Archive - Jul 2008
Yesterday Obama said:
"There are things that you can do individually though to save energy," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said. "Making sure your tires are properly inflated, simple thing, but we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much."
Today, Limbaugh and others ridiculed the comment:
"My friends, this is laughable of course, but it’s stupid! It is stupid! How many of you remember the seventies? When we had these shortages, all through the Jimmy Carter years and we have all these tips, all these tips on how to save gasoline? Avoid jackrabbit starts, keep your tires properly inflated, there’s a list of about ten or twelve these things. I said if I follow each one of these things I’ll have to stop the car every five miles, siphon some fuel out, for all the fuel I’m going to be saving. This is ridiculous. This is a presidential candidate and he's talking about keeping your tires inflated and getting regular tune-ups and that would save as much oil as drilling would produce. And this guy is the Democrat presidential nominee. Who has filled his head with this stuff"
I accept that some might find the statement laughable because convincing everyone to diligently keep their tires properly inflated is not practical. Fair enough, but that’s not what Obama was intending to communicate anyway. I figure he was making the point that conservation and improved efficiency will inevitably be part of the energy solution, as will technology advances and development of other energy sources. As a statement of fact, Obama’s probably doesn’t hold up exactly…a careful examination indicates proper tire inflation would probably only account for 2/3 of offshore drilling (link), but I’d hardly say that’s a laughable comparison (link) and would also point out that Republican governors of both California and Florida recently (one of who is on the short list for the Republican VP spot) (link):
…appealed to those with the real power to make change — average citizens — to drive slower, keep engines tuned and tires properly inflated, to buy hybrids and lower overall consumption.
Of course, that quote hardly a complete summary of Obama’s energy policy. If you care to be informed, a thorough description of his energy policy can be found here: link
It kind of seems like Bush is trying to implement Obama's foreign policy before Obama gets a chance to do it.
He's agreed to a "time horizon" for withdrawal from Iraq (from an article in The Washington Post by Dan Eggen and Michael Abramowitz):
President Bush and Iraq's prime minister have agreed to set a "time horizon" for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq as part of a long-term security accord they are trying to negotiate by the end of the month, White House officials said yesterday.
The decision, reached during a videoconference Thursday between Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, marks the culmination of a gradual but significant shift for the president, who has adamantly fought -- and even ridiculed -- efforts by congressional Democrats to impose what he described as artificial timetables for withdrawing U.S. forces.
In recent weeks, Bush and senior officials have hinted that they would be open to "aspirational" goals for removing U.S. troops, as Maliki and other Iraqi politicians have voiced increasing discontent with the idea of an open-ended U.S. troop presence in their country.
and we're talking to the Iranians (from an article in The Wall Street Journal by Jay Solomon):
On Saturday the U.S. will hold its highest-level contacts with Iran since 1979, a marked thaw in the two countries' troubled relationship. At the same time, the U.S. is fine-tuning a package of new financial penalties against Iran that target everything from gas imports to the insurance sector.
U.S. and European officials said they will intensify efforts to impose these penalties should their diplomatic drive fail to induce Iran to freeze its nuclear program. The sanctions effort could also include measures to impede Iran's shipping operations in the Persian Gulf and its banking activities in Asia...
but it sounds like the new sanctions will be coming since Iran has preemptively said that halting enrichment is off the table.
Today a friend said:
If budgets are moral documents then Hell is going to be over-crowded with church folk.
and another replied:
also pretty much most families. Do you have a budget? Do you look to the interests of others before the interests of your own?
I have been thinking a bit about church budgets lately. It started when I heard that the U.S. set a new record for charitable giving last year despite the economic downturn (from an article by Philip Rucker in the Washington Post):
Americans donated $306 billion to charities in 2007...most of the donations, about $229 billion, came from individuals...giving from private foundations increased 7 percent and through personal bequests 4 percent, adjusted for inflation...international aid agencies, environmental groups and human service charities saw the largest increases in charitable gifts. Gifts to international groups, which were so small 20 years ago that the category was nonexistent in the survey, have grown steadily, increasing by 13 percent last year to $13 billion.
I've mentioned before that Robert Reich has argued that most charitable donations are made by the rich to institutions that serve the rich:
This year's charitable donations are expected to total more than $200 billion, a record. But a big portion of this impressive sum -- especially from the wealthy, who have the most to donate -- is going to culture palaces: to the operas, art museums, symphonies and theaters where the wealthy spend much of their leisure time. It's also being donated to the universities they attended and expect their children to attend, perhaps with the added inducement of knowing that these schools often practice a kind of affirmative action for "legacies."
It turns out that only an estimated 10% of all charitable deductions are directed at the poor.
I started thinking about churches as charitable institutions and how church-spending typically fits this pattern too. What fraction of American's "charitable giving" to church actually goes to the poor and needy? Churches have ministers to pay and facilities to maintain, so what fraction of a typical church's budget goes to benevolence? For us, it's about 7 %. I'm not saying that the other 93 % doesn't go to good things too, but much of it isn't charity as I would define it.
I'm glad Americans are setting giving records again this year, but I wonder if our priorities couldn't use some adjustment.
Lisa has had some issues lately with her Obama magnet being stolen in the grocery store parking lot and the bumper sticker she replaced it with being partially removed in the center for the arts parking lot. It makes me wonder what will happen when we put up the yard sign, but at least we haven't yet experienced this...
From The Huffington Post:
Robin Harris of Illinois can now claim having experienced 'dirty politics' first hand, literally. Harris, a Barack Obama supporter, awoke one morning to find that the campaign posters she had erected for the Presidential candidate had been vandalized, via fecal smearing. Harris says she "felt outraged that someone would do this to signs."
CBS reports that the Obama camp has been notified.
Despite the long odds, his age, size, and lack of experience, an unassuming 30-year-old man tries out for a spot playing professional football for the 1976 Philadelphia Eagles.
I liked this one so much and it was so clean (check out all of the moderates, minors, nones, and milds in the ScreenIt! review), that I watched it again as a movie night selection with Lisa and the boys. Since my boys are crazy about football, I knew they would love it...and Lisa did too. It's an enjoyable film and an inspiring story. It's not exactly deep or anything, but I thought it was excellent for what it is.
I give it 5 out of 5.