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Plain Talk – 5.11.10

Plain Talk – 5.11.10

Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 1:22 pm
By: Nicolle Crist, Guest Columnist

Life without the Internet.
I didn’t notice that my Internet service had become as much a part of my daily life as electricity and running water; when did that happen?
Fortunately, my lack of up to the second information about my family in Middle Tennessee allowed a little more time to pass before I had to write this column; concentrating on politics when all circuits are busy on the phone lines, is tough. 
There’s so much going on, where to focus? The floods? The attempted terror attack on Times Square? The oil spill? The Arizona immigration law? Let’s not forget that Financial Reform still needs to be passed. And that’s just here … what’s going on overseas? Things are confusing right now.
This week I began to wonder how many of the current event dots could be connected.  As of Monday, it appears that the man accused of the Times Square bomb attempt is a Pakistani born American citizen who received bomb making training in Pakistan.
I travel to the East Coast frequently so it’s scary stuff, combined with increased drug trafficking crime along the border in the Southwest; there’s no denying that we need some sort of immigration overhaul.
The thing is, when you look at the recent terrorism attempts just over the past two years the people look very different. If you lined up the photographs of the accused, you’d find  blond hair and blue eyed suspects right along-side dark hair and olive skin. Most Americans see this same mix of people every single day.
I work with people every day from just about every race and nationality I can think of; am I supposed to be suspicious of everyone? I can’t live my life like that, who would want to?
So what are we going to do about immigration? I don’t know but the racial component is why I was so concerned about the Arizona Immigration Law last week. Since it’s signing the state legislature passed and the governor signed a “fix” to the bill making it illegal for race to be the primary reason for being asked for immigration papers. 
Police organizations are still trying to figure out how to enforce the law but it was clearly missing the strong language about racial profiling enough for the legislature and governor to revisit it and pass the fixes.
The people of Arizona won’t be the same, though. It’s supposed to go into effect on July 28th. Terrorism, crime and secure borders are all tied together, it’s crucial that we get this right.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but I wish I were hearing more ideas that don’t involve targeting people by race; I believe it is not only wrong; it’s ineffective and dangerous.
Our most recent attempt to fight terrorism with military might has lasted almost a decade now and it hasn’t prevented attempts from all over the world. 
We’ve tried to bring stability to countries before with successes and failures in Sarajevo, Herzegovina in Eastern Europe, Yemen in Southwest Asia and Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya in the Middle East. And that list isn’t complete by any stretch of the imagination.
A lot of lives have been lost. We’ve been fighting to protect oil interests for as long as I’ve been alive and for what? Terrorist attempts and oil spills. 
It’s time for the oil companies to start paying the taxpayers back. I understand that is going to mean compromise – oil is a massive part of our economy but do we really need to use such a valuable resource on cheap polyester fabrics when there are plenty of farmers who wouldn’t mind seeing an increase in cotton demand.
Isn’t there a way to use oil only when absolutely necessary and no other alternative exists? I loathe the idea of Nuclear Power but I know it has to be considered; my concern is based on my own experience living within radius of Three Mile Island during it’s nuclear melt-down accident.
And now we have the biggest oil spill in history. If the oil leak gets as bad as the news reports say that it could, I wonder if all of those kids on the Gulf will feel the same way about Oil in 30 years that I do about nuclear power now?  They’ll only be about a decade younger than the kids who were old enough to understand 9/11.
We are in for interesting politics over the next few years.
My point is that we could be using oil a lot more responsibly while diversifying our energy supplies and investing in new technologies but it has to be done safely and with respect for the workers on the rigs and in the mines, as well as the environment and the other industries in the area. The only way to do that is with strong oversight.
Worst case estimates are that the leak could put out up to 2.5 million gallons of oil per day and enter a loop current that would carry the water out of the Gulf and up into the Atlantic.
We were drilling for oil so deep that the surface area of the slick is actually getting smaller even though the oil is still gushing because the slick is thick and deep in the water. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are bracing themselves waiting for the other shoe to drop. Combine that with the catastrophic flooding in Nashville this week and we could be looking and a severe regional economic disruption.
Terrorism, off shore drilling, oil spills, immigration, our national and state economies and our environment all collided this past week. The dots connect.
We can’t dismiss what we’ve achieved with oil in the past 150 years anymore than we can abandon cars and go back to covered wagons and horses.
But we also can’t pretend that the world hasn’t changed since the Drake Oil well in 1859. Just like the banks, oil has gotten too big to fail.
We have major investments to make in this country and we have to pay for it. Taxpayers cannot continue to pay to clean up corporate messes with barely any say in the rules. We can borrow the money we need or we increase taxes – those are the only choices.
Send me your comments by email to nicolle.crist@gmail.com.
WCP 5.11.10

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