Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Vatican issues Ten Commandments for Motorists

As reported in The Guardian UK and news outlets across the planet, on Tuesday, June 19th the Vatican issued a set of Ten Commandments for Motorists:

1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others.

I think this is great. Regardless of how you feel about the Vatican, about Catholicism, about organized religion in general, or about driving, it's hard not to see this as a Good Thing and certainly a step in the right direction. After acknowledging that yes, there does seem to be a problem with uncivil behavior on the part of motorists, these Commandments seem to be a reasonable list of actions and attitudes that, if adopted by all users of the road, would lead to much more civil behavior by users of transportation in the public realm.

My only concern is that enough people view these Commandments, and take them to heart, regardless of their religious affiliation. Does this need to turn into a petition, signed by the religious leadership of all the world's various denominations? Are there other ways that folks could take these ideas and run with them?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Vision for American Development: My guest post on

I've recently written a guest post for the SinceSlicedBread movement's website, which is located here. It starts with this opener:

The basic premise of the New Vision for American Development is that this country needs to move away from the auto-centric patterns of development that have been destroying our communities since the end World War Two. That's not to say that cars are bad per se, but that we have an imbalance of auto-centric infrastructure and we must now seek a return to equilibrium by turning our focus to other modes and patterns of development.

Read the rest here. And please let me know what you think in the comments below!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Higher Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standards: Contact Congress NOW to support them!

This week, Congress and the U.S. Senate are debating bills that would raise fuel efficiency standards to about 35mpg by 2020 (30mpg for small trucks and SUVs), then increase them by either 4% or 4mpg a year until 2030 (the details seem confused and may vary between the bills in the House and the Senate).

The important thing right now is that Americans express their demand for vehicles that get higher fuel efficiency. If you're a soccer mom who needs a station wagon to haul five kids around after practice, but needs to get at least 35 mpg in the city (and at least 45mpg on the highway) so as not to break the bank at the gas pump, you need to let your representative know so THIS WEEK!!

If you're interested in having it potentially run on 100% Biodiesel, as well as potentially being a plug-in hybrid (these things are not even close to being mutually exclusive, and would in fact complement one another quite nicely), mention this too!

This is where Congress can be made to work for you, to apply the necessary pressure to the automakers to accomplish these goals. Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and your call will be forwarded to any member of Congress. I can't stress enough how much you need to do so this week, as automakers are in D.C. using the fear factor, telling Congress that they can't significantly improve mileage rates for their vehicles. As you may recall, this is the same industry that claimed that air bags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes and other safety devices would be too expensive to make standard in all cars. Fuel economy standards in Europe, however, are already above 40mpg, and many American automakers also make models for the European market. So it would seem that there is no real obstacle to meeting the proposed fuel efficiency standards for the United States. If anything, our goals are too low!

Furthermore, it can't hurt to remind the automakers themselves of your needs, even though they have an institutional bias against highly-fuel-efficient vehicles that is deeply rooted in politics, history, ego and pride. The more they hear from potential customers who just won't buy a gas-guzzler from them, and will continue to refuse to purchase a new vehicle from them until it gets better gas mileage, the more likely they will be to change their minds on this issue -- all other factors aside.

Contact information for some of the major automakers is here:

Ford: (800)392-FORD or Ford Motor Company, Customer Relationship Center, Box 6248, Dearborn, Mich. 48126.

GM/Saturn: (800) 553-6000 or Customer Assistance Center, 100 Saturn Parkway, Mail Drop 371-999-S24, Spring Hill, Tenn. 37174.

Nissan: (800) NISSAN-1 (800-647-7261) or Nissan Consumer Affairs, Box 685003, Franklin, Tenn. 37068-5003.

Mitsubishi: (888) MITSU2006 (800-648-7820) or Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., PO Box 6014, Cypress, Calif. 90630-0014.

Toyota: (800) 331-4331 or Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 19001 South Western Ave. Dept. WC11, Torrance, Calif. 90501.

Phone calls would be a great way to start, but printed letters would be even better. My sense is that electronic inquiries (emails, etc.) are too easily ignored in such large bureaucracies as auto companies.

Please post your thoughts here, especially if you are inspired to make some calls and/or write some letters!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Response from Speaker Pelosi on The Question of Impeachment

In a previous post in February of 2007, I posted an open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S. House of Representatives, calling for the impeachment of the top members of the Bush Administration for their crimes against the citizens of the United States.

And now, in June of 2007, Speaker Pelosi has delivered a response to the letter, posted in entirety below:

June 5, 2007

Dear Garlynn:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush. I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I agree that the Bush Administration has failed to provide the tools our troops need to get the job done in Iraq and a plan to get them home safely. The war in Iraq has resulted in the loss of more than 3,300 American lives, wounded more than 16,000 of our men and women in uniform, ended or shattered countless Iraqi lives, and cost American taxpayers more than $200 billion. Searches for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the President's justification for the war, failed to find anything. A top White House official has been criminally indicted and convicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of a CIA operative in connection with the Administration's attempts to discredit critics of the war.

Congress has a responsibility to hold the Bush Administration accountable for miscalculating the risks, misunderstanding the challenges, and misrepresenting the facts and intelligence that brought us into the war. As we begin the 110th Congress it is my intention to have Congress conduct a thorough investigation of these matters. Please be assured that reinstituting checks and balances through rigorous congressional oversight will remain among my highest priorities as we begin in a new direction for our nation.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me on this issue. For more information on this and other issues, I invite you to visit my website at I hope you will continue to communicate with me on matters of concern to you.


Nancy Pelosi
Member of Congress

I can only speculate as to why it took so long to receive a response on this issue. Perhaps this is a signal that, at long last, the Democrats will soon begin to play hardball with the President and his party?

We can only hope.