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This blog has gotten a few hits from people looking up information about a national truck stoppage, apparently scheduled for April 3. The stoppage is supposed to raise concerns over the rising price of diesel fuel. As a service to those readers, I’m posting this article and this article about a rally today in downtown Harrisburg on the same issue. The second one even has some video.

The hits, I think, come from my recent post about a sign on Route 30 that regularly offers chilling scenarios that would result if trucks were to stop. I’ll start posting some pictures as soon as I can take them.

The people who came up with the phrase “climate change” may have done more good than they realize. If I recall, some environmentalists complained at the time that the phrase lacked the doomsday punch of “global warming.”

But think about it. What’s scarier than change? Probably nothing. The switch to “climate change” ensures that people will fight all the harder to keep it from happening.

Of course, that’s assuming they won’t fight even harder to avoid any lifestyle changes, at least those that are’t forced on us by climate change.

The big news in online politics is the number of people who watched Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race. What gets lost in the buzz, however, is the fact that Obama was doing something politicians have been doing since the flowering of Athenian democracy thousands of years ago. He gave a speech. It’s not clear to me what makes that so strategically groundbreaking,

At any rate, it’s ironic to see people touting a political speech as something of substance. It’s nice that people were willing to tune in. But the buzz speaks more to our hunger for substance rather than its actual existence on our plate. A speech is primarily rhetoric delivered from the top down.

A speech during a political campaign is exactly that. Sure, Obama is different and striving to rise above politics as usual. But even that is a well-worn theme. It works for him because he is fresh, young and neither a Clinton nor a Bush. Plus he is an undeniably effective speechifier. So was Bill Clinton. And so have been countless other politicians whose names and deeds we have long forgotten.

One source of amazement is that people tuned in to Obama’s speech for SO LONG!!! But plenty of vapid movies last even longer, and people sit through those, too.

So I am unpersuaded that length=substance or even says much about the average American’s attention span. I have a feeling it is under-rated by media types, who likely have more trouble focusing than people in lines of work that require more patience and concentration. Like surgery or carpentry or truck-driving.

The true test for Obama will come if and when he becomes president. Great speeches helped put Bill Clinton in the White House, but they didn’t help him in 1994. Change is hard. People think they want it more than they’re actually willing to embrace it in reality, especially if it means any kind of sacrifice or even a simple trade-off. Words only go so far.

The presidential primary on the Lincoln Highway is frozen in place. Barack Obama still counts one lone supporter and Hillary Clinton has none. Except for that one Obama sign, every single yard sign touts one or another Republican candidate for the PA Legislature.

The best sign on Route 30 right now is in front of a trucking company. It states that, if trucks stop, hospitals will run out of oxygen in one week. Now that’s the kind of message that gets your attention.  This particular company regularly changes its sign to warn of the dire consequences of a truck stoppage, but this one just takes your breath away. Imagine. Life without oxygen.

The presidential campaigns and their supporters could learn a thing or two about messaging from whoever runs that company. I can’t get that sign out of my head, but I’ve almost completely forgotten about the video.

I’ll let this sign speak for itself, then I’ll speak for it:

I will assume, first off, that this isn’t a joke, even though Pennsylvania Dutch humor can be pretty dry. I took a picture of this sign a few weeks ago, and the “now hiring” portion wasn’t there. I swear. I notice things like that.

Maybe we’ll just have to rework the old saw: A recession is when the neighboring diner can’t sell any chicken pot pie. A depression is when you can’t sell any chicken pot pie.

At any rate, the sign should serve to discourage any efforts at comparing the current US downturn to anything in the past. Nothing is ever like what came before and trying to draw analogies only blinds us to what’s really going on. And that blindness prevents us from coming up with effective solutions that do more than make us feel good for trying.

Although, I suppose it can be just as rewarding to debate whose analogy is more accurate than to fix things.

The presidential yard-sign count along Route 30 in central PA is holding steady at one sign for Obama and zero signs for Clinton. I guess everyone was too busy registering voters to put up many signs over the weekend.

Or perhaps there is little interest in the Democratic presidential contest among denizens of the Lincoln Highway. Other contests (all Republican) have yielded a forest of signs.

Signs for Republican PA legislative candidate Mike Rishel had been popping up slowly. Now they are everywhere, slowly being matched by his primary opponent, Will Tallman, who appears to have a large family.

A third GOP candidate for state senate, Jim Taylor, also is gaining ground. Nonetheless, he is still running far behind his rivals, Rich Alloway and Cathy Cresswell. Taylor’s support seems centered in New Oxford, while Alloway and Cresswell appear to own the rest of Adams County toward Gettysburg.

So, next time someone offers me $2 for something soon to be worthless, I’ll cry and moan and argue for $10 instead.

That seems to me to sum up the complaints coming from Bear Stearns shareholders. I suppose it wouldn’t really matter, except that the Federal Reserve is underwriting the deal to the tune of $29 billion. So much for the free market and the concept of risk.  In today’s world, all the risk is being shafted shifted to the individual, away from corporations. Get used to it.

If only this man were the one telling me Monday is my last chance EVER to register for the 2008 Pennsylvania primary:

I’m not sure which will be worse: having to endure eight months of right-wing smears or having to endure eight months of liberals complaining about them. Especially when they use indignation to disguise a counter-punch, as in this recent sample from MoveOn:

Media watchdog group Media Matters has chronicled how FOX spent months trying to smear Obama by associating him with Reverend Wright’s words. Greenwald’s new video shows how the attacks successfully migrated to the mass media—Tim Russert repeated Sean Hannity’s smears virtually word-for-word!

Meanwhile, the big networks all but ignored Pastor John Hagee, whose endorsement John McCain was “honored” and “proud” to receive. Hagee says Katrina was God’s punishment for homosexuality, Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism, and Catholicism is the “Whore of Babylon” and “a cult.”

The message goes on to note how the smears distract voters from the “real issues.” It strikes me as exactly he kind of whining you hear from people who joined their high school debate club and now are shocked — shocked — to learn that the world doesn’t sit in rapt awe at their reasoned, rational commentary. They are equally shocked to find opponents refusing to play by the same rules : (

I did debate club once. Sure, I was too shy to talk, but I was also struck at how divorced the whole charade seemed from the real way in which political issues are debated and elections are decided. I learned a lot more reading newspaper op-eds and arguing with my right-leaning friends over lunch in the cafeteria.

Just throw the damn counter-punch.

A PA lawmaker is pushing legislation that would require people to show ID in certain cases when they buy prepaid cellphone cards or prepaid cellphones. The goal seems to be discouraging criminals and drug dealers. But I wonder if it might have another effect: fueling identity theft.

Rather than stop drug dealers from buying the wrong kind of phones, might the law encourage them instead to seek out other peoples’ identities that they can use in filling out the forms? It’s but a small step — and probably not all that difficult — if you already plan to do something illegal.

Every time the government asks for ID  it is spurring greater demand for the services of identity thieves. Just a thought, but maybe government should be more careful about thinking up new reasons for people to fill out forms.