Rummy Must Go -- Most of the criticism directed towards Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has focused on 1) a perceived lack of honesty with the public, the press and Congress, and 2) the poor logistical planning that went into the invasion and occupation of Iraq. These criticisms are fair enough, but for the one man who can actually fire Rumsfeld -- President Bush -- another question should also be considered: Has Rumsfeld done a good job as a Cabinet officer?
One of the top priorities of a high-ranking Cabinet officer is to keep his president informed and protect the president from being blindsided by embarrassing revelations. Clearly, Rumsfeld has failed in this respect. President Bush was left exposed and unprepared to face an embarrassing scandal, which his supposedly loyal Secretary of Defense had been keeping under wraps for several months.
Cabinet officers have been fired for less. It is surprising that Bush can have any trust remaining for Rumsfeld, who appears to have no aversion to leaving his President twisting in the wind. I can only assume that Bush is planning a Cabinet reshuffle at the beginning of the second term that he anticipates. Either that, or he assumes that a defeat in November renders the point moot in any case.
Drivers' Ed -- It seems the only energy policy the Bush administration has is to sack a few countries in the Middle East and South America, unless it drills in the Anwar, and it can't -- yet. Maybe we could invade Canada, as they have tons of oil in Alberta. But remember those blue-eyed Arabs are really tough too. So here are a few suggestions to help us conserve without Big Brother.
First, slow down. Just because the highway is posted at 70 mph, you don't have to drive 75. Remember, not so long ago, our national speed limit was 55 mph; that was because we had an energy crisis, just like now! If you slow down to 55 to 60 mph you will gain 10 to 15 percent on your mileage.
Next, air up those tires and check them every week. It will surprise you the difference this makes. Keep the engine tuned at regular intervals and change the oil, oil filter and air filter regularly. When buying a new vehicle don't make it a SUV, but if you must, ask your sales person what the final drive gear ratio is (this will get you some dumb stares). For instance, if they say it's a 3.72-1, ask them for a lower number, like a 3.42-1 or less. It really makes a difference in miles per gallon.
Don't buy black or a dark-color car or truck; it takes more gasoline to cool them with the air conditioner. White or light colors are best. Put your hands on the cars sitting out on the lot, that will tell you, which is the coolest (not cooool, but coolest). If you drive a stick shift you don't have to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 at every light, you can short shift it, like 1, 2, 4 around town or 1, 3, 5 on the highway.
And remember, you don't have to tow the boat or whatever at 75 mph (Washington state tow speed is 60 mph for any trailer), and 60 mph is a good safe speed to travel.
Think and drive -- it's your responsibility. Smart decisions make fewer collisions.
Bushing the Truth -- I am writing this letter because I think it is important that people know the truth about John Kerry's position on the Patriot Act; it seems to me that George W. Bush doesn't want to tell people the truth. In the new ad campaign that he has launched, there are obvious falsehoods. President Bush says, "while wire taps, subpoena powers and surveillance are routinely used against drug dealers and organized crime, Kerry would now repeal the Patriot Act's use of these tools against terrorists."
This is not true. In fact, John Kerry, Republican Sen. Larry Craig, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and others agree that we should preserve over 95 percent of the act and make improvements on the other 5 percent to strengthen the war on terror. Last October, the president's own campaign chairman conceded that the Patriot Act could use "refinement."
George Bush is the one playing politics with national security. By Karl Rove's own admission, the President is running a political campaign on national security. George Bush is the one who used pictures of flag-draped coffins at Ground Zero in his TV ads. He is the one who sold photos of himself on Air Force One after 9/11 as a fund-raising tool. I agree with what former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey said about the Patriot Act: "I told the President I thought his Justice Department was out of control...Are we going to save ourselves from international terrorism in order to deny the fundamental liberties we protect to ourselves? ... It doesn't make sense to me." It doesn't make sense to me either!
Good 'Ol Government -- Although I support the proposal issued by Mayor Jim West to beautify Spokane's entryways, $250,000 is far beyond what actually could be accomplished in order to convince visitors that they are not entering Newark.
Having owned and managed a Seattle-area sign shop during the '80s and given the parameters as outlined in the Spokesman-Review, I could manufacture a host of really cool luminous monument-style welcome mats, install them to City code and provide knock-out landscaping for around $50,000. The price tag also includes design, a process that usually takes all of an hour given that most commercial artists "lift" ostensibly original ideas from trade mags. Computer Aided Design [CAD] also facilitates virtually instantaneous design and specs, and much of what is required in the form of materials can be had on the cheap given that the sign industry is currently in the pits and, in some instances, can be found literally giving away certain raw materials.
Whoever suggested a price tag of $250,000 must be a former Enron executive or Pentagon cost estimator. My point is that City officials need to investigate by consulting numerous professionals before issuing any fixed proposal.
Obviously, someone is attempting to scam the taxpayer, as $250,000 would better serve local residents by applying it to the 35-year-old con known as the north-south freeway.
Nevada, Here We Come -- Your piece on '50s fallout shelters ("Sheltered Existence," The Inlander, 5/20/04) reminded me of the DOD films of above-ground nuclear testing we used to watch on TV as kids.
Of course, all today's generation has to do is go outside and look up to see the latest in U.S. weapons testing. Those long white lines in the sky, crossing back and forth like some kind of aerial Etch-a-Sketch (chemtrails) are Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers dumping hundreds of thousands of pounds of aluminum, barium and titanium dioxide into the atmosphere over Spokane as a part of ongoing operations to weaponize the weather.
Maybe with The Inlander reviews the Pentagon-friendly film, "The Day After Tomorrow," you might mention the Air Force "2025 Report," wherein its authors boast, "We can own the weather in 2025." Unfortunately it's a story you're not likely to be running any time soon unless to want to end up writing obits in Crankcase, Nev.