Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 29, 2013

Washington tosses up a bounty of good topics

By Taylor Armerding
CNHI

— For anybody tracking political machinations and societal ironies, it's been a target-rich environment lately - too many to pick just one.

There is not enough space to mention them all, but here are a few of the highlights.

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If you can have it both ways, why not go for it? That seems to be the goal of President Obama regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, proposed to carry oil from Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas.

According to multiple reports, the Obama administration is planning to add global warming/climate change to the list of things all federal agencies should consider under the National Environmental Policy Act before approving any major projects.

As National Review's Stanley Kurtz observes, that means the administration could, "green-light the pipeline, file a report that stops short of calling Keystone a major global-warming hazard, and still find the project delayed for years by environmental groups bringing court challenges under the new NEPA guidelines."

In short, he can approve it, officially, but also make sure it gets stalled into oblivion.

What was that about Mitt Romney not having any core principles?

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What's with Hillary Clinton? She's just a former U.S. senator and secretary of state. While she remains the wife of a former president, she is neither an appointed nor elected public official.

So, why would she think it necessary to announce her support for same-sex marriage this past week in a video released by the Human Rights Campaign?

Who really cares what she thinks? You don't suppose Clinton might be joining all politically correct, right-thinking people in preparation for running for anything, do you?

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Crazy Uncle Harry is at it again. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, famous for delusional claims like the one about 18 months ago, that the private sector was "doing fine" when official unemployment was close to 9 percent and the real rate was well above that, launched another one last week.

This one falls in the category of, "always use a tragedy to score a political point."

Reid, speaking on the Senate floor, strongly implied that an explosion that killed seven Marines at an ammunitions depot in Hawthorne, Nev., was due to the recent sequester which, he said had "cut back in training and maintenance."

This is both absurd and pernicious. First, Reid seems to forget that it is his party and its supporters - liberal Democrats - who are the most interested in cutting defense spending.

Second, the sequester had nothing to do with it. The sequester, which does not cut but only restrains spending, took effect March 1. Is Reid so dim that he thinks there was some big training program in the first couple of weeks of March that the sequester canceled?

This tragedy happened during a training exercise, when a mortar shell exploded in its firing tube. Maybe if the training had been canceled, it never would have happened.

At least when Vice President Joe Biden says something stupid - as he did this week when he claimed former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords had been "mortally wounded" by a gunman (she is still alive) - it's usually just a mistake. Reid does it on purpose.

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Another tragedy came to partial closure recently, when two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio, were convicted of raping a 16-year-old female student at a party.

The convictions were appropriate. Also, much of the discussion surrounding the case, both before and after the convictions, confronted an important issue: that in too many communities, high-school athletes get a pass for criminal behavior. Obviously they didn't in this case, and that's a good thing.

Still, there is another elephant in the room that hasn't gotten nearly enough attention. The victim was drunk - so drunk that she was unconscious and unable to give or refuse consent to any kind of sexual activity.

Please, hold the outraged e-mails. I'm not saying this means she deserved to be assaulted. But alcohol played a major, probably pivotal, role in this tragedy. The victim did consent to drinking, until she drank too much. The two boys also were drinking, and as we all know, alcohol undermines good judgment. Underage drinking is also a crime.

Our political leaders are forever saying some policy should be implemented, "if it saves even one life." In this case, three lives have been irrevocably tainted, and it could have been avoided if there had been better control of teen access to alcohol.

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Michelle Shocked, the folk-pop singer, is on every politically correct person's do-not-call, do-not-listen, do-not-buy list after she made some anti-gay remarks at a San Francisco club last Sunday. Since then, even after she issued a couple of apologies, 10 of the remaining 11 venues on her tour canceled her shows, and she canceled the other one herself.

Situations like this call for a version of the Golden Rule, I think: Do unto others only what you think should be done to yourself.

In other words, if she had issued pro-gay remarks that offended her audience, and 10 of her next 11 concerts were canceled by the venues, would that be considered just retribution for expressing her view?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

- Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net