears this state is entirely rural, it is part of the Northeast. The Northeast went almost completely for Obama. -- New Jersey, won by Obama. This state has some famous urban areas, and some largely unknown rural areas. The rural southern counties went for Obama, except for Cape May county which voted for McCain. The urban counties across from Philadelphia and New York City voted for Obama as did most of the corridor in-between. Ocean and Monmouth counties, both fairly heavily populated, voted for McCain. The Northeast corner is rural and voted for McCain. Three counties are exceptions to the populated=Democratic pattern in that Morris County, Ocean and Monmouth counties voted for McCain, but I believe each of these three to have a lot of rich people in them. Morris County for example is the home of AT&T. This state does not follow the pattern very well. -- New Mexico, won by Obama. There are a lot of rural counties in this state, some of whom voted for Obama. Unsurprisingly he won in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Taos corridor. But some other rural counties outside this corridor were won by Obama. Supposedly the Native American vote came in heavily for Obama, and New Mexico is famous for its Native American population. -- New York, won by Obama. The state partially follows the rural/urban pattern, New York City, Rochester, Buffalo, Erie and Albany voted for Obama. However many rural counties in New York also voted for Obama. Staten Island voted for McCain going against the rural/urban pattern. -- North Carolina, undecided at this writing. A lot of rural counties in this state with a few Urban areas. The Raleigh/Durham (urban) and Charlotte (urban) areas voted for Obama. Most of the rest of this state is rural and voted for McCain, some exceptions are Greensboro (is this the home of Duke, making it a University area?) and a county in western N.C. which contains Ashland, a new age wacko enclave (or so the stereotype goes). But there are a few decidedly rural counties which voted for Obama. This state did not carefully follow the rural/urban pattern. -- North Dakota, won by McCain. This is largely a rural state and it's not clear what pattern there was to Obama or McCain winning a given county. -- Ohio, won by Obama, thank goodness. This is a rural state that has some heavily urban pockets, especially in the north. The northern corridor has been badly hit economically. There is a fairly clear rural/urban split in Ohio but with a few exceptions along the eastern portion of the state. -- Oklahoma, entirely won by McCain. This is another state that is chockablock full of radical right wing nutjobs (or so the stereotype goes). Not even the urban centers were leaning to Obama. -- Oregon, won by Obama. While there is a lot of rural areas in Oregon, that went largely for McCain, they are outweighed by the area around Portland which is chockablock full of tree hugging hippies. This state follows the rural/urban pattern very well. -- Pennsylvania, won by Obama. There are a lot of rural counties who voted for McCain, and some deeply urban centers who voted for Obama. Philadelphia (Urban), Harrisburg (urban), Pittsburg (urban) and Erie (Urban) all voted for Obama as did their environs. With only a couple exceptions the state followed the rural/urban pattern very well. -- Rhode Island, won entirely by Obama. It is deep in the Northeast, a region won entirely by Obama. -- South Carolina, won by McCain. This state did not follow the rural/urban pattern very well, in that a lot of rural counties voted for Obama. None of the urban areas voted for McCain so this part of the pattern works. -- South Dakota, won by McCain. It's unclear what the pattern of red/blue is in this state as it is almost entirely rural and had a mix of results. -- Tennessee, won by McCain. Almost entirely red and an almost entirely rural state. Nashville and Memphis voted for Obama so the state almost correctly follows the rural/urban pattern. However Chattanooga and Knoxville both voted for McCain. -- Texas, home to the Bushies and home to the Oil Industry. A lot of right wing nutjob rural counties are in this state (or so the stereotype goes) and for the most part it follows the rural/urban split. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso all voted for Obama while most of the rest of the state (all rural) voted for McCain. However interestingly a swath of Texas that borders Mexico all voted for Obama. -- Utah, won by McCain. Home to the Mormon Church, a famously fundamentalistic organization. This state does not follow the rural/urban split, but that is no doubt due to the Mormon Church skewing things. -- Vermont, entirely won by Obama. Again the Northeast went totally for Obama even though it is very rural. -- Virgina, surprise win for Obama, the blue areas are in either urban or collegiate areas. Note that blue county in the south-west Virginia is Va Tech. -- Washington, won by Obama. The divide in Washington State is the Cascade mountains. West of the Cascades the counties were won by Obama, east of them the counties were won by McCain. -- West Virginia, won by McCain. This state is probably the poster child example of rural. The state is almost entirely voting for McCain except for a couple exceptions, most of which are unclear. One exception is in the north where the U of West Virginia is located, and another is in the far east portion that's pretty well disconnected from the majority of the state. W.V. has no real urban areas so it's hard to say what pattern it's following. -- Wisconson, won by Obama. Interestingly this state was won almost entirely by Obama. Most of it is rural and most of it was won by Obama, making this state one of the clear exceptions to the rural=Republican pattern. -- Wyoming, won by McCain, home state to Darth Cheney. It's an entirely rural state and voted almost completely for McCain. Exceptions are the counties which contain Laramie and the Grand Teton's National Park. Jackson Hole (Grand Tetons) is famously rich-liberal, and it may be that Laramie is home to a University. Otherwise there are a lot of gun-toting right wing nutjobs (or so the stereotype goes) and it's unsurprising they voted for McCain.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes we Did?

What a dream come true. An end to the nightmare and the accomplishment of a dream, that's been a long time in the fulfillment. But there's an interesting phrase being used in the celebration: "YES WE DID" riffing on the campaign slogan "YES WE CAN". Its as if they are celebrating having accomplished the goal, and that's all they needed to do was to get their guy into office.

Uh.. There is some seriously deep problems in this country. There are serious problems to fix in this country, serious damage to undo, etc. There is going to be powerful forces arrayed against real change, the real change that we do need.

This cannot stop with this election victory, it has to keep going.

It's a very stirring speech, full of hope, high minded ideas, and a breath of freshness after the 8 years of the Bush Administration darkness. But, it's a speech, it's over in 18 minutes, and then what. Listening to the speech I could only imagine the people in that audience, and thinking about them walking home after that speech and wondering how much of it they will carry home with them and how much their future life will change.

Or.. will the people go back to sleep lulled by the latest from celebrityitis (Paris, J.Lo, etc) or football or whatever other distractions the elite cook up to get the peoples mind off the game.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

A look at the Set America Free Coalition

Set America Free is described as a coalition of several sorts of interest groups, "Tree Huggers, Do-Gooders, Sodbusters, Cheap Hawks, and Evangelicals". They are aiming to set America free from high oil prices.

Their problem statement is:- a) No Fuel Choice: Our Cars Are Addicted To Oil, b) No Fuel Choice: Our Economy Is Controlled by OPEC, c) No Fuel Choice: Our Dollars Are Bankrolling Hostile Foreign Nations

Despite the dizzying array of choice in car models they all have one thing in common: Fossil Oil, primarily gasoline, is the fuel.

The huge choice we have, is no choice at all. My observation over decades is when someone has no choice they tend to choose only the options available. We have only fossil fuel based fuel options because those are the only choices in the automaker showrooms. Theoretically any of us could build an electric car, like I have built an electric motorcycle, but trust me on this, that is not a viable solution given the amount of time it takes for an electric car conversion.

But let's take a second look at their problem statement. Can cars be addicted? Cars are lumps of metal without emotion or any other ability to be addicted. It is the people who drive those cars who are addicted. But they are not aware of the addiction, generally, because gasoline is just the way things are. Just like the question "is a fish aware of the water it breaths" are car drivers truly aware of the level to which they're dependant on fossil oil?

Is our economy controlled by OPEC specifically? In many of the videos on this site they equate purchases of oil products with the funding of terrorism. It is Arab OPEC countries that have the majority of the oil in the world. OPEC however is not entirely Arab, as there are other countries besides the Arab countries who are OPEC members. Further I've seen it said that the U.S. purchases of oil primarily do not come from Arab countries but elsewhere.

To some extent however OPEC sets the price of oil. Maybe. And one thing is clear, that the Arab countries are rich beyond wildest imagination because of the price of oil.

Another idea which should have been on their problem page is this: If there's one hard economic truth, it's this: monopolies lead to higher prices. And, they give inordinate power to the owner of the monopoly. That may be true, or may not be true. Monopolies are part of the market and as Peter Wells said at the ASPO-USA conference the Arab countries are striving to maintain oil prices within a fruitful range. They recognize that if the price is too cheap they don't get enough income, and if the price is too expensive the customers (us) will be looking for alternatives. While it seems oil is in a monopoly position over transportation there are alternatives.

Their solution? Flex Fuel Vehicles & Plug-in Hybrids.

Oil's status as a strategic commodity - as opposed to just another commodity - derives from its virtual monopoly over transportation fuels. Yeah, sure, youbetcha. While there are alternatives it is hard to make use of them and practically speaking we have little choice other than cars driven with fossil fuel. Since we individuals do not control mega corporations that make cars, we individuals have no power other than to buy whatever the car companies make for us. So their solution is to beg and plead with lawmakers and carmakers to deign to sell something that we want rather than the crapola they push on us.

That's the stereotype I read on their site.. that we individuals are powerless and all we can do is plead for the big megacorps to do the right thing.

To a large extent that is the way things are. But there are things we can do which do not require begging and pleading the megacorporations to do something.

One of the simplest things to do is to buy a biodiesel vehicle or flex fuel vehicle, and start using biofuels. It's useful to do some research into the source of the fuel you're using because of the concern over the effect of biofuels on food prices and food supply. Some biofuels come from non-food crops, and some biofuels have a high energy-return-on-investment (EROI) so if there were to be a massive switch to biofuels those are two important factors to utilize.

A little more complex is to convert a hybrid car to plug-in hybrid. There are service centers springing up to do this conversion. It will take some investment of money.

But there are more radical-seeming actions to take which are very reasonable. First thing I have to suggest is to take your blinders off and think outside the box. That is, the box that sits on four wheels. The car is a limiting conception. It takes a lot of energy to move a car around, it takes a large infrastructure to provide cars with places to drive, cars and their roads take over huge swaths of our landscape.

Mass transit often will take you where you want to go. Unfortunately America has undermined its mass transit systems with decades of neglect beginning with the destruction of mass transit systems supposedly perpetrated by GM so they could sell more cars. But most cities do have a mass transit system and mass transit operators should, when faced with increasing ridership, take the hint and increase the service offerings.

Riding two-wheeled vehicles often is more fuel or energy efficient, and has some side benefits. Bicycles for example give you exercise, and all two wheelers give you more contact with the environment than you have shielded within the cocoon of a typical car. Further there are many choices of electric bicycles and scooters which are more prevalent than electric cars. Many motorcycles are far more fuel efficient than the typical car.

Telecommuting is a growing option for many types of jobs. Electronic communications make it possible to perform many types of work without having to travel to perform that work. Obviously some professions cannot take advantage of this.

In any case those are a few ideas.. My point is that this Set America Free coalition is presenting a limited range of options, when there are more one can consider. I wonder why this is that the options they offer still have people driving in cars.

A few years ago while stuck in clogged traffic during rush hour I had this epitome. Even if all those cars were replaced with clean electric cars, we'd still have the traffic jams. Our quality of life would still be harmed by having to sit stuck in stop and go traffic. Our quality of life would still be harmed by the huge swaths of land taken up by cars and their roads. etc.

In terms of good positive policy solutions -- I'm not impressed by this coalition.

In terms of real action -- I'm not impressed. Their site gives no indication that they're doing anything real about this problem. They've got some statements on a website and a few videos hosted on youtube. Ho hum.

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