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Saturday, August 27, 2005


George W was hardly the first draft-age man of means who used family connections to duck going to war (even while he professed undying support for the notion of sending others to fight). During the Civil War, for example, some of the young men who would later become famously wealthy Robber Barons avoided having to put their own butts on the line simply by paying $300 apiece for substitutes to serve in their stead. J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Philip Armour, Jay Gould, and James Mellon were among those buying their way out. For many of the banker and business elites of the time, war was strictly for others. As Mellon's father explained to him in a letter, "a man may be a patriot without risking his own life or sacrificing his health. There are plenty of lives less valuable."

Now that George W is president, this elitist attitude of "let others serve" has been lifted to the level of national policy. Rhetorically, BushCheneyRumsfeld & Company wrap their Iraq misadventure in bunting and images of 9/11, bellowing that "America is at war!" But that's a carefully crafted lie.

Stop the farce

War is life and death—way too important to be left to charlatans such as those running this farce. It should not be made easy for a society to undertake one. If the larger public pays no price, if our nation's military force becomes separated from civilian involvement and responsibility, then our leaders are licensed for malicious adventurism.

Would you be willing to take a bullet for Bush's adventurism? I wouldn't, nor would I want any of my loved ones to pay such a price. When you, me, and the great majority of Americans do not deem a war worthy of our own sacrifice (and when the war is so unworthy that the president is even afraid to ask us for sacrifice), there is a moral imperative for our democratic society to admit this to those few who have been put out there to make the ultimate sacrifice. And once we admit it, there is a moral imperative to get out of the war.

It's time for America to bring our troops home from Iraq. NO MORE LIES. NO MORE LIVES. To reign in future adventurism by the White House, we have to find a way to restore a broad level of public responsibility for the desperate act of waging war by putting every family at risk of losing a loved one—especially the families of the rich and powerful. Dealing in death is the most somber decision a people can make, and it ought to be a decision that gives the entire nation pause, that gives every person reason to tremble.

To establish democratic responsibility, we need to consider a national service program, or maybe a lottery system...or, better yet, a simple, new plan that we should call the "Leaders First" rule: All the politicians who support a shooting war will automatically be drafted or have one of their closest family members drafted to be first in the line of fire.

Source: The September 2005 Jim Hightower ‘Lowdown’

Friday, August 05, 2005

Smart-Energy Driving

No president has really been serious about conservation and renewable energy, but Jimmy Carter at least made a symbolic statement in the 1970s by having some solar panels installed on the White House roof. Shortly afterward, however, Ronald Reagan, backed by the oil boys, defeated Carter, and that was the end of that —one of Ronnie's first acts in office was to order that those damned solar panels be taken down and junked. Since then, every president has made the obligatory Earth Day nod to solar, wind, and other alternatives as a means of breaking America's self-destructive oil habit, but there's been miserly commitment behind their rhetoric. Using its political and lobbying clout, King Oil has been able to maintain its hegemony over energy policy, its stranglehold on the economy, its preeminence over the environment, and its priority call on military action.

In the quarter century since Carter tried to tell us something important with his solar gesture, every president has been in deliberate denial about where America is headed if we don't get off oil. And now, we're there:

•America's oil consumption has increased 25% since 1980—we're now chug-a-lugging 20 million barrels of oil every single day (up from 16 million in 1980).

•Global consumption is above 83 million barrels daily and rising rapidly.

•U.S. gasoline prices are approaching $3 a gallon.

•To keep the crude flowing, the U.S. is deploying its military all around the world at a staggering cost in money and lives.

•The chemical refuse of our gasoline addiction is fogging the globe with greenhouse gases that are altering our planet's climate,

The world's supply of recoverable oil is fast running out. An energy policy (or the lack of one) that leaves us with no alternative but swilling more oil is suicidally stupid. But where's the leadership? Neither the White House nor the Congress, neither the Republican nor the Democratic party, has a plan for coping with what is clearly a looming disaster. They're not even discussing it.

Cut the leash

If our leaders are too corrupted, too weak, and too unimaginative to cut America (and ultimately the world) free of our tether to Big Oil, then we must do it ourselves. A good place to begin is for us to start buying cars, trucks, and other vehicles that get 500 miles per gallon.

Village Energy has the lowdown on "gas-optional" or GO Cars here.

Source: The Hightower Lowdown - subscription required

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