Busy day, which means it went by fast.
I read the other day that Arizona is gaining degrees faster than the rest of the American southwest, which in turn in heating up faster than the rest of the world (Arizona averages now 2 full degrees warmer, with Utah and Colorado up at 1.5 or so, and the rest of the southwest above a degree, and then the rest of the world). It doesn't surprise me, even though we actually had a little bit of winter this year, and there was a good heavy snowfall in the high country.
After Earth Hour they were talking on the radio about how to go about doing one's part - I would love to actually ride my bike to work, if only Phoenix had a safe bike route from Phoenix to Tempe. There is really no safe way to cross the river if you're not in a car - there is a lane laughingly called a "bike lane" on 24th Street, which would take me about three miles out of my way, but nothing else. And having had a near-miss with a bicyclist crossing over the highway at Broadway (near-miss with a heart attack, as well), I don't want to be the one on two wheels in that situation. I used to ride everywhere, back in college, but Tucson is set up for bikes, while Phoenix is not. The new light rail system will not help me at all, since the routes are no where near either home nor work.
And the Phoenix buses recently raised their rates, and did away with transfers, so it's no longer even as not-too-convenient to take those as it was before (adding about three hours to my commute, anyway). I try to be green, really, I do.
McCain Forecloses Early
By GAIL COLLINS
Published: March 29, 2008
I don’t see how anybody could deny that John McCain is a straight-talker. The country is terrified of economic collapse and he’s been sounding like Mr. Potter, the banker in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” You can’t get more forthright than that.
McCain, by the way, is going to be the Republican presidential nominee. Really. While you were watching Hillary and Barack in the Campaign That Never Ends, the Republicans picked him.
How did this happen so fast? We haven’t even heard from Pennsylvania!
The Republicans, with their unfair but very, very efficient winner-take-all primaries, closed the deal while the Democrats were still trying to count the votes in Texas. (Results are due any minute!) Now, the Democrats are terrified that McCain will have months and months to raise money and ingratiate himself with the American people while their candidates are spending every cent they can get their hands on to make each other less popular. On Friday, Senator Patrick Leahy called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race because McCain was getting a “free ride” while Democrats squabble.
That felt like an overestimation. Not that McCain hasn’t scored some points on the days that he wasn’t getting Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq mixed up. Witness the speed and dexterity with which he’s been distancing himself from the White House. The only withdrawal McCain supports began when he said he was eager to have Bush campaign for him whenever “it fits into his busy schedule,” making it clear that the busyness of said schedule was going to be beyond comprehension.
Then McCain gave a foreign policy speech in which he broke dramatically with the administration by acknowledging that we should probably quit invading other countries in the face of enormous opposition from our allies.
No fair! He got to start first! Why aren’t the Republicans required to use primary rules that allocate delegates in a fair, proportional way that makes it impossible for anybody to actually win? If McCain were still running against Mitt (Available for Vice President) Romney and Fred (Available for “Law & Order” Cameo) Thompson, he would, of course, still be sounding like a divorced-from-reality loon. But once a Republican clinches his party’s nomination, he moves to the middle, stops dropping Ronald Reagan’s name every five seconds and begins describing himself as a “Roosevelt Republican,” hoping that older working-class voters will think he means Franklin.
Fortunately for the quivering Democrats, McCain has also felt compelled to speak about the mortgage crisis. His economic thinking — which is, in any form, a brand-new phenomenon — harks back to the time when Republicans all seemed to be elderly rich guys who muttered a lot about bonded indebtedness. The public’s deep lack of enthusiasm for this worldview was what encouraged Reagan to change the subject to optimism and abortion.
The theme for his mortgage speech this week was basically McCain to Homeowners: Drop Dead. It was, he said sternly, “not the duty of the government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly.” The good news, he noted, was that out of 80 million American homeowners, only 4 million are in the tank, while everybody else is “working a second job, skipping a vacation and managing their budgets” the way Countrywide Financial intended them to.
He did, however, leave the door open for some vague, amorphous, undefined aid to good homeowners, as opposed to irresponsible ones who ... did something irresponsible. Like taking that vacation.
McCain then suggested that the federal government ought to do something about getting regulations off the back of the financial markets and concluded with a call to reduce the corporate tax rate. It was not exactly a rallying cry for the masses.
Imagine what Mitt (Really, Really, Really Available) Romney would have been saying about mortgages if he had the nomination in hand and was repositioning his deeply flexible self for the general election. Can you see the “Wall Street Is Broken” banners? He’d probably have sent a son bearing a certified check to every mortgage defaulter in a swing state.
McCain also favors privatizing parts of the Social Security system, an idea so deeply unpopular with actual people that it never flew in Congress, even when the Republicans were in control and the nation had not yet deduced that the president was permanently out to lunch.
And at bottom, his economic vision makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. He’s going to keep the Bush tax cuts, continue our $3-trillion-and-counting war in Iraq and decrease corporate taxes. And how is he going to pay for it? By getting rid of pork-barrel earmarks. And I am planning to remodel my house by purchasing a tube of Elmer’s glue.
But give the man credit for telling it like he thinks it is. So far, he’s only alienated the homeowners, retirees and vacation-takers.
I found my passport. I also found a missing bag of yarn I bought at the local Jo Ann's, which is having a store closing sale (sort of annoying, since now the nearest Jo Ann's is way up in Paradise Valley, I think - at least north of the Dreamy Draw). So at least I have made some accomplishments in the last few days, even if they are minor accomplishments.
As usual, I've forgotten other things I wanted to post for posterity. Ah, well.
More of the garden: