Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Well, I promised everyone bunnies yesterday, so here you go...

Not only did I give you bunnies, but they're driving!! (although judging by the color of the car, they may be on their way to a pride parade)

Ooooookay. Now that I've gotten that out of the way....

I got nothin'. Went over to Ryan and Jamie's for dinner last night. Jamie made some kind of tasty rice shrimp thingy with a salad. We watched some new animated Batman movie called Gotham Knight. It was pretty interesting. Afterward Ryan went to Sonic and got us ice cream. (hooray for ice cream!)

And I guess there was some kind of bizarro shooting attack at the U.S. embassy in Turkey today. Three police officers and three of the armed gunmen were left dead after the gunfight in Istanbul. Apparently the attackers just pulled up in a white car and started shooting at police near a security checkpoint for the consulate.

How very strange (and, of course, tragic). Apparently there has been no claim as to any kind of group affiliation for the attackers, and the motives behind their full frontal assault on the embassy remain unclear. Guess we'll just have to see what the investigation turns up.

And Iran is test firing some fairly long range missiles (with a range of 2,000 kilometers- long enough to hit Israel from Iran). Of course, no one's too happy about Iran increasing its missile capacity, particularly at a time when it has also been known to be experimenting with nuclear energy (they claim it's for electricity production, but we suspect weapons). On the other hand, the Iranians are probably a bit nervous, themselves. The U.S. is in the middle of working on a missile defense shield (we made agreements this week with the Czech Republic to put in a new radar base toward this end), and apparently the Israelis continue to run war exercises with their jet fighters in the area, just to show any would-be enemies that they're good and ready for a fight.

I don't think anyone really wants the Iranians to have long range missiles, but on the other hand, it's becoming easier to see how the Iranians might have arrived at a mindset where they feel beseiged and beleaguered. Obama has proposed having an ongoing political dialogue with Iran, coupled with economic sanctions for any aggressive behavior on Iran's part (while, of course, leaving the door open for military action if any U.S. holdings or that of our allies come under attack).

I think that Obama has a sound strategy for this situation. Contrary to the opinions of some, I think that it's almost always in our best interest to try to keep the lines of communication open with other countries. I don't think this constitutes cowardice or appeasement. I think it's sound foreign policy. Just because we have honest, forthright communication with another nation doesn't mean that we have to give in to unreasonable demands or that we'll lose our resolve to do the right thing if our enemies go too far.

In court, every day I talk to defense attorneys who want me to give their clients less jail time or less probation or to dismiss their cases. Just because I talk to these people and hear them out certainly doesn't mean that I'm going to give them what they want. But sometimes I gain new information or a new understanding of a situation which opens the door for compromise, and even when this doesn't happen, I come to understand the way that the other side views their own case and the tack that they're going to take with their argument in court.
Other times I'm just left with the opportunity to explain to the other side exactly why I think they're terribly, completely wrong. And that can be sort of satisfying when they're being ridiculous.
So, anyway, Iran continues to be problematic. I'm not really clear on why we're making agreements with the Czechs to build bases for this missile defense shield when Israel seems to need the whole thing a lot more at the moment.

And Congress continues to feel pressure to do something about oil prices. It seems like the response that most of these leaders are slowly rallying around is increased drilling off of America's coastlines and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to more drilling.

Personally, I think that turning to increased drilling in America's wilderness areas in order to fix our energy problems is as bad an idea as invading Iraq was back in 2002.

Last night I watched clips from 2006 on the Daily Show as Bush and McCain both described America's dependence upon oil as "an addiction" that needed to be treated (through alternative fuel sources and energy conservation). News clips from today, of course, show these same men pandering to our same oil-addicted nation with promises of an increased oil supply through increased domestic drilling. Of course, increased domestic drilling is a short term solution given how much oil is available in our domestic supply, but hey- that's the America that I know and love. Less is never an option. Let's go back to having multiple car families driving big, pointless SUVs and procrastinate on this problem until it becomes an emergency again in another couple of decades (while simultaneously pumping more and more carbon emissions into the atmosphere).

Americans are blaming the politicians and keep demanding a quick fix, but the truth is that we, as a population, have only ourselves to blame for our current dilemna. We've known for decades that our dependence on oil was eventually going to lead to problems (both in terms of supply and in terms of enviromental impact), but we've resisted ideas of conservation, failed to invest in alternative fuel technologies, and continued to squander the fuel supplies that we have. People have been shopping for cars for decades with hardly a thought towards fuel economy (I mean let's face it- the SUV/large vehicle trend of the last 15 years has been a move in exactly the wrong direction). Americans (outside of a few major metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago) basically shun public transportation and behave as though their single driver cars are the only way to get to and from work and school (of course, given the ridiculous state of public transportation in some areas, this is sometimes kind of close to the truth).

And oil prices are a global problem that isn't going to go away soon. Third world nations are adding cars to their roads at the rate of thousands of vehicles per day, and we've known about this increase and the accompanying impact, both in terms of oil supply and environmental damage, for decades. Demanding that our politicians "fix the oil problem" shows a certain amount of ignorance on the part of the American consumer, when large parts of the demand for oil are in other countries and completely outside of the control of American leaders.

It sounds to me like most credible experts say that it would take at least 4 or 5 years for us to see any result from an increase in domestic oil drilling, and even when we do finally see an increase in domestic production, the impact on the price of gas at the pumps would be likely to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 cents or less per gallon. I'm not sure that this sort of result is really worth risking damage to our coastlines and our wildlife refuges, and I'm really not sure it's a good idea to go using up what's left of American's domestic oil supply (believe it or not, times may eventually get much tougher than they are now, and it might be nice to know we have something in reserve).

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that Americans need to put less pressure on our politicians to come up with more oil and start refocusing their efforts on finding ways to conserve the oil that we already have (or finding new ways of using alternative energy).

This isn't going to be something that we can complain our way out of, ultimately, and it's going to take a nationwide effort to change our thinking, our habits, and our policies on energy consumption in order to overcome this obstacle.

That being said, I have faith that we can work our way through the energy crisis. We're Americans, after all, and we love a good challenge. But first we have to kick our addiction. And our politicians have to possess the courage to stop enabling the addicts.

Well, I didn't really write about bunnies today, but here's another picture of one, anyway. Light and peppy.... ; )


Anonymous said...

I object that in your hypo, defense attorneys are Iran and you the prosecutor is the good ol USA.

We are the translators and vision casters of the unwashed and uneducated masses. I like the hypo where you, the prosecutor, are the parents, and we the defense attorneys are the responsible friend of your crazy whacked our son. We try to explain to you why he is the way he is and what he needs, you just want to ground him, and we try and tell you what punishment meets his needs and fits the crime.

Iran ? You infidel bastard.


J.S. said...

Uh, I think my point was just that two opposing sides never lose anything by talking and negotiation(although if you want to go with a America: World Police type model, I feel ya). Your version is more interesting, though.

The League said...

Isn't it safe yet to draw an accurate comparison between Peabo's practice and Gilligan's Island, instead?