June 12th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal has an article comparing Brazil and the US in their approaches to drilling for oil off their coasts. He points out that the Brazilian oil company Petrobas has just discovered around 8 billion barrels of oil of its coast and it has become a national bonanza with no-one seriously suggesting that drilling shouldn’t begin immediately. Coincidentally, that is around the same amount which we believe to be available in the various places off the US coast where drilling is not currently allowed. As a result, Henninger suggests, contrary to Charles de Gaulle’s famous comment that “Brazil is not a serious country,” current US energy policy suggests that Brazil is perfectly serious, but the US may not be. There’s also a video interview with Henninger embedded in the article, which summarizes it nicely.

I also recently read / re-read the transcript of the fictional presidential debate which occurred on one of the later seasons of the West Wing (I’m not a fan generally but had read about it in a Peggy Noonan column a while back). In it, the Republican nominee Vinick (played by Alan Alda) has a wonderful little bit about ANWR which I thought worth re-posting here (Santos is the Democrat, Sawyer is the moderator):

That wilderness is much more valuable than the oil that’s underneath it. I think that the pathway to a better, more sustainable future does not go through the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

Excuse me, Senator.

A year’s worth of oil? That sounds like a lot to me and there could be more. There could be much more down there. We’ll never know until we start drilling. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place. Have you ever been there?


I haven’t either. Have you? Anyone? Clap if you’ve been to the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

There is silence.

Uh-huh. And that’s about as many people who will ever go to ANWR. None. I mean, maybe a few very rich people will go up there with private planes and snap some pictures in the summertime. I mean, this ain’t the Grand Canyon we’re talking about. How many of you have been to the Grand Canyon?

A great number of people in the audience applaud. Vinick again grabs his wireless microphone and comes around to the front of his podium.

If they discovered big oil reserves in the Grand Canyon, I’d never let them drill there because it’s our most magnificent natural monument and because real people get to go there. They get to see it, they get to taste it, to touch it, to experience it in all its glory. Now, you know, we’re talking about a country that has oil wells within site of the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara; oil wells within site of every Texas beach; thousands of operating oil wells in the city of Los Angeles. I just saw an oil well in the parking lot of a McDonalds in Long Beach the other day. And now Democrats are saying we can’t put oil wells in a place so remote that only the animals will see them? I wish we could put all our oil wells up there, where no one could see them.

The audience applauds.

May 23rd, 2008 by Rightsideup

I read the Freakonomics blog on the NYTimes.com website frequently, and recently came across this posting by Steven Dubner. In it, he recites some of the responses given by West Point cadets to the opening phrase, “war is…”:

    • Unfortunately war is necessary and has been for thousands of years.
    • War is a tragic and hopefully unnecessary part of life. I pray that militaries may become deterrent forces only.
    • War is a necessary evil.
    • While war may appear to be the least beneficial thing to mankind and society in general, there are numerous aspects of it which further our development. Whether it be the liberation of oppressed people or simply the cooperation of two very different peoples, which results in new friendships between cultures, many positives are found amongst the tragedies.
    • War is the most effective way to get things done.
    • War is about protecting the innocent and fighting so others don’t have to.
    • Fear leads to hatred and hatred leads to war.
    • It is a horrible and necessary thing. We may as well be the best at it.
    • I believe war is a necessary evil if there is a good enough reason (e.g., World War II).
    • War is that in which humans grow most.
    • I think war is a way to strengthen our country. It shows other countries that our country will not be stepped on and we will defend our country.
    • War is a failure of diplomacy. As soldiers and officers we will manage and control the application of violence in order to protect the United States.

      He goes on to say:

      The 12 answers reflect the thoughtful, varied, and independent mindset that I have always encountered when dealing with folks at West Point, properly known as the United States Military Academy. It is a truly remarkable institution, and I wish the rest of the world knew more about it.

      This echoes nicely the piece I wrote on John McCain’s views on war a while back. Both the speech that posting referred to and the quotes above do a good job of refuting this idea that soldiers and Republicans (presumably, especially Republican soldiers) are a bunch of warmongers. It’s refreshing to see this kind of accurate view of prospective officers’ sentiments on view out there in the open for people to see. Those who have fought or know they may be called upon to do so seem to develop a more nuanced view of war than those who sit on the sidelines, whether pacifists or warmongers. They realize the necessity of war but do not delight or glory in it. It’s ultimately a very realistic view of war and one more of us should adopt.

      April 8th, 2008 by Rightsideup


      The author of this cartoon (click the image for a larger version) – Michael Ramirez – just won a Pulitzer. And this cartoon is a good example of why. He appears to get right to the nub of the issue with pretty much every one. More here.

      Thanks to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.