Yesterday, I aired our clean laundry. Or at least our towels.
Today, this page that calculates the impact of running a single 100-watt light bulb for a year (for starters: it requires the mining of 714 pounds of coal). And, this interactive one that lets you estimate out what your various appliances are costing you, based on your own utility rates and estimated usage. Charles Revson (whose biography you can read here free) had a 252-foot yacht that got 1 mile to the 5-gallon fuel efficiency and ran the air conditioning so strong on his February Caribbean cruises that they slept with electric blankets. (Well, if you subtract the yacht, the Caribbean, and the a/c, the February electric blankets were a good idea.)
THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH
Slow but steady, in a deeply thoughtful way that is too slow for some and too fast for others, we are winding down the war the President never would have started in the first place and making the effort to fix the war we could have pursued so much more effectively if we had not focused on Iraq instead.
Predictably, the President’s speech Tuesday was spot on.
You can say – fairly – “Oh, sure – you thought all Clinton’s speeches were spot on, too.” Indeed I did. I would suggest there was a direct correlation between the thoughtful leadership we got from President Clinton and the prosperity we enjoyed. His war (in the religiously and ethnically diverse powder keg that was Yugoslavia) went so well that we barely remember it. Not, of course, that there weren’t mistakes (to name just two: not interceding in Rwanda; not putting even more resources into killing Bin Laden before handing off the operation to his successors, who shut it down).
So, yes, just as I believed then that we had a terrifically smart, wise, well-motivated President (personal demons aside) who was, for the most part, making the prudent decisions (e.g., don’t blow the surplus with tax cuts, shore up our national balance sheet and “Save Social Security First”) . . . so I believe now we have a terrifically smart, wise, well-motivated President (who seems wonderfully devoid of demons) facing the toughest challenges in generations.
To the extent progressives like me are hugely frustrated by the compromises . . . the wars are on a trajectory for phase down, but have not ended; the health care reform will prove to have been an amazing step in the right direction; the Wall Street reform and credit card reform and education reform and alternative-energy and Supreme Court appointments are constructive in a major way (as are, sorry, point of personal privilege, the list of things, both symbolic and concrete, the Administration has done to advance equality) – SO much has been accomplished in 19 months! . . . but to the extent progressives like me are hugely frustrated by the compromises and delays, I have just two simple things to say. But I think they are really important things:
1. You think YOU’RE frustrated? Imagine how frustrated the President and his team must be.
2. The way to get more done is NOT to give up and allow the Republicans to take back Congress.
If you really care about this stuff, as so many of us do, you have to recognize that – just as Nader’s well-intentioned idealism wound up sending our country off the rails on every issue he and his voters cared about – we now have to decide whether, once again, to play into the hands of the well-meaning Republicans (this time: John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, and the rest, who honestly believe they have a better direction for the country) . . . basically, to “punish” the Democrats, which is to say ourselves, for not being able to do overcome Senate Republican opposition to important things we wanted . . . or whether the thing to do is work like mad to effect a surprisingly good outcome nine weeks from now.
I vote for the latter. And I think that as people really begin to focus on the choice – forward or backward – they will prove the dire pre-Labor Day polls wrong.