Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Republican Economy

Today's economic news....

"Economy Gains Less Than Expected" - The United States GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.9% last quarter, though economists had forecast a growth of 2.3%, due to the $140 billion in economic stimulus checks that were handed out by the Bush Administration. Now the checks are gone.

"Dollar Falls on Weak Economic Report" - Due to the worse than expected GDP growth, and an unexpectedly big rise in unemployment claims, the United States dollar dropped in value against the world's major currencies.

"Jobless Claims Surge to 5 Year High" - The number of claims for unexmployment rose to their highest levels since April, 2003.

"Stocks Mostly Decline" - After the troubling news on the economy and jobs, Wall Street took another hit.

"Foreclosure Rate Hits Historic High" - More than a quarter of a million American homes are now in foreclosure status.

"Personal Bankruptcies Rise" - The number of Americans filing personal bankruptcies rose by almost 50,000 over the same time last year.

"The Cost of Iraq War and Nation Building" - The financial cost of the War on Iraq is nearing $562,000,000,000. That's 562 BILLION DOLLARS of American education and infrastructure money.

And my favorite headline of the day...

"Exxon Posts Record $11.68 Billion Profit" - Exxon-Mobil once again broke its own record by making the largest quarterly profit in history!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Odds and Ends

I'm not a microblogging Twitter-type guy, but it's been a crazy busy week for me. So here goes.

Estelle Getty and Randy Pausch both passed this week and I'm sadder than I probably should be. The world really lost two exceptional people, but I'm grateful that my era coincided with theirs.

I'm not thrilled about some of the side effects of the high cost of gasoline...rising food costs, "fuel surcharges" on everything, and the fear of financial ruin that has just about everyone spooked. But, honestly, I'm ok with $4 gas, or even $5 gas. We finally hit the point, where Americans are making real lifestyle changes. Automakers can't make hybrids fast enough, and they can't give away SUVs. Bicycle and scooter sales are through the roof, while Hummer drivers have, almost overnight, become pariahs on the road. Everyone seems to be planning their trips more to make the most of a tank, and I really am noticing significantly fewer cars on the road. And, in some ways the gas crisis has the potential of possibly slowing things down and bringing us a little closer to each other. As a totally anecdotal example, Tony, me, and our friends have been taking long group walks on the beach and the boardwalk and "just hanging out" as cheap entertainment...and it's been great. If the gas crisis causes us to give up some designer names and latest gadgets and take up spending real time with real friends...then I'm all for it.

I've got a crazy reality tv crush on Matt Cady of Fanny Pak on "America's Best Dance Crew." Just thought I'd share.

The gay blog-o-sphere had a near meltdown this week that rivals the Bear Sterns / Indymac implosions. It seems that Cooper of Cooper's Corridor wasn't Cooper at all. "He" was probably my favorite writer on these internets, and I have to admit to being a bit disappointed. And, for even more disappointing gay blogger news, Scott-O-Rama is closing his doors, and it looks like Frankie is scaling back.

This summer should've been my 20 year high school reunion, which I wouldn't even think of attending. But, in October, Tony and I will be heading to Pittsburgh, for a 20 year reunion of our gay youth group, Growing Alternative Youth. I cannot wait to see the "old" gang again.

Finally, this pic of Betty on the ferry to Fire Island, snapped by the adoring paparrazzi. After all these years, she's still feeh-irce and I fucking love huh.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Old Skool Wham!

The economy is collapsing. The planet is dying. We're mired in two wars, with another on the way. And, Elizabeth Dole is fighting to have an AIDS relief bill named after Jesse Helms.

Sometimes, you just have to sit back and watch a pre-mainstream success Wham! video and let the worries of the world melt away.

Wham! - Bad Boys - 1982

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Drill Here. Drill Now. Destroy Everything!

The price of oil hit another record today. And it probably will break that record tomorrow. And it’s shattering what was left of our economy after the mortgage meltdown and the credit crisis and the nearly $533,000,000,000 that it’s taken, so far, to invade Iraq. And we all knew it was coming.

We had decades from the energy crisis of the 1970s to invest in, and develop, alternative sources of energy. Wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and wave power. I learned about the energy crisis in elementary school, and my school books assured me that the future would be cleaner and healthier with lots of new technologies. Apparently, the leadership of this nation didn’t go to Roosevelt Elementary.

We had 40 years to prepare, and instead we drove SUVs and built McMansions. We sprawled from the suburbs into the exurbs and let our public transportation systems crumble into uselessness. We voted for warmongers and oil barons and made fun of tree-huggers. And we watched as Exxon-Mobil consistently broke its own record for largest annual profits in history. And now, we’re fucked.

And, still, conservatives are ignoring the obvious solutions while fighting to drill more, drill here and drill now. My friend Stimpy received an e-mail forward that’s been making its way around the internets, and of course, he forwarded it to me (with a warning that I should take blood pressure medication before reading any further). It’s too long, and too ridiculous to re-post here, but the gist was that the current energy crisis is Al Gore’s fault because he opposes allowing oil companies to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It also mentions that bears and caribou really like oil pipelines and would actually prefer the relaxing hum that oil drilling provides. Here’s a photo included in the e-mail as evidence.

I really think if they had Photoshopped a few unicorns into the photo as they were adding the caribou, it would have had a lot more impact – but that’s just my opinion.

I know people are now really feeling the consequences of 40 years of inaction. Trust me, I’m not currently big on filling my tank, or grocery shopping or paying the “fuel surcharge” that’s been added to everything over the past couple of months. But, drilling and drilling and drilling is not going to change one fucking thing, except to allow Exxon-Mobil to continue to break their profit records every year until there isn’t a drop of oil, or a spot of wilderness left on the planet.

To a lot of Americans, who are in personal financial panic mode, drilling in the ANWR, or off the coast of Florida, sounds like a quick fix to current gas prices. What hasn’t been conveyed to the public is that even if we started drilling tomorrow, current gas prices would not be affected at all.

Let’s look at a couple of facts….According to the United States Energy Information Administration’s own May 2008 report, we wouldn’t even be able to extract any oil from the ANWR area until 2018. And, in the year 2025, ANWR drilling might reduce the cost of gas by 75 cents. That’s 75 cents in 2025.

In the meantime, other nations are investing in their infrastructures, building efficient mass transit systems and moving away from fossil fuels – while the United States, lost to its addiction, falls further and further behind. Soon, the oil consumption of China and India will far surpass the United States. At which point, it won’t matter how much oil we produce from drilling our federally-protected lands, because, it will all be going to China and India. Will our government require the big oil companies to only sell their black gold to America? Um, yeah. I would guess not. The world’s great superpower will be reduced to competing with the third world for energy, and we’ll lose. It’s already happening.

And suppose, just suppose, that we do get oil rigs up and pumping in the ANWR and off the coast of Florida. Of course, there will, at some point, be massive oil spills. We don’t have far to go to imagine what the coast of Alaska would look like – we’ve seen that several times before. But, picture, just for a moment, Miami Beach after an offshore oil spill. Or Ft. Lauderdale. How about the Tampa Bay area? Or maybe the conservatives hope that any spills in the Gulf would just float north and do New Orleans in once and for all?

And, know that the people standing in the shadows behind the Drill Here, Drill Now crowd are the oil company executives. Ah, those fine Americans, living the American dream of building profitable companies through the natural economic laws of supply and demand. Well, except that their record profits are not based on supply and demand. They’re based on corporate welfare and tax subsidies. And, if we hadn’t been subsidizing the entire oil industry, for the past 40 years, sustainable energy technologies would have been able to compete and win against fossil fuels, thereby ending our dependence on OPEC. But, of course, oil executives continue to argue that they need our tax subsidy dollars, as well as our dollars at the pump. And they’ve got their conservative pundits and bloggers out there arguing their case for them. I mean, without corporate welfare and access to every last piece of plunder-able wilderness, how could they ever put food on their families’ tables?

Yes. Drill Here! Drill Now! Destroy Everything! And don’t listen to those moonbat tree-huggers….the oil in Iraq will more than pay for the war.