It’s been 30 years since gasoline took such a big bite out of the family budget.
When the gifts from Grandma are unloaded and holiday travel is over, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.
Gas averaged more than $3.50 a gallon this year, another unfortunate record. And next year isn’t likely to bring relief.
In the past, high gas prices in the United States have gone hand-in-hand with economic good times, making them less damaging to family finances. Now prices are high despite slow economic growth and weak demand.
That’s because demand for crude oil is rising globally, especially in the developing nations of Asia and Latin America. But it puts the squeeze on the U.S., where unemployment is high and many people who have jobs aren’t getting raises.
The trap has caught Michael Reed of Charlotte, N.C. He hasn’t been able to find work since he lost his computer-support job in 2009. Now high gas prices are claiming more of what he has left. He and his wife won’t exchange gifts this Christmas.
“I try to drive as little as possible so it doesn’t take such a chunk out of my wallet,” he says.
As homosexual Army soldier Bradley Manning’s treason trial continues at Fort Meade, Maryland, the support he has received from Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has been curiously ignored by the major media, now touting Paul as someone who could win the January 3 Iowa Republican Caucuses. Paul has called Manning, a crossdresser with acknowledged mental problems, a “hero” and “patriot” for stealing government secrets and providing them to WikiLeaks.
Manning, who served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, is charged with one of the most spectacular and damaging leaks of classified information in this country’s history. The death penalty has been strangely ruled out in his case, but he could still face life in prison.
Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the “irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by WikiLeaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information.”
The Ron Paul 2012 website shows a young Ron Paul in a military uniform and as someone who would pursue a “pro-America foreign policy.” It says, “As an Air Force veteran, Ron Paul believes national defense is the single most important responsibility the Constitution entrusts to the federal government.”
It says nothing about the Congressman’s support for accused Army traitor Bradley Manning.
However, speaking at a campaign rally, Paul said that while Manning may have “technically” broken the law against releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, he did so for the purpose of exposing the “horrible things” being carried out by the U.S. Government.
Referring to Manning’s detention before trial, Paul said, “Should he be locked up and imprisoned?” Manning should be seen as a “political hero” and “true patriot who reveals what’s going on,” Paul said.
The Bradley Manning Support Network published an article saying that Paul believes that Manning is a “whistleblower” and his actions “are essential to the country.”
CAIRO–Thousands of Egyptian women have taken to the streets of Cairo in a mass demonstration against the military’s brutality against women during a crackdown on protesters that shocked many in the largely conservative society.
Ringed by a protective chain of male protesters, women from different social classes and religious background gathered in Tahrir Square Tuesday and marched through the streets of Cairo. Many carried signs with images of soldiers dragging protesters by the hair and kicking and stomping on them on the ground. One image was particularly shocking, showing a veiled woman who had been partially stripped by soldiers who dragged and beat her on the ground.
“They say they are here to protect us, but they are stripping us naked,” the chants echoed through the streets of Cairo.
Social-media-savvy protesters have widely circulated some of the most brutal images of the crackdown.
Those images drew the ire of the United Nations rights chief and unusually harsh words from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Addressing students at Georgetown University on Monday, Mrs. Clinton said the events in Egypt in recent days were shocking, and she accused the Egyptian security forces and extremists of specifically targeting women.
“And now, women are being attacked, stripped, and beaten in the streets,” she said. “This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people.”
Over the past few days, the military has dealt with the protesters much more roughly than at any other time since Mr. Mubarak stepped down. The crackdown may reflect the military’s fury over the activists’ distribution of videos showing soldiers bludgeoning women and other protesters. The weak showing of the pro-democracy movement in the parliamentary elections that began last month may have also emboldened the military.
The politics of personal distraction. This is mostly what the opponents of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are using to try and trash him personally to the voters. The facts are that when he was in office he was able to carry out most of his promises and the Contract With America in spite of Democrat and media opposition. After he left office the GOP lost their way and became Democrats lite in too many policy areas.
If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich’s “baggage” concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.
But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama’s broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election:
“We are going to change the United States of America.”
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against this background, how much does Gingrich’s personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics’ claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.
Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock — and he publicly admitted it — the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.
Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.
“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X