July 7th, 2004

The Price of Freedom?

Back at the beginning of the year, the non-Fundamentalist -- but conservative Catholic, which is almost as bad -- Republican who heads our homeowner's association's Board of Directors asked me whether I thought the Democrats really had a chance to defeat Bush.

"Depends on the price of gas," I said.

"Well who do you think controls that?," he responded. The comment hung in the air for an uncomfortably long period of time before we were interrupted by another member of the Board. Watching Fahrenheit 9/11 reminded me of the exchange. Now, reading through recent entries on the daily Kos, I came across a disturbing bit of research that suggests that both my intuition and my neighbor's confidence may have been right:

I have to admit that seeing lower gas prices in California last week had me worried, even while it was saving us about $25.

If it is, in fact, the case that the price of gas might swing the election, progressives face a real quandry. We certainly can't root for the militants in Iraq or Saudi Arabia, however justified the anger motivating their actions may be. And no one wants an upswing in terrorism, fictitious or real.

Perhaps we should be paying closer attention to the situation in Nigeria. Supporting striking workers is something we're good at, after all.

By the same token, the anti-terrorism people should be paying closer attention to the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Al Qaeda is far less likely to strike a major event on a major day than to, say, target Mexican oil production when no one is expecting them to do so. The country's president does have "Fox" in his name after all. . .

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There are many advantages to having a last name that starts with A or B. Take, for example, all the hate mail I received for this co-authored editorial calling for Ward Connerly's resignation from the University of California's Board of Regents -- which also appeared in California's major dailies -- just because I came first. I cherished every postcard labeling me a ringleader of "the Berkeley 14."

Incidentally, I got to tell Mr. Connerly that I was one of the signatories during the select-a-chancellor process. He was notably polite. I have to say that, of the Regents I dealt with, he was more palatable than most, even if he seemed to be in denial of the fact that he was "of color."

I suppose I should give a shout-out to then-UCSD graduate student Vicki Mayer, who made several systemwide meetings tolerable for me with her wit, but whose name, unfortunately, starts with M.

And now let's chant: "UC democracy; we see plutocracy!"
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