Friday, October 19, 2012

A Waste Of Valuable Time

Reacting after the second presidential debate, Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution tweeted "We've had 4 hrs of debates and criminal justice & prison reform hasn't been mentioned once.  Think that says a lot abt our nat'l debate."

Yes, it does, as well as about the insufficiency of six hours of debates among the presidential and vice-presidential nominees.   But this from Barack Obama says more about our national debate:

The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years.

Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. But what I’ve also said is we can’t just produce traditional source of energy. We’ve also got to look to the future. That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That’s why we doubled clean — clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels.

And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years. Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas...

The President, at least, gave a nod to "environmentally sound" policies and reducing demand.  Mitt Romney, informed that fossil fuel production has been rising, wasn't satisfied that the pace of global warming has been sufficiently rapid:

Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.

So where’d the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.

Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix.

But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries. I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and said, “Please save my job.” The head of the EPA said, “You can’t build a coal plant. You’ll virtually — it’s virtually impossible given our regulations.” When the president ran for office, he said if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but you’ll go bankrupt. That’s not the right course for America.

Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have, as well as the energy sources for the future. And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years, you’re going to see manufacturing jobs come back. Because our energy is low cost, that are already beginning to come back because of our abundant energy. I’ll get America and North America energy independent. I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.

We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know...

Perhaps because tar sands oil is particularly destructive to the environment, the pipeline would eliminate more jobs in tourism, ranching and agriculture than it would create in construction, the pipeline probably will raise oil prices in the Midwest, and most of the oil is slated to go to the same mainland China Romney gets so hot and bothered about otherwise.

No matter.   Even as the two candidates vie to outduel each other to prove he can make the bigger carbon footprint, one can only imagine how they would have handled prison reform.The American people- in the abstract- want all criminals put, as the late George Wallace put it, "under the jail."   No penalty can be so severe, in the collective mind of voters, and many (mistakenly) believe prisoners enjoy all manner of luxuries.   Overlay that with an economic slump and any discussion of criminal justice would be punctuated by weeping and gnashing of teeth over criminals having it so easy while unemployment is so high (as is true) and the budget deficit is crushing the nation (which is not true).

Criminal justice and prison reform?   No presidential or vice-presidential nominee, nor any candidate from either major political party for either position with a credible chance of being nominated, ever has advocated the end of the drug war, the legalization of marijuana, or even decriminalization of marijuana possession.    And a candidate who has never mentioned "inner city" or "poverty" and one who believes workers who earn a meager salary are freeloaders dependent on government who don't take responsibility for their lives will have anything sensible to say about convicted criminals?
Sure they would, and tomorrow it will snow in Miami.

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