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A Plea For "CONSERVative" Thought

This morning, I was listening to KQED's Forum and hearing a republican presidential candidate by the name of Alan Keyes talk about why he was a good guy for the job. I don't agree with him on most of the issues, but he is extremely articulate and seems to be highly knowledgeable about constitutional law. Many of the people calling up resorted to derisive epithets, while Keyes managed his usual logical cold composure. In addition, callers and e-mailers volunteered no direct rebuttals to Alan's points. Too much passion, not enough logic; not a good way to counterpoint someone like Alan Keyes. Score one for Alan. I won't be voting for him, (and neither will the Republican party as far as I can ascertain), but he's far more tolerable than the shrub; he's not a bumbling oaf. More importantly, he brings a degree of sophistication and tact to the table that the next Republican I shall discuss lacks almost entirely.

Tonight, I'm reading through some comments on Flickr of one of my contacts and I click through to a blog link for Bike Satan. I started reading his blog a little, and then I came to THIS article. Ugh. It proves to me once again that most republicans aren't conservative AT ALL in the "conserve" sense of the word. They're radical and ultra-non-conservative. Their argument on the energy bill is that riding a bicycle instead of driving a car was a naive way to reduce our need for oil; What's naive about it? Is it naive to think that American's are unwilling to sacrifice their ridiculous amount of personal car fuel consumption for any reason? Maybe it's naive because the neo-con agenda of dumbing down and underfunding education has created dumber and more apathetic children, children who will grow up to be undereducated adults who are incapable of recognizing self-defeating legislation when they see it? Naive in thinking that Americans aren't willing to sacrifice a damn thing for the good of their own country and the planet on which they reside? Are the Republicans being divisive? You bet. Check. After all, divide & conquer is one of the oldest tricks in the book and old tricks are one of the few things that politicians do well. .

If you look at Patrick McHenry's stance on Gas Prices & Energy Policy , you'll see that he thinks we should drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Ok, Strike 2. Then when you read through his site, you see that he makes NO mention of reducing usage by JUST USING LESS. No, he pursues mining the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, replacing oil with *sigh* "Clean Coal" or Nuclear Power plants. There's a telling formula here (though Congressman McHenry is hardly alone, so don't think I'm picking on him alone): each of the solutions that he's proposing benefit a small group of very rich people: mainly those who are heavily tied to the oil/coal industry or companies like Haliburton (who would likely get another no-bid contract awarded to them if the U.S approved building a Nuclear Power Plant). Here's a tip little sycophant; over 40% of all trips taken in the U.S are under 2 miles. If you encouraged your constituency to do what you so superciliously mock (Ride a Bike), then you could reduce the number of car trips, traffic congestion, childhood and adult obesity and insurance costs for your district by a significant amount… then perhaps you would actually be LEADING instead of DIVIDING! I think it's telling that this guy has been a lackey of the George W. Bush campaign juggernaut, well known to be old school puppets for the Oil Industry (both in the U.S and in the Middle East), The Industrial Military Complex (think Haliburton et al.) , and allegedly, even the Nazis.

Do you KNOW how little 1 million dollars is when it comes to the federal budget? These idiots are desperate if they're clutching at this kind of small peanuts as reason's not to participate in legislation that is supposed to help people become less dependent on foreign oil, and oil altogether. Why the nitpicking? Because most of them are in the pocket of Big Oil. How much money HAS Congressman McHenry received from Big Oil? Anyone? Bueller?
The fact of the matter is, Congress gives HUNDREDS of times more in tax-payer "subsidies" to the oil companies to pay for "oil exploration", at the same time they're turning in RECORD profits. So OUR TAX DOLLARS ARE LINING THE POCKETS OF THE ALREADY UBER RICH OIL COMPANIES; DOES THAT MAKE YOU MAD? IT MAKES ME FUCKING FURIOUS! AUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!! *head explodes briefly*

Riding a bicycle instead of driving your car is honestly one of the most "CONSERVative" things you can do. The only thing better is to move close to your work and recreation so you don't have to drive at all, but with Bay Area housing costs, this is impossible for a lot of people. There are other things you can do to reduce your dependence on foreign oil: buying local produce, using a locally owned grocery store, walking, riding a bike, using public transportation, carpooling, car-sharing… you know, things we USED to do all the time in this country before we "realized" that everything had to center around the INSTANT gratification of our ability to be able to drive and go anywhere at any time. The seemingly simple act of driving your car or SUV 3 miles to the grocery store to buy a bag of groceries illustrates the fact that we are completely disconnected from what a gallon of fuel represents. The amount of energy required to move a 1500 lb vehicle (and that's about the weight of an older Honda Civic) in order to obtain a 15lb bag of groceries is magnitudes of order higher when compared to a bicycle. With traffic and parking issues, the time argument is often a wash on short trips, but even if the bike is slower, you are getting exercise while doing your errands, and that cuts down on your insurance costs (increased health), stress levels (assuming you don't have to ride on the HIGHWAY to get to the grocery store) and the time you need to spend at the "gym" in order to stay in shape. In fact, the bike (if considered in the total time schedule) often times ends up being faster, but don't take my word for it, ask the Dutch! As far as energy expenditure, here's a basic computation of human vs. car, though there's a lot of variables that are assumed. As they say, YMMV.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I'm often frustrated at the frenetic pace we continue to live our lives at. It's EXPECTED that everything has to get done, right now, right away. Yesterday even. We're decreasingly patient with any delay what-so-ever. Bicycling to me is a good compromise between speed and efficiency, and it's far more pleasant, interactive and healthy than driving a car. Try it and you'll see what I mean. Even when the weather isn't that nice, every time I take the bike, I never regret it. Oh, and don't even TRY to play the safety card with me: bicycling is statistically one of the safest forms of transportation known to man, and evidently, it's even safer than walking!

Anyone notice that in the "war on terror", our elected officials have not asked Americans to sacrifice anything personal (like driving everywhere) but asked us to surrender our freedom, our civil rights and our constitutional rights? In WWI and WWII, Americans were asked to ration, to conserve, to sacrifice. Now the politicians have taken our freedom via the (Patriot Act I & II), our money (who the hell do you think is paying for this war anyway?) and our future (um, what's the world outlook right now? How do we fit in? We continue to make enemies and drive away our former allies…), they've given us "tax cuts" and told us everything is better… but anyone paying any attention at all knows that we're further in debt than we've ever been, our dependence on foreign oil has never been greater and the world situation is less stable than when we started... but that "million" dollars spent on increasing the number of American citizens riding bikes instead of cars is a waste of money. What a crock of shit. I think I'll go for a bicycle ride…

CURRENT MUSIC: Black Sabbath, The Mob Rules, Voodoo


Troutbum74 said...

Great post. I wish people would see that the biggest step they could take in protecting the country is to stop consuming so much oil. It ain't rocket science....

nollij said...

Or as I like to say, it's not rocket surgery…