Better Days Ahead

He’s not from a town called Hope but he inspires hope.  He inspired millions of Americans to participate in democracy for the first time.  He inspired millions to stand in long lines for hours to cast a vote, even in states like Massachusetts that were never in play.  Young and old, of all backgrounds united for a better future.  Si, Se Puede, y Qui, Nous Pouvons and we did!  President-elect Barack Obama!!  Finally, Better Days Ahead, a musical idea by The Pat Metheny Group I’d like to promote to replace the tired expression, Country First, which is a far better song than slogan.  Tap on the links and sample both!

What a brilliant campaign!  Competitive in all states, forcing McCain to spend money in his home state and in other previously reliable Red States just to stay viable.  McCain’s largest margins of victory came in the following states:   Oklahoma – 65.6%; Wyoming – 65.2%; Utah – 62.9%; Idaho and Alaska – 61.5%; Alabama – 60.4%; Arkansas – 58.8%; Louisiana – 58.6%; Kentucky – 57.5% and Nebraska – 57.3%.  Arizona did not break the top 10.

I hope the anti-Obama voter gives him a fair shake to show he is the President of all the people, not just residents of the United Blue States of America.  I am confident that his policies and leadership will bring about positive change here and abroad.  I am convinced better days are ahead.  Now is the time for all to get behind our President-elect.  Divided we fail and fall.

Candidates’ Views on Nuclear Power

McCain and Obama support nuclear energy as part of an overall strategy to reduce US dependence on foreign oil.  McCain hopes to greatly expand the use of nuclear power, by building 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030.  By contrast, Obama is more cautious about the role of nuclear.  In a post on TreeHugger.com, Obama is reported to have said that “before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage and proliferation. ”

Neither candidate has mentioned the enormous costs involved in building a new power plant or refurbishing an old one.  Well, one did, but he’s no longer in the race, John Edwards who rejects nuclear as not being economically viable.  “We haven’t built a nuclear power plant in this country in decades.  There’s a reason for that.  The reason is that it is extremely costly.  It takes an enormous amount of time to get one planned, developed and built.”

According to an article in the NY Times, Nuclear Endorsements Differ in Detail, the cost of building just one plant is estimated at 6-8 billion.  The construction time could take 4-6 years conservatively.  Utility companies would have to receive some sweeteners (not Aspartame) from the government to take on a new nuclear project.

Is nuclear the answer?  I don’t know.  I am not as concerned with the safety issues as I am the cost factors.  We do need to build more plants, there’s no question.  The US currently has 104 nuclear plants operating in 31 states.  Every state should have at least one.  45 new ones?  No.

Currently only about 7% of the energy consumption in the US is met by renewable sources, and mostly from hydroelectric and biomass.  Therefore, we do need to invest billions in new technology like wind and solar.  Wind could produce up to 20% of electricity in the US by 2030, for example.  It’s clean.  The only problem is getting a wind turbine built and installed might take as long as it would take to build a nuclear power plant.  The US does not have an established manufacturing base to supply parts for a large scale wind project.  Current orders for turbines are delayed.  See a recent article in the Boston Globe Projects in the Wind.

What is the answer?  All of the above, but more importantly “my friends” we need to take drastic steps to lighten our own carbon footprints to become less dependent on fossil fuels.  As Americans, we are 5% of the population and consume 26% of the world’s energy.  That’s embarrassing and frankly unjust given that worldwide 2 billion live without electricity. We need a new mantra, (sorry Sarah) –  instead of “Drill Baby Drill” how about “Walk Baby Walk” or “Bike, Baby Bike” or “Bus Baby Bus” provided those buses are CNG fueled.  If you must drive, buy a hybrid, or a fuel efficient vehicle – buy a Honda Fit.  Don’t travel so much if you can avoid it.  Take day trips instead of long distance vacations, if you take any vacation at all.  Use Zipcar.  Recycle, if you don’t already.  Take short showers.  Install low flow shower heads and aerators at your home or apartment.  Mow the lawn with an electric mower, or solar mower (I like the sound of that) but I’m not sure they exist.  Turn off the lights.  Turn your computers off students – yes it matters.  Be good to the environment.  This is how we can all put Country First!

RNC Day 2 Observations

Country First.  Service.  What were those signs about; what do they mean?  Republicans are committing to service?  Peace Corps?  Teach for America?  City Year?  Great!  Country First.  What is that – an advertisement for a Bank?  Or are the Republicans suggesting that Democrats don’t put country first?  Country First? Republican policies actually put big business first – the sign should read Business First.

Did you hear the chants USA, USA, USA, USA? – I felt a little embarrassed like I did when we won 83 gold medals during the boycotted LA Olympic Games in 1984.   By the way, was there an applause sign?  It seemed almost like the cheers were piped in, a second or two delayed.  Like when Laura Bush was speaking, she would pause for a second, and then the crowd would roar, slightly off cue.

Is Robert “Boo Radley” Duvall, really a Republican? The video he narrated I thought had some powerful images, but was a little disappointing, like an amateur PowerPoint. I expected more.

Did you see the teenage mayor of Muskogee?  A town of 40,000, 32,000 more than VP Palin’s town.  What is the age requirement for VP?  If Palin, drops out for whatever reason, the Republicans should seriously consider this kid.   Or even Laura Bush – now that’s an idea – no joking – she would have made an excellent VP.  Speaking of Ms. Bush, did you notice when she mentioned Gov. Palin, the crowd gave a less than enthusiastic ovation, but when she mentioned having the first woman VP on the ticket, the crowd roared.  Interesting.

On keeping America safe – the Republicans may claim to be keeping American people safe, but are we any safer now than before?  Were New Orleans residents safe during and after Katrina?  Are we safe from predatory lending, gun violence, rising fuel, food and utility costs? Are our pension plans safe?  Do all Americans have access to affordable health care?

I didn’t see much diversity in the crowd at the RNC on day 2.  Maybe CNN is taking the Spike Lee challenge to compare faces in the crowds at the two conventions.  The Republican delegation may be more diverse than it appeared on TV, but you have to admit that the Democratic delegation and crowd at the DNC reflected the diversity that is America.