Saturday, August 30, 2008

Evaluating Palin's Experience: Just a Quick Take

It is certainly understandable that many pundits are discounting Sarah Palin's experience, though it is a bit odd to hear supporters of Barack Obama doing so.

While it is understandable, it is also misguided. Experience is evaluated not merely by the amount of time spent doing something, but also by what someone did with the time that they had. Ms. Palin is both the first female governor and also the youngest governor in the history of her state. Those facts alone are impressive. She has an 80% approval rating as governor. And, she has gained that approval rating while taking on the corruption of the political establishment -- including the political establishment of her own party.

In light of what she has accomplished in a short period of time, it is astounding to hear some on the left, including women on the left, dismiss her as nothing more than a beauty queen. There is no doubt that she is attractive, but her brief career shows her to be a principled politician of great courage. Those who imagine they can dismiss her as anything less may very well come to regret it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Palin Pick

For most of the last year, I thought the Republicans had no chance in the presidential election. During the fracas between an inexperienced Barack Obama and and an inept Hillary Clinton, I thought the Democrats might possibly blow it.

Today, for the first time, I believe that the Republicans will win. Unless Gov. Palin has a Dan Quayle like deer in the headlights moment -- and all indications are that she is much too sharp for that -- this will prove to be an inspired choice. While some have argued that her inexperience takes Sen. Obama's thin resume out of the equation, in fact, her executive experience further amplifies his lack of credentials. On every other level, both personal and political, she is a compelling candidate.

The disarray of the Obama campaign this morning (with the candidates repudiating their campaign's press release) shows they were caught completely off guard.

For someone who we heard last night "doesn't get it," the Senator from Arizona has acquitted himself well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Quick Reaction to the Obama Speech and Its Coverage

I may or may not write more later about the acceptance speech of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama this evening, but for now a couple of thoughts come to mind:

I was a bit surprised at the harsh tone of the speech. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Regardless of how Americans perceive the policies of John McCain, many have a great deal respect for his service, and those who are prone to so respect him include many in demographics that Sen. Obama must appeal to. The harsh tone toward one he claims "doesn't get it" may backfire. Joe Biden makes the better attack dog.

Will people contrast favorably Sen. McCain's congratulatory commercial with Sen. Obama's attacks, or will they dismiss the McCain commercial as a ploy to get them to do so? It will be interesting to see.

Of course, more was promised in the speech than can ever be delivered, but that is always true in political speeches these days. The Republicans will do the same next week.

While flipping channels to hear some of the commentary, I came across MSNBC and was stunned. As regular readers know, I rarely watch television, so this may have become the norm in the last few years without my awareness, but I have never heard on national television the sycophantic level of cheerleading that was going on with that network. By traditional network standards, it was an embarrassment. Of course, many accuse Fox News of behaving this way toward the Republicans, but I have never heard anything like what was going on at MSNBC tonight. Admittedly, I am a partisan observer, but I think I do as well as most at stepping back and viewing things in a disinterested manner. That network tonight was bizarre.

Update. A.C. Kleinheider also notes the harsh tone and argues that the departure from Sen. Obama's "utopian, sentimental fluff" reveals a realism that is "bad news for John McCain." That is certainly a possibility, and, while I don't usually cover the horse race of election campaigns, I will be interested in seeing the poll numbers coming out of the close of the convention. There were other ways that he could have taken a realistic tone through this speech, and, to be kind, too many of the promises he made were little more than pie in the sky.

Partisan Republicans loved their 1992 convention, at which Pat Buchanan and Marilyn Quayle declared a culture war, but most of the rest of the country was repulsed. I think Sen. Obama took an enormous, arguably unnecessary, risk.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Longer Record, Same Tune

When Joe Biden wrecked his 1988 candidacy for the presidency by plagiarizing the words of British Labor Leader Clark Kinnock, I did not really expect him to ever emerge again as a serious candidate for national office. However, the man affectionately known since that time as Senator Xerox has spent two decades creating the appearance of seriousness regarding foreign policy expertise. Given that appearances are all that the Democrats really have to offer the country at this point in time, the man and the moment have met.

Senator Biden has always combined a smooth exterior with the mentality of a pit bull, and media efforts to portray Senator Obama as offering a different kind of campaign will almost certainly have to stop, though they may still try to blame Sen. McCain for the change in tone. Nonetheless, one might question whether the selection will really make the hoped for difference outside New Jersey, which the Democrats would win anyway. Nearby Pennsylvania will be more likely to keep its eye on the top of the ticket, not the bottom.

Choosing Evan Bayh would have brought a traditionally Republican state into play for the Democrats. Senator Biden brings a long track record of being wrong on most issues. As Senator Obama only has a short track record of being wrong, the ticket stands enhanced.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kurita Was Right

Tennessee state representative Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) continues to get grief for a vote that helped remove fellow Democrat John Wilder from the position of Lieutenant Governor. That is a shame, for Ms. Kurita was right.

The interests of party should never supersede those of the state, and Mr. Wilder was both incompetent and an embarrassment to the state. It was unconscionable that some members of both parties, for the sake of political expediency, kept him one heart beat (or tick bite, as the case might have been) from the governor's mansion for so long.

Former Nashville Scene editor Liz Garrigan -- an excellent journalist who no one would confuse as a conservative -- concluded a piece some year's ago on Mr. Wilder's continued holding of the Lieutenant Governor position by saying, "Keeping a cartoon character behind the Senate podium is a good way to get Tennessee on The Daily Show, but that’s about it." She called on Republicans and Democrats to unite to remove Mr. Wilder.

For a couple of posts from the past providing my own reporting of Mr. Wilder's ineptitude, see here and here.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Tennessee who value the public interest above the partisan one owe Sen. Kurita their gratitude.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Win for Warren

Saddleback Community Church pastor Rick Warren is mostly receiving high marks for his conduct of the interviews of Messrs. McCain and Obama this past Saturday. Given that the pastor is a mere amateur at this sort of thing, those who provide the service professionally might do well to take note of what made him successful.

Interviewing is an art performed poorly by many of its practitioners, with many of the failures resulting from a couple of causes. First, in an age when many news programs build their hopes for success on the celebrity of the personality of their hosts, too many interviewers go about their business in a manner that draws attention to their own personas, not to the person answering the questions.

Think of all the presidential debates this year in which the news organization involved in the debate preceded each question by a video segment. They just couldn't resist the urge to make the debate format about themselves, not the candidates.

Second, too many news shows, following the lead of Crossfire type programming, cast the respective interviewers as either ideological opponents or soulmates of the guest. Attempts to either empathize with a guest or box him in a corner are not conducive to an informative interview.

A good interviewer knows how to ask questions that will create an opportunity for the guest to say something newsworthy, or at least interesting, and then get out of the way while the interviewee does it.

Rev. Warren managed to do just that. The professionals should take note.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Charlie Wilson Chair

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the University of Texas at Austin is raising money to endow a chair in honor of former congressman Charlie Wilson. Mr. Wilson's character inspired the Tom Hanks movie, Charlie Wilson's War.

According to the report, the endowed chair will be held by a professor in the field of Pakistani studies. That is too bad. I would have suggested something in the women's studies department.

If I Were Rick Warren....

Of course, I am not, and the pastor of Saddleback Community Church has not asked my opinion as to what questions he should ask the respective presidential candidates. However, if I were conducting the interviews tonight of Senators McCain and Obama, with a focus on learning more about their political philosophies and characters with regard to matters of concern to Christians, I would ask the following:

  1. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that a safety net should be available for the economically disadvantaged, but disagree as to whether the public sector or private organizations should bear primary responsibility. How do you view the relative responsibilities of government and private charity? What are the dangers of an overemphasis on one or the other?
  2. President Bush has emphasized the need for faith based initiatives to address societal problems. Will you continue this emphasis? How can government subsidize faith based initiatives and exercise proper oversight of its spending without interfering with the religious perspectives animating those organizations?
  3. In the Bible, John the Baptist famously told Herod that he was wrong to have taken his brother's wife. John lost his head over it. While it is true that someone can have character flaws and still be an effective leader, no one could convincingly argue that character is irrelevant? What kind of virtues do you think are important for leaders? How would you, as a private individual and a Christian, suggest that the church should address questions of character in leaders?
  4. Both candidates have reversed previous positions on a variety of political issues. How can Americans evaluate the truthfulness of claims to have changed positions on important issues? To what extent do candidates have a duty, for the sake of credibility, to explain their rationale for major policy reversals?
  5. Members of both parties are sometimes guilty of using ethics as a political weapon, sometimes based on statements taken out of context or mischaracterizations of opponents' words or deeds. What would your administration do to help ensure that ethical concerns are taken seriously and not used -- unethically -- as a political bludgeon?
  6. What would you say is the role of religion in the public square?
  7. Republicans frequently have a distrust of big government. Democrats distrust big business. Christians, based on the doctrine of original sin, warn about the accumulation of power in any individual entity. In government, there is concern about the balance of power among the branches, as well as the erosion of individual rights. In business, there is concern about CEO accountability to Boards of Directors. How would your administration view these sorts of concerns and problems?

These questions are intended to be asked of both candidates separately, so I have attempted to avoid those that would tend to favor one candidate or another. I wish I had the chance to ask them. It would make for an interesting interview.

What We Live For

Those who say they value individual expression in whatever form it takes might pause at the example of Clarence "Wooly" Bunch. While Mr. Bunch may be flawed, no one can accuse him of lacking an overall purpose in life. He expresses it this way:

"I guess there are other people that want to be president of the United States or senators or whatever. Me, I want to be a cockfighter."

As the Louisiana legislature joins the rest of the civilized world by banning this blood sport, it is a good time to remind ourselves that the existence of a deep desire does not validate it. While it is true that good government should also be limited government, there are times when it is good and proper for the state to just say no.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Disqualified for Exercising the Right to Petition

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline writes favorably regarding speculation that former Michigan governor John Engler could get consideration as John McCain's vice-presidential candidate.

Whatever Mr. Engler's strengths, it will not happen. While Mr. Mirengoff suggests that the former governor's present position as head of the National Association of Manufacturers "might be a plus," in the current political environment being recognized as the head of a lobbying organization almost certainly and unfortunately would be considered as disqualifying.

There's a Woman to Blame

Aides to Hillary Clinton, desperate to blame anyone other than themselves or their candidate, are now suggesting that the presence of John Edwards in the race for the Democratic nomination cost the Senator from New York the nomination. They explain that Barack Obama would not have won Iowa if not for Mr. Edwards, and that the win in the Hawkeye state is what propelled him to his ultimate victory. They darkly suggest that if the media had done its job and exposed Mr. Edwards affair at an earlier time, that they would be headed toward the White House.

Who would have ever thought that those speaking for the Clintons would claim that the media was too slow in exposing a politician's sexual misdeeds?

Nonetheless, while the claim is plausible, those making it forget this: a year ago, Sen. Clinton was widely seen as the candidate with the nomination in hand. It was hers to lose, and lose it she did. Much of the vote going to any of the other candidates was, in that context, an "anybody but Hillary vote." As such, one should not assume that the absence of Mr. Edwards would have sent voters straight to Sen. Clinton.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

According to The Princeton Review, 18 of the top 20 "party schools" are state universities.

Brave New Church

"Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." -- Paul the Apostle.

""Volunteers are at every entrance making sure everyone has a badge." --Mike Buster, executive pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church.

In a Dallas Morning News article intended to be favorable toward Prestonwood, but that would be difficult to caricature, church leaders and software vendors explain how the church can use technology to provide its 27,000 members with an experience of "intimacy" while making each and every person "feel important and wanted." Somehow, "intimacy" derived from tracking "new members by archiving the cards" and from providing parents with badges helping them to pick up their children from workers that they do not know would seem to fall short of the biblical notion of a church community. Indeed, it makes one sad to consider what might for some people pass for intimacy in the modern world.

Intimacy through technology. Oooookay.

Prestonwood and other megachurches are pleased that they can leverage technology to "digitize operations just like a secular business," in order to assist in, among other things "tracking which members stop attending" or "monitoring tithing levels." If you quit tithing, you might get an encouraging letter. Once again, such practices hardly cohere either to biblical concepts of community or to Jesus' mandate to make disciples.

Of course, technology driving churches becomes necessary for those that have exchanged the concept of disciplemaking with an emphasis on putting butts in seats, and that have confused the values of the Sermon on the Mount with those of Broadway. Indeed, and this is related to the reason that churches have become comfortable with greater levels of anonymity, questions of worship style have by and large replaced concerns with the content of the worship experience. The goal of Christian "worship" now is not so much to help people be reconciled to God as it is to help them feel good about themselves. Real ministry requires knowing the congregation; putting on a great show can be completely anonymous.

Of course, there is nothing wrong, per se, with feeling good about one's self. However, the loss of true intimacy among congregations of people who should strive to actually know and relate to one another while being conformed to the image of Christ can hardly be held up as an ideal for believers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Drilling

According to an ABC News poll close to 8 in 10 Republicans and 7 of 10 independents favor lifting the ban on new offshore drilling. Even among Democrats, over half agree with the idea.

It seems that to find a crowd of people opposed to off-shore drilling, one must go to a gathering of Nancy Pelosi's House Democratic caucus.

A Journalist's Moral Decision

James R. Peipert, who in 1974 worked as an Associated Press correspondent in Moscow, writes of his participation along with other journalists that year in a successful effort to save the personal papers of the recently exiled Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

Left behind in Moscow was a mountain of Solzhenitsyn’s personal papers — manuscripts, archives, newspaper clippings, photographs, photo negatives, official documents. It was raw material for works still in progress — among them the second and third volumes of The Gulag Archipelago.

Fearing that the KGB would confiscate the papers, Solzhenitsyn’s wife put out the word to the few Western correspondents who wrote regularly on the dissident movement. For several days, the correspondents called at the apartment and — like participants in a covert bucket brigade — left with pockets and handbags stuffed with Solzhenitsyn’s archives.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

In Praise of John Edwards

Well, he deserves the approbation that he is receiving for all of the reasons that are being given, but:

He at least has had the decency not to parade his wife out as a prop as part of his pursuit of political salvation.

If Mr. Edwards' transgression and resultant calamity and confession signal an end to the practice of reducing spouses to political devices, we should be glad.

On Dads and Stepdads

News articles in papers around the country report that a study of low-income urban families appearing in the Journal of Marriage and Children finds that stepfathers make better parents than biological dads. According to this article appearing in the Dallas Morning News, "The findings contradict a popular view among social workers and family policy experts that biological fathers invest more in their own flesh and blood."

That may be, but an obvious weakness of the study jumps out at this reader. If the accounts of the study are to be believed (I have not read the actual study, which can be purchased here), the research relied heavily on self-reporting by the mothers, who would be more likely to answer questions in a way that would be favorable toward their current husbands than toward the blankety-blank ex-husband/boyfriend/sperm donor, or whatever. How the study dealt with that potential bias is not explained in the reporting.

The report in the DMN also omitted a significant finding in the study. According to this more detailed summary, there was a qualitative distinction between married stepfathers and unmarried, cohabitating stepfathers. The study found that the former made for better parents of the mother's children than the latter. As the abstract of the study states, "Additionally, difference-in-difference analyses reveal a stronger link between marriage and higher quality parenting practices among social fathers than among biological fathers."

This difference does not appear in the newspaper accounts.

There are good biological fathers and bad ones. Good step dads and bad. One suspects that on balance, in spite of this study, that the biological fathers (especially if you exclude those who were never a part of a common household with the child in the first place) would make for the more attentive dads.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Obama Overheard

Peasant: "Your Majesty, the people have no oil."
Barack Obama: "Well, then, let them inflate."


Of course, Senator Obama is hardly the first out of touch politician to respond to people's problems by offering nothing more than hot air.

No, that's compressed air, isn't it?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wrong Message, Wrong State

In what can charitably be called a political miscalculation, bought radio ads in a Texas congressional district that last time voted 64% for President Bush. The ads call for maintaining the ban on off-shore oil drilling.

When the Democrat, Michael Skelly, running for election to Congress from the district, pointed out that this was the wrong kind of help, a spokesman for MoveOn bizarrely claimed that the ad was not in behalf of the candidate, but for the constituents.


Extremism in the Pursuit of Pandemic Preparedness?

A public service television announcement produced by the Ohio Department of Health shows an empty classroom and a cemetery as a narrator warns that more residents of that state died in 20th century flu pandemics than in World War I. The narrator then ominously declares that it will happen again. Viewers are encouraged to visit the state's website (which includes a link to the ad on the right sidebar) to learn more about how to prepare for a flu pandemic.

The Newark (Ohio) Advocate, while comparing the ad to movies featuring Michael Myers, questions whether the state should have used a more "measured" approach. Indeed, while most health experts agree that a pandemic flu epidemic will occur eventually, they also understand that it is impossible to predict whether such an occurrence will take place next year, the next decade, or beyond. Given the uncertainty, these tactics not only needlessly scare the citizenry, they also inculcate the sort of skepticism that will result in a lackadaisical response should the wolf truly arrive.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Honesty and Crime Both Can Pay

Angela Bertugli, a former beauty pageant winner and legislative researcher to Pennsyslvania House Majority Leader Bill Deweese, told investigators in the "Bonusgate" probe that she only got her job because she was having an affair with Rep. Deweese's chief of staff, Michael Manzo. Mr. Manzo has been charged in the wide reaching investigation with, among other things, using public funds to create a job for Ms. Bertugli having no responsibilities.

Yet, Ms. Bertugli remains employed by Rep. Deweese. The reason, as stated by him: "It would be wrong to take retribution against those who told the truth."

Ms. Bertugli has not been charged in the case.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Just in Case You Wondered Why Work Comp Premiums Are so High....

An Oregon appeals court ruled that the employer of a man who tore his meniscus in 1976 must pay for gastric bypass surgery that the man had in 2001.

Edward Sprague tore up his knee in 1976, when he weighed 225 pounds. He re-injured it in the late '90's. In 2001, now at a weight of 350 pounds, he had gastric bypass surgery. The court ruled that because losing weight was essential to the treatment of his knee, that the employer is liable for payment.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, RIP

Russian author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn passed away over the weekend. He was 89.

Mr. Solzhenityn was one of my formative political influences. As a high school student, I read his Nobel Prize winning novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and was duly struck by the unvarnished description of a single day in a fictional, though accurately portrayed, prison camp under the Soviet Union's totalitarian regime. He had experienced such a camp while himself a political prisoner in the aftermath of World War II. As a college student, I read A World Split Apart, his commencement address delivered at Harvard University, in which he criticized both Soviet tyranny and western decadence. For his criticisms of the latter he was widely disparaged.

Later, I read Cancer Ward, a novel centering around the patients in such an institution under Soviet control. It was likely the most depressing work of fiction I have ever read. More recently, I read the first two volumes of his Gulag Archipelago, his exhaustive reconstruction of the massive and inhumane Soviet prison system. While I would never compare American practices with those of Soviet gulags, I must say that reading that work has influenced me to break with other conservatives on the use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding by the United States.

In the 1970's, Mr. Solzhenitsyn argued that even Soviet leaders no longer believed in Marxism and suggested that the Communist regime would soon fall. He was mocked by American intellectuals for those views, but he proved prescient. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, he triumphantly returned to his homeland. However, the subsequent regime has not lived up to his hopes for the nation.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Please, in My Backyard

While environmentalists argue that drilling in a small section of ANWR might harm the environment, homeowners and other entities throughout north Texas are laughing all the way to the bank as millions, ultimately billions, of dollars pour into their collective pockets through natural gas drilling in the area known as the "Barnett Shale." The story, which is widely discussed and known in the Dallas Fort Worth area, received national attention this week through a story in the Wall Street Journal (Hat Tip: Instapundit).

Last night, as it happens, I sat at a Rangers game last night next to a man who works for a company involved in drilling. A year ago he was in another sort of business. He's thrilled to be where he is now.

As with anything, not everyone is thrilled with the development. For the opposing view, see here. Nonetheless, the development is pouring billions of dollars into the area at a time when the national economy is struggling, and most people are happy to receive the checks for mineral rights.

"Personal unhappiness into grandiose terms"

Marvin Olasky, now a Christian and a conservative, examines the intellectual currents and his own "warped psychology" that started him down the path from existentialist to avowed Communist 40 years ago in 1968:

This would not be a dictatorship for personal gain, though, for the dictatorship is only the transitional stage required to eliminate capitalists and capitalism from the body politic. During the transitional period terrible things would be done, but shrinking from them would simply create more misery by prolonging the birth pains of the new era. Thus, more killing means less killing; more dictatorship means less dictatorship; war is peace and totalitarianism is freedom—all in the long run. Yes, communism led to much inhumanity or "sin," but it was sin going somewhere, sin that would wipe out sin.

Did I really believe this? I look back from four decades later and wonder—but that's what I started to argue at the time.

Read the rest here.

Too Soft for a Good Shave?

Home plate umpire Mark Wegner threw New York Yankees' pitcher Edwar Ramirez out of a game Thursday after the pitcher directed a pitch toward the head of Baltimore Orioles' slugger Kevin Millar.

Mr. Millar, being a fair minded man, suggested that the umpire should not have tossed Mr. Ramirez:

"I was upset they threw him out of the game because he's really good hitting. He's a cute little fella, he didn't throw that hard and he doesn't have very good stuff....It's not a big deal. Ramirez tries his little heart out, but I love facing him. He doesn't have many out pitches."

For my readers who may not be fortunate enough to be baseball fans: pitching inside and occasionally hitting batters is an expected part of the game. Throwing at a player's head is not.

"Rretorical cotton candy that elevates narcissism to a political philosophy"

The Oracle has been reviewing political intelligence reports from lobbyists in states all across the country, and that review confirms what I already knew: this is going to be a banner year for Democrats.

That being the case, why is the charismatic Democratic nominee not trouncing his Republican counterpart in early polls? George Will suggests that Americans are worried about Barack Obama's rhetoric, which can be seen as either vacuous or alarming:

Even an eloquent politician can become, as Benjamin Disraeli described William Gladstone, "a sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity." John Kennedy said in Berlin, "Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free." That half-baked and badly written thought was either trivial because it was tautological (when one man is enslaved, not every man is free) or it was absurd (when one man is not free, no man is free). That absurdity is dangerous because it makes a grandiose mission seem imperative, as in President George W. Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

Over the last few weeks, Sen. Obama, who is famously lacking in actual accomplishment of the sort that would seem to prepare one to be President, has delivered this rhetoric while his campaign has arranged a series of events designed to give him a presidential "appearance." It does not seem to have occurred to his campaign advisers, who have the hubris of most campaign consultants of both major parties to believe that the message can always be manipulated, that many Americans intuitively understand that such hard work at appearances may indicate a lack of substantive preparedness.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Not Seeing Beyond the End of Their Noses

Radio reports heard this morning on Barack Obama's "tweaking" and "finessing" (not flip flopping) of his energy policy included the statement that "energy analysts" did not think that increasing domestic drilling for oil would have any immediate impact on the price of gasoline, as it would take 10 years for expanded drilling to result in an increase in fuel production.

Even if one grants, and it is arguable, that these analysts are correct, isn't their myopia part of the reason that we have reached the current mess? Such energy analysts seem to be joining a glut of American politicians who seem to think that nothing really counts as a problem or a solution unless it plays out by the middle of next week. Such thinking, or lack thereof, has contributed heavily to the lack of a coherent national policy with regard to energy, transportation, housing, and entitlements. Those are the most important issues in the current domestic debate, but that list could be easily expanded.

Of course, leadership is not required to any convincing degree if the thinking is merely short-term. American politics, on both the left and the right, currently suffers badly from a deficit of true leaders.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Pelosi, Dems Hurting the Planet

Sometimes, it is said, people cannot see the forest for the trees, and one might express pity for an environmental movement that fails in that regard. While the metaphor is not quite on target, that essentially describes what Charles Krauthammer has to say about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's environmentalist approach/energy policy, which refuses to acknowledge the current reality that Americans require oil, and that the most environmentally sound approach would be to expand drilling for it here:

The United States has the highest technology to ensure the safest drilling. Today, directional drilling -- essentially drilling down, then sideways -- allows access to oil that in 1970 would have required a surface footprint more than three times as large. Additionally, the United States has one of the most extensive and least corrupt regulatory systems on the planet.

Does Pelosi imagine that with so much of America declared off-limits, the planet is less injured as drilling shifts to Kazakhstan and Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea? That Russia will be more environmentally scrupulous than we in drilling in its Arctic?

The net environmental effect of Pelosi's no-drilling willfulness is negative. Outsourcing U.S. oil production does nothing to lessen worldwide environmental despoliation. It simply exports it to more corrupt, less efficient, more unstable parts of the world -- thereby increasing net planetary damage.

Doing the Crime; Doing the Time

The Dallas Morning News reports that when a crew from the local electric service company responded to a reported power failure, they found something unexpected:

When crews arrived, they found cut wires on the ground and [James Buster] McKay stuck between transformers on the pole, police said.

Dallas Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Sherrie Lopez said the man had been hit with about 7,000 volts, possibly twice. The rescue was hindered because his flesh had adhered to the metal components on the pole. Much of his clothes had either "burned off or blown off," she said.

After speaking of evidence at the scene indicating that Mr. McKay was attempting to steal copper when the incident occurred, Ms. Lopez commented, "There is no amount of copper that is worth the pain this man is going to have to endure."

Mr. McKay is in critical condition. Upon recovery, he will be charged with a felony.