David Rodeback's Blog

Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Saturday, November 12, 2005
Local Gasoline Prices, a Pleasant Political Escape, and Good Readings on Many Topics

A couple of quick notes:

I saw gasoline in Taylorsville two days ago for $2.119 per gallon. The price was about $0.28 higher in American Fork, but appears to be dropping here, too. Political types with a personal or ideological ax to grind claim the price has fallen because oil company executives have lately been testifying on Capitol Hill, and they dropped the price as a PR move. More sensible folk suspect that production and refinery capacity which was shut down by hurricanes is coming back on line, so the supply has increased.

Sunday's episode of the The West Wing, where the nation is in the fictional throes of a presidential election, was a live policy debate between fictional presidential candidates played by Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda. I'm sure it was scripted, which means that it was only slightly less spontaneous than last year's real presidential debates. (I call them real because they involved actual presidential candidates, not because they were full-fledged debates.) I only saw two-thirds of it, but it struck me as a nice piece of political escapism for both liberals and conservatives. For an hour we got to imagine what it would be like to see two intelligent, very articulate candidates debate the actual substance of actual issues. They really went after each other, in ways real candidates have mostly been afraid to attempt in recent years. Some of the arguments were still somewhat canned, but in general there was more depth and substance on major issues than we tend to hear in a real campaign. At NBC.com there was a poll afterward, where you could indicate who you thought was the winner. The results I saw after voting were unsurprising, 65-35 in favor of the younger, better looking, Democrat played by Smits. More escapism, mostly for liberals, this time.

Here's my list of good readings from this week, by topic. It's rather long, since I didn't do this mid-week, as I often do. As usual, I found most of the links at RealClearPolitics.com and JewishWorldReview.com, but the Seattle article on skiing in Utah is courtesy of my Seattle-ite wife.

  • Utah: See George Will on Utah and No Child Left Behind. See Seattle Times editor Brian Cantwell on skiing in Utah on inexpensive ski trips to Utah. (I don't ski, but the article was fun.)
  • Burning France: See Mona Charen, Joel Kotkin, and Froma Harrop.
  • Election Results in Virginia, Ohio, California: John Podhoretz says they may not mean what we're hearing.
  • Iraq, Terrorism, Immigration, etc.: Michael Barone and Dick Morris discuss proposed immigration policy. Jack Kelly would welcome a serious national debate on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; they may not have been as absent as we were told. James Lileks weighs in on the continued political wrangling over how we got into the war in Iraq. David Gelernter thinks a total ban on the use of torture is unwise. Nat Hentoff, a libertarian, worries about the threats posed to our liberty by the expanded police powers the Patriot Act granted to help fight terrorism. (I think that dependency on government handouts and widespread ignorance about principles and processes of goverment and major issues themselves are much greater threats to our liberty.)
  • UN Internet-Envy: Peter A. Brown discusses the UN's desire to take over the Internet, and the US response, which is essentially, "Take a long walk off a short pier." Good for US.
  • Free Speech on Campus: It's not exactly news that free speech is endangered on American college campuses, but this piece from Suzanne Fields suggests that it's actually dead at one public campus in Wisconsin. See also TheFire.org, where they keep track of such things.
  • Gasoline Prices: Now that gasoline prices are dropping, Charles Krauthammer suggests we not let them drop below $3.00 per gallon. I don't think that's a good idea, but the reasoning behind it mostly makes sense.
  • Senate Wimps: Thomas Sowell doesn't think Republican voters are going to put up with much more spineless behavior by Senate Republicans, as exhibited lately in connection with the Alito nomination.
  • Veterans: Tom Purcell has reheated some chicken soup for the veteran's soul.

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