Archive for November, 2008

The American Auto Culture And The Financial And Fossil Fuel Disaster

Friday, November 21st, 2008

       Yes, America is an automobile culture, been one since early in the 20th Century.  There was a time when it was surmised that most of the children of America were conceived in an automobile.  Americans today, cannot fathom a life without being seated behind a car’s steering wheel.  A person’s character is established by the kind of automobile that he drives; the class system exists in America and Americans are socially classified from a Ford Focus owner to the owner of a Rolls Royce!

      At one point in time, America was the automobile capital of the world.  American economy was and ‘Automobile Economy’; the auto industry drove the American steel industry and the American oil industry.  Fifty years ago, the auto industry lobby and the oil lobby convinced Americans that they should eliminate public railroad passenger transportation, urban and intercity.  Clean-air electric driven rail transportation went out of business and in Mid 20th Century the rails were dug up and the copper wire was salvaged as scrap.  America readily traded their freedom to travel on public transportation for the ‘magic beans’ of fossil fuel automobile transportation; Americans today cannot perceive a society without having their own ‘wheels’ within a few steps of their door.

     Suddenly, in the advent of the new 21st Century, the gods of hope and happiness turned on the Americans with the shock-realization that fossil fuel had destroyed their environment, the source of fossil fuel was running out, and that foreign entities controlled the remaining fossil fuel source that was necessary for their automobile culture to survive.

      Americans simply ignored entirely the impending threat of fossil fuel disaster.  They simply paid the increased in the price of fossil fuel.  When the situation worsened and America’s auto culture was totally threatened, Americans did not even realize then that their leaders were sacrificing the lives of the children to fight ‘oil wars’ (Persian Gulf War 1991 and the War in Iraq 2003) to fill the tanks of their SUV’s; America never admitted to wars for oil but instead hid the facts, saying the wars were about aggression and weapons of mass destruction.

      The rest of the world realized the American greed for oil, but sat by and said nothing because of their own desperate need for oil; let America do it.

      Since the end of World War II, the American auto industry continued building what Americans wanted, bigger cars that guzzled even more fossil fuel, and abdicated the low fuel consuming autos to Japan, where labor was cheap.  American Auto Manufacturers began importing foreign steel; it was cheaper than American steel. General Motors moved one entire plant from Flint Michigan to Mexico to take advantage of cheap non-union labor; Flint Michigan became a ghost town as documented by Michael Moore in the film, “Roger and Me”..

      Suddenly, American ‘made’ autos appeared with engines made by Japanese Auto Companies; the American Auto Industry was advertising, “Buy American”, when totally American produced autos no longer existed.

      When climate change was discovered and fossil fuel reserves ran alarmingly low, the American Auto Industry introduced the new prestigious gas guzzling SUV that every successful American should own.  The prestigious military-like, gas-guzzling Hummer became fashionable.

      Now, in the year 2008, the three American Auto Producers are facing financial disaster.  They came to congress to beg for a financial bail-out to allow them to survive; they offered as collateral retaining those few remaining auto workers’ jobs.  They came with no plans for producing autos that were not dependent on fossil fuel.  They came with no plans for autos that use less fossil fuel.  In fact they came to get a bail-out of their financial crisis without any plans for reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuel or America’s environmental crisis.

      It seems appropriate to apply to the Auto Industry, those words of President Kennedy in his inaugural address with a new twist, “The Auto Industry should ask not what their Country can do for them but what they have done to their Country!” 

The Tyranny of an American Majority Attempts to Deprive a Minority of Their Liberty

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

     Frankly, I am appalled by what some Americans are claiming to be American democracy; they are defining democracy simply as rule by the majority.  Simple ‘rule by majority’ is not what our Constitutional forefathers were thinking when they wrote the Constitution because if that were the case, America would be living in a society governed by the ‘tyranny’ of the majority, or as the John Birch Society says “mob rule”.

     Classic democracy provides protection for the minority in the form of ‘liberty’ or inalienable rights, which is why our American Constitutional forefathers insisted upon having the First Ten Amendments (the Bill of Rights) as an integral part of the Constitution before they would approve it.  Any American majority is prohibited from passing legislation that violates the Constitutional rights of a minority; the US Supreme Court would have to declare any laws violating Constitutional rights of minorities, to be unconstitutional and null and void.

     Proposition 8, in the last California election, is a case in point.  The initiative to ban gay marriage was approved by a majority of the voters, but it appears to violate the U.S. Constitutional rights of the gay minority.  It will be up to the Courts to decide.  However, California courts already decided on the issue in favor of gay marriage and Proposition 8 was intended to overturn the court’s decision. 

     Marriage is a legal contract in California; the Eleventh Amendment states clearly all citizens must be treated equally under the law.  Homophobia, like racism and anti-Semitism, are discriminatory and appear to violate the tenets of equality under the law.

     It is traumatic for me to hear people say that ‘the majority has spoken’ when it means that the majority intended to violate the rights of a minority and the Constitution.

Resolving the Bush Depression of 2008; Reflections of the Past

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

     George Will, notorious conservative commentator, noted on ABC’s, ‘This Week’, that President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal confused capitalists at the time of his election in 1933, and kept them from making lucrative deals that could have lessened the effects of the Great Depression.

     As a survivor of the Great Depression, I hasten to respond to George Will’s malicious rewriting of American History. 

     First of all, the leading capitalists of the time were jumping out of fourteenth story windows and could not have made a lucrative deal if one were presented to them.

     Secondly, FDR’s concern at the time was for the American people and feeding them and it was not about lucrative deals for capitalist; the Great Depression was about ‘Hungry American People’.  Americans were going hungry and there was plenty of unsold food in the farmers’ fields, going to waste.  The Roosevelt Administration bought ‘farm surplus’, put it in boxes, and gave it, yes gave it, to hungry Americans in a program the people came to know only as “Federal Relief Boxes”.  I was one recipient!  

      When confronted with a terrible problem of hunger in America, President Roosevelt came up with a rather simple plan, feed the people.

      Had it been President George W. Bush, President Herbert Hoover, or George Will, instead of FDR, their solution would have been to lower taxes for the wealthy to generate food for the hungry.

      Looking back, my entire family wept when news of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death reached our door; at this time, I do not recall President Herbert Hoover’s death.

     My mother taught me that “God marks each sparrow’s fall.”  I try to live by that statement; I think it is important.  Yet, I do not recall President Herbert Hoover’s death. 




Pondering; Pandering! Election Eve 11/04/08

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

 California homophobes have a compulsive interest in other people’s marriages and the consummation of those marriages.


After Obama’s inauguration, former President George W. Bush can go back to whacking weeds on his ranch in Texas and the only difference will be that now the taxpayers are not paying him a salary while he is doing it.


American racists are having a dilemma trying to determine if President Obama is half African or half Caucasian.


Sarah Palin made a big impact on the Republican Party as the Vice Presidential candidate; now Republican men are fantasizing her as a Playboy centerfold.


The 2008 Presidential Election Eve was a historic one, but one thing was missing; the sitting President was not seen on TV the whole night.  You can take a lame-duck President to water but you can’t make him swim.


President-Elect Barack Obama has caused chaos on American computers; Spell-Check spells Barack with two rs.


It was fascinating to see President-Elect Barack Obama addressing a crowd  of two hundred thousand people in Grant Park in Chicago and comparing it with President Bush’s speeches made in an auditorium with a security check at the door; but, don’t go there!


It is interesting to contemplate Vice President-Elect Joe Biden ‘biding’ his time presiding over the Senate; it sounds like stuttering.


When election results came in, there was a report of Republican Lemurs heading for ‘Lover’s Leap’, muttering, “Obama is not ready!”


Actually, Sen. John McCain was supposed to win Ohio, but there were so many Democrats voting so fast that the Diebold computerized voting machines did not have adequate time to change their votes from Obama to McCain; the National Republican Committee vowed to switch to DSL.


Why I Have Great Pride in President Barack Obama!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

       For the last 78 years, I have been a part of American History, good and evil; tonight, on the eve of President Obama’s election, I felt a yoke being lifted from my neck, my confidence in my American democratic Republic was restored, and faith and pride in my America was resuscitated.  Frankly the questionable Presidential elections in 2000 and again in 2004 brought me to conclude that democratic elections in America were never to be again; I lost faith.

     My first vote for President was cast at the age of twenty-one, for Adlai Stevenson, the greatest man never to be President in American history.  I cried when he conceded the election to Ike Eisenhower who was President for eight years and never uttered a quotable word.  However, despite the fact that I lost an election, I respected President Eisenhower.



     Today, after eight years of having my America become a military aggressor, torture prisoners-of-war, spying on our own citizens without legal warrants, and violating of our own Constitution and International law, I found most Americans, including myself totally depressed and despondent about President Bush’s American policy.  Having President Bush take dictatorial powers upon his self, a President who constantly used the word I and never we Americans, and a President who taunts the American people telling them that, “I am the decider” and not we the American, caused me to loose faith in America.


     Before Barack Obama was considered a candidate, I heard his voice telling Americans that America’s aggressive war in Iraq is wrong and the American people need to come together as one and renew the American democratic Republic of the people, by the people, and for the people, .  His words described what I wanted for America, however, I was of the opinion that America was too divided, too racist to have faith in an intelligent, well educated, and sincere American, the son of an African immigrant and a mother from Kansas; I lacked faith in the American people.  My own grandfather had owned slaves and that is how close America was to acceptance of the enslavement of Africans.


     For me to see Obama elected tonight was a moment in history that I will cherish.


     There were times in my life when I have had respect for Sen. John McCain; his concession speech this evening was something for which I will always admire him.  He believes in America and he believes in reconciliation of political opponents free of animosity; we are all Americans, and John McCain will stand with President Obama and the rest of us for the good of the democratic American Republic.



     President-elect Obama, in his victory speech, reiterated his promise that America will change and together we the American people, both Democrats and Republicans will convince the world that we are a peace loving people, a compassionate people; he also warned America’s enemies that we the American people, both Democrats and Republicans, will defeat them.  Obama told Americans that we will unite to face the future; there is diversity in America but we are all Americans.  Personally, I believe in what Barack Obama said; that is why I voted for him. For the first time in eight years, I can say that I am proud of the President of my American democratic Republic.


     You know, Obama just may be the reincarnation of Adlai Stevenson.

The Magic of Song!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

     Today I received an email from my cousin, about my age, reminding me of how we used to sing the song, ‘My Country Tis of Thee’, in elementary school.  She really liked the song because it was so inspirational.

     Actually, I never liked singing that song, when I was young, because it had a line in it that I refused to sing.  There is no way that I could sing the line, “Land where my fathers died”, because my father was still alive and well and it sounded like I wanted my father to be dead.  I felt guilty singing it.  Another thing that bothered me about the song was the ’tis’ being of ‘thee’.  I wasn’t sure what being a ’tis’ was and I didn’t even know who the ‘thee’ was?  At that age, I wasn’t quite sure that I wanted this nation that I loved to be ’tis’ of anybody, and particularly a ‘thee’ that I didn’t know.

     Also, though I always liked the inspirational tune of our national anthem, I never liked the words.  To me, it had a stupid opening line, “Oh! Say can you see?”; after that the words only get worse.  “America the Beautiful” was a song that I did like, words and all; I remember Kate Smith singing it on the radio when I was young.  No one seems to know what a radio is, these days?

    My dad used to listen to a men’s trio sing on radio when I was young, they were called John, Charles, Thomas.  They sang so well together that they sounded like only one person singing.

     Songs can really get to me; I am extremely sentimental.  A few years ago I went to a concert of the ‘Three Irish Tenors’, and I cried through the whole thing.  They sang all the old songs that my mother would sit at the piano and play while she would sing at the top of her voice.  I was about five years old then, she was going through menopause, had a late-in-life child, and was poor as a church mouse; the singing was therapy for her and I loved to listen to her sing.  I remember so many of the lyrics to those songs from listening to her sing; a favorite was ‘Maggie wandering through the fields’.

     For some reason, I have never been able to carry a tune and I fake it in public; but in the shower, or hiking in the mountains I sing and sing and sing. 

     Like a good father, I taught my kids some of the crazy songs we used to sing years ago, like ‘Bill Hogan’s Goat’! 

      Once while visiting my sister Meg, I sang ‘Bill Hogan’s Goat’ over and over.  She said, “will you stop singing that damn song, because now I can’t get it out of my mind.”  That was, of course, a mistake because even now when I go back to see her, I always start singing about Bill Hogan’s Goat.  It has become our secret joke.

    Sometimes I forget lyrics to songs and sing the same song over and over for a couple of days and finally the words and tune come back to me.  That is amazing, considering I can’t remember where I left the car keys.

     Some church hymns have sentimental value to me, some are favorites of my dad.  He liked to sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.  He sang so loud in church that I couldn’t hear anyone else, except maybe Rev. Obermeyer and my Uncle Edgar who sang as loud as Dad; they were about the only three voices I heard in church.  When I got old enough to read the words to the religious hymns, it was a big disappointment; the lyrics are dumb, sometimes violent, and don’t make a lot of sense.  I always remember that the words in one song talked about ‘girding your loins’; I thought that was dirty talk!  I know my mother would have a fit if she found out I had been girding my loins.  Mother would have screamed, “If you don’t stop doing that you will go blind.”

     One religious song I really liked that my mother played and sang, was “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad”.  Oh Boy!  Lutherans would never sing a song like that in church, of course.  But mom liked to play and sing it and I always remembered the words.  It is one of those songs I sing in the shower or hiking in the mountains.  My singing in the mountains is sometimes a problem because it embarrasses the people with me; they also complain that my singing may irritate the bears.

     My all-time favorite type of music is Dixieland Jazz; I especially like the Preservation Hall Band from New Orleans and I went to see them every time I have been to New Orleans.  In their old recordings, I especially like the sound of the voice of Sweet Emma, the Bell Gal and the trombone of Big Jim Thompson. 

     My favorite song era, I believe, was the ‘Folk Song Era’.  I liked Simon and Garfunkel, Smothers Brothers, Peter Paul and Mary, and I can’t think of the name of  woman singer (Joan Baez) that sang the protest songs.

     Once, a long time (ten years) after the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, which had special meaning for me, I was sitting in a Congregational Church service (United Church of Christ, now, and the same church denomination as Barrack Obama’s church and Rev. Wright’s) in Lemon Grove California.  It happened to be an all white church, and the choir sang the Civil Rights theme, “We Shall Overcome” for no reason at all. I couldn’t hold back the tears and I cried so profusely that I embarrassed myself and everybody else; it was about 1980 and everyone had already forgotten all about Civil Rights and Martin Luther King by that time.  The song brought back all those memories and they raced through my mind; I re-lived that whole era in a flash and it totally ‘shook me up’.  The death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were tragic losses for my American democratic Republic and for me, personally.

     The real impact of the song that day came from the fact that after ten years, some people didn’t recognize it and some didn’t remember King or Kennedy’s contributions; shamefully, perhaps my own response was because it had slipped my mind.  That is why it hit me so hard.

     Song is magic!

The Very Real Chauvinist Threat To Our Democratic Republic of America, 2008!

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

     Like most Americans that I talk to, I am looking forward to being rid of the Presidential Election campaign; enough already.  Though I have already cast my vote, today, I received another very chauvinistic and idiotic from my point of view, email, which was cause for concern on my part; the subject was ‘ABC News Bans Flag Pins’. The email ended as they all do, “Please forward this to as many as you can.”

     I am very concerned for my United States of America and decided to ‘strike back’ at those who I consider a serious threat to it.  Here is my reply:

     Have you ever heard of the menace of chauvinism?  There is much evidence of it in this election campaign and in this email you sent!  Chauvinism is a good thing, if you are Adolph Hitler or George Bush, but it really has no place in the American democratic Republic.  A chauvinist does not think; he/she only reacts from his own ideology.

     I suggest that the people responsible for this email take a good look in the mirror and realize that while this email might very well be beneficial to their cause, it is clearly detrimental to American democracy and it is one thing that is responsible for most of the world presently expressing their hatred for the arrogant chauvinist Bush regime (which polls show that 80% of the American people also disapprove).  In a democratic Republic like America, citizens should seek out leaders that abide by the U.S. Constitution and International Law approved by the United States of America rather than a leader who wears an American Flag lapel pin and violates the US Constitution and International Law.

     There is a thin line between chauvinism and terrorism; Chauvinism is one of the tenets of fascism (look it up in the dictionary).  For those who think this email that I received is a great email and flaunt their chauvinism, it causes me to question their actual support of the American democratic Republic; I consider them as more of a fascist threat to the USA than Al Queda and bin Laden are a military threat. This of course, is why I vehemently oppose President Bush and Sen. ‘Shadow’ McCain for office and support the democratic ideals of Sen. Barack Obama.  The ‘choice’ is actually between Sen. John McCain for President or the future of the American democratic Republic.