Saturday, December 10, 2005

Kyoto and its discontents

A good CNN/Netscape article on Clinton taking the current administration to task for its Kyoto stance. What's interesting about the article is that no matter how neutral the presentation of the information, the truth itself makes the U.S. look so bad that it can't help but put our country in a negative light.

It's hard to disagree with Bill. Technological progress will not only benefit the global climate, it will also benefit the U.S. economy, both directly and indirectly. Directly because technological development spurs the creation of high-paying jobs that will go to other countries if we're left behind, and indirectly because the effects of climate change will undoubtedly have a deleterious if yet undetermined effect on our economy. Furthermore, the benefits to consumers of being more mandatorily energy-conscious are appreciable and certainly must be considered. By continuing to value short-term profits for big energy conglomerates more than the health of the world, the U.S. under this administration continues to abdicate any remants of its position as a global moral authority.

Especially interesting is the last paragraph:

While rejecting mandatory targets, the Bush administration points to $3 billion-a-year U.S. government spending on research and development of energy-saving technologies as a demonstration of U.S. efforts to combat climate change.


Hmm. $3 billion a year. That'll buy 15 days in Iraq. It also amounts to one-fifth the amount given away to big oil in subsidies in the latest energy bill, and a little more than one-seventh of the annual $20 billion cost of extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends.

Shit happens when big oil runs the government--and everyone suffers, except--you guessed it--big oil.

Friday, December 09, 2005

CA-48th

Here are the appalling final results.

I say appalling not because Steve Young lost by so much--he was a Democrat running in a heavily Republican area who was mired by allegations of not being a good family man and got no support from the state party or the DCCC. I expected him to lose handily, and the 17% margin does not surprise me. What does surprise me is that Gilchrist, the founder of the minutemen, got well above the 18% everyone expected him to get. Yes, the representative of the American Independent Party, the California affiliate of the Constitution Party, garnered over one-quarter of the total votes cast.

If this isn't enough to convince Democrats that immigration will be the next big issue in the upcoming 2008 presidential cycle, I don't know what is. I've blogged about it repeatedly, and I fear that the Democratic party is going to remain silent on immigration for fear of alienating their Latino voters. But just like on terrorism--without a coherent message, we'll get killed, even if the other party's message will in fact make the problem worse.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

CA-48: election today

Here's hoping Steve Young can pull off a miracle. See Swing State Project for all relevant details.

The only way Young has a chance is if Gilchrist draws heavier support than expected. We'll just have to see.

UPDATE: Get live election results here.

Syriana

There are many things I don't like about living in L.A., but sometimes those are outweighed by the advantages. Take this weekend as an example. I went to go see Syriana at The Grove--it was, at the time, only showing in select theaters in New York and L.A., so I got to see it before the rest of the nation.

And the film is absolutely superb. Clooney made another hit with this one in my book--it's even more compelling than Good Night and Good Luck, which is quite an accomplishment. I'm not going to give away any of the plot details--that would be spoiling a good film, and you'll have to go see it for yourself. Suffice it to say, though, that the film left me feeling both hopeful and depressed--hopeful because the message it portrays about the complexities Mid-East oil politics and its relation to terrorism will finally get a broader audience, and depressed because 1) there's not much you can really do about it to create system change; and 2) the people that really need to hear the message aren't going to go see it, or if they do, they won't really understand it. Either way, it blows the whole "export democracy to the Middle East" idea out of the water--because everyone who knows anything knows that a free and democratic oil republic, as opposed to a puppet emirate, is not in the best interests of the U.S. oil conglomerates. Just look at Venezuela. The other good sign--something that made me very happy--is that the showing was completely sold out, and the popular movies that were playing weren't sold out. People out here in this liberal bastion are paying attention. So go see it when it shows up in your neighborhood.

Despite my feelings of depression, I still do have my own weapon of jihad against the oil conglomerates--I drive it to work every day. Yep, I'm talking about my Prius. Now that I know how to drive it in such a way as to maximize the hybrid engine's fuel efficiency, I can get 60 mpg in regular highway conditions, and even higher in the right type of driving situations. I've had the car for about a month and a half now, and I have only spent $100 on gas--and I already have 1600 miles on the car.

Conservation is undoubtedly one of the best methods to stop the cycle of tragedy that we see represented in Syriana, and a key element of conservation resides in consumer choice. I chose my Prius for a reason, and I encourage everyone to make a similar choice--not just in vehicles, but in every single aspect of your life. Ask yourself what you can do to help the country reduce its dependence on Syriana-style oil politics.

A big part of that will involve campaigning for your local Democrat. There's a reason all the oil companies (except for Shell--kudos are in order) donate all their money to Republicans: they know that Democrats actually care about the stability of our country more than their record profits.