President Obama was elected on the promise of “hope and change.” As it turned out, he really didn’t mean Washington DC. It’s still status quo there, and no one should be surprised. It’s another story when you look at Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and very soon, Libya. “Change” happens quickly when people tire of being pushed around by rifle butts and starved while the big shots live high. They realize they can do something about it. That’s change, yet it’s nothing new.

So what do we worry about on this side of the pond? The price of a gallon of gasoline. Yesterday I heard the White House chief of staff say “things will stabilize and go back to normal” while other bloviators went on about the need to tap the strategic petroleum reserve.

It’s nonsense. All I thought was “that’s so 1973 of them.” Or at least a very craven maneuver to voters. I was 11 in 1973 when the Israel/Egypt war supposedly cut the oil spigot off to the U.S. Yet there were plenty of barges waiting in the harbor when I rode my Schwinn over to Oil City on the edge of town. We had shortages, rationing and lines, but the lights stayed on, the trucks delivered goods, and no emergency supplies were tapped. It was over six months later, with prices nearly doubled, and the record profits of the oil companies weren’t duplicated until 2008.

This time, Western countries, especially this one, may have to finally get serious about formulating a real energy policy that isn’t completely dependent on oil. We’ve been putting this since at least 1973. Real effort, thinking and courage are needed. That’s good.

Technology has fortunately advanced more rapidly than energy policy. Sometimes it’s brought us closer too. Last night, I attended a concert by the terrific singer/songwriter Susan Werner. Afterward, she was heading off to her grandmother’s funeral in Iowa. The woman was 101 and told her granddaughter that the most important life event she remembers is when the Iowa farm country got electrification. That took place just before World War II, not really all that long ago; it’s quite amazing when you think about it.

I’ve also been watching the BBC television series “Life on Mars” about a modern British cop who wakes up in 1973 and has to deal with no cell phones, black and white television, typewriters, taking weeks to process crime evidence (David Caruso would be SO angry) and Neanderthal attitudes towards women.

On that last front, we still have quite a ways to go. Now that the GOP has seized Congress, they’re “getting back” at their political enemies, which seem to include 51% of the U.S. population. Their apparent logic is that eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood will eventually bring a woman’s right to choose back to where they think it belongs: men. Something the majority of Americans have had since 1973– yes, 1973 – and now favor is needlessly under assault. Meanwhile, the lack of availability for contraception and proper sex education will lead to more babies born from children, not fewer. Amidst these serious issues, Mike Huckabee – who wants to be President – worries about the “bad precedent” set by 29-year-old Oscar winner and Harvard graduate Natalie Portman’s decision to have a child with her unmarried partner. Um, Mike…being hung up on that is so…1973.

We have a choice to feel depressed or downtrodden by what seem like recent setbacks, or look at it as winning because the wrong people are angry. To me, it’s a sure sign of progress when those most interested in keeping the status quo seem to be desperately reaching for straws.

“Change” doesn’t have to be defined within anyone’s narrow little prism, but we’re definitely witnessing it every day. And I can safely say it’s at a faster pace than in 1973.

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