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High cost of gas


Tue, Apr 19th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

With spring comes the desire to wander about looking for migrating birds and the first wildflowers; to return to favorite places, favorite trails in woods and grasslands, along streams and the Mississippi River; and to explore new places. Whitewater State Park and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) isn't new to my husband and me, but we have never thoroughly explored it, always thinking it was too far to travel there casually.

Recently, we pulled out our maps and found a route along county roads and state highways that would bring us from our home in Preston to Whitewater in 30 miles, a shorter and more manageable distance than our previous route. Mileage matters because we want to do our part in minimizing consumption of fossil fuels. To that end, we recently spent a couple months researching cars. We needed a new car and wanted one with good mileage and reliability that fit within our budget. A Nissan Versa hatchback fit our requirements. Now we feel a little less guilty about indulging our desires to explore southeast Minnesota, although we still do our best to spend time in areas close to home.

Even when we told them that gas mileage was a high priority for us, salesmen pushed their bigger, more expensive and less efficient cars. And when they did listen to our requirements, they assumed the mileage concerns related only to the rising price of gas and not to concern about the environment, which is most important to us.

While researching cars, I acquired the habit of observing those that I saw on the road and that habit has continued. In this age of high gas prices, decreasing supplies of oil and the need to limit greenhouse gases, I am surprised to see large numbers of minivans, SUVs and oversized pickup trucks. I am surprised at all the large vehicles that speed past us on the highway while we are traveling at or slightly below the speed limit in order to minimize our consumption of gas. I was surprised, while traveling on a gravel road through the scenic Whitewater WMA, at how many big vehicles sped past us, some of them honking with irritation at our slowness.

Why are we so far behind other nations in controlling our use of fossil fuels? Other countries have superior requirements for mileage, which manufacturers are able to satisfy. They have smaller cars, which are not even available here. Why do we consume more energy, more of everything per capita than any other country? Who do we think we are?

Right-wing po .....
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With congress and the courts, what matters is balance

Tue, Apr 19th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

A year after the passage of the health-care reform law known as "the Affordable Care Act," its legal future is up in the air. Judges in five federal courts have weighed in on it, two of them declaring it unconstitutional and three supporting it. The ..... 
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Are you talking to me?

Mon, Apr 11th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

One wonders, who are the major politicians, in both parties, speaking to? Perhaps I am dense but I can usually follow a conversation that isn't on the topic of quantum physics or marine biology with at least an appropriate nod here and there. I don' ..... 
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The roots of congress' unpopularity

Mon, Apr 11th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

I suppose it's possible that Congress could enjoy even less popularity than it does at the moment, but it's difficult to imagine. Recent public opinion polls show it plumbing depths that have rarely been seen before.

Certainly that's true of ..... 
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Jottings from Japan

Mon, Apr 4th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Some of you may remember that I wrote a weekly column called "Jottings from Japan" for approximately 15 years. My first entries were hand written and sent in an aerogram. It seemed the best way to keep in touch with my Harmony friends and Grand Mead ..... 
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Congress needs to build a culture of fairness - 3/28/11

Fri, Apr 1st, 2011
Posted in Commentary

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Senate voted down a Republican attempt to repeal last year's health-care reform law. You may remember this, even though it rated only a mention on the evening news. What I'm virtually certain you don't remember is how the R ..... 
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The new new deal

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

In President Obama, conservatives face the most formidable liberal politician since FDR. In 2008, Obama won the presidency with a majority of the popular vote, something a Democrat has not done since Jimmy Carter won a squeaker in 1976. With Preside ..... 
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Why politicians overreach

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Having dodged a government shutdown for the moment, Congress is now embroiled in a burning debate over cutting the federal budget. The House has passed a bill imposing far-reaching cuts of $61 billion - dramatically slashing everything from educatio ..... 
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Don't squander a buildable foundation

Mon, Mar 14th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Just about a year ago on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) after months and months of political wrangling. It is not perfect, may not be complete and it certainly is complicated, b ..... 
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