Well, where do we go from here?
The answer, for millions of Americans, is not very far if the oil barons and commodities speculators have their way. The cheap gas culture that has driven the nation’s economy and fostered unprecedented mobility may be over for good, leaving a major wreck along its vast network of superhighways that could take a decade or two to clean up.
I’d intended to spend only one night in Toulouse, in southern France. But when I tried to buy a train ticket to Madrid on the evening of my arrival, I discovered that the following day was dedicated to a general strike. Trains, buses, and even many airlines were taking the day off. This happened to be the same day that the price of oil hit $135 per barrel.
When I wondered aloud, "Is infidelity a sin whose time has come?" my colleague retorted, "It never left!" Indeed, the string of politicians, sports figures and movie stars cheating on their wives is an endless parade of mea culpas.
"Why do men cheat?" I asked Dr. Ruth Westheimer, psychosexual therapist, as faculty and fellows gathered for the Yale commencement this year. Her voice escalated. "It’s not only men! And put an exclamation point there. I have nothing more to say."
The average price of regular gas crept up to $4 a gallon for the first time over the weekend, passing the once-unthinkable milestone just in time for the peak summer travel season.
Prices at the pump are expected to keep climbing, especially after last week’s furious surge in oil prices, which neared $140 a barrel in a record-shattering rally Friday.
As the reasons come out behind Defense secretary Robert Gates’ shakeup of the top Air Force command, the questions comes to mind: What took him so long?
A classified report to Gates found that the Air Force’s lax stewardship of our land-based and airborne nuclear arsenal is “a problem that has been identified but not effectively addressed for over a decade.”
North Korea has not been linked to a terrorist attack in more than two decades, but it is still on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Now, it may be on the verge of its coveted goal of getting removed — for reasons having little to do with terrorism.
Some Texas and South Dakota lawmakers are concerned that B-1B bombers, which have played a major role in recent U.S. air wars, aren’t ready to fly missions because of shortages of spare parts and qualified aircraft maintenance technicians.
Their concerns, including a troubling increase in the warplane’s accident rate, were raised in a letter this month to the Department of Defense.
Let’s see. A key measure of consumer confidence dropped this month to its lowest level in 16 years, “as Americans grew more concerned about their jobs and more pessimistic about business conditions.”
Meanwhile, “Oil prices have doubled in the past 12 months, surging nearly $8 a barrel in the past four days (since Tuesday) alone.” Both of these stories ran on cnnmoney.com.
What we need in this country is a new definition of toughness. As one who is very tough himself in ways that are not obvious, I am ideally positioned to describe the qualities of the new toughness that should become the model for our leaders.
As it is, when Americans think toughness they think swagger. For example, our current president long ago adopted the Texas swagger, a popular genre for would-be swaggerers, although connoisseurs detect in the presidential swagger a hint of the Eastern Prep School Stroll and the Ivy League Strut — that certain flexing of the shoulders signaling that the swaggerer’s daddy has more money than your daddy or at least belongs to a better country club.
Americans, notorious for their love of the open road, are cutting back on gasoline consumption as prices at the pump continue to break records.
During the week leading up to the Memorial Day holiday, the traditional start of vacation season, Americans pumped 5.5 percent less gasoline than a year ago as average prices hit a peak $3.84 a gallon, MasterCard Advisors said in a report.