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Case In Point

March 6, 2006

An administration that continues to puzzle

It is almost painful to watch as those we have elected, and those they have appointed, fumble and scramble from one issue to the next.

Iraq threatens almost daily to slip into civil war; Iran, a sponsor of terrorism, is on the brink of joining North Korea and going nuclear; the response to Katrina, before and after, was and is a disaster; no-warrant eavesdropping remains unresolved; the questionable agreement to allow the U.A.E. to manage our ports has only highlighted the fact that our ports, some four-plus years after 9/11, are still sieves; and there&

s the lobbying scandals, the Scooter Libby indictment, the handling of the hunting accident of Vice President Cheney. The list goes on. It&

s a puzzle how this administration, so quick to remind us after the last presidential election victory of the political capital accrued, can get it all so wrong.

Consider the following: The Associated Press reported last Wednesday that there was confidential video footage showing federal disaster officials warning President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could put lives at risk and overwhelm rescuers. The video, widely disseminated, shows the President asking questions and seeming to be engaged.

The AP report goes on to say that Bush declared four days after the storm, &

I don&

t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.&

We know what happens next. Four days later our president issues another of his memorable zingers: &

You&

re doing a heck of a job, Brownie.&

Now, six months later, rows and rows of trailers sit unused, and millions of yards of debris go untouched and victims of the storm remain in limbo, many still homeless, without electricity. As one man said, &

This is more than I can bear.&

We read in the New York Times that last year President Bush invited Michael Crichton to the White House to discuss his book, &

State of Fear,&

which has as its premise that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat. Fine. At the very least, assemble experts and data from all sides instead of using the canard of repeatedly questioning the science or insisting that more research is needed. If some experts are correct, global warming &

an issue connected not only to our dependency on foreign oil, but our addiction to oil period, which is linked to the greenhouse effect &

may be the perfect environmental storm in the offing, sooner than later.

The Times, in its article, references Fred Barnes&

book, &

Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush.&

It was in Barnes&

book that the Crichton visit to the White House was mentioned. Apparently, Bush had &

avidly&

read Crichton&

s book and the issues defined therein captured his attention. The meeting was arranged at the suggestion of Karl Rove, chief political advisor. Barnes reports that the two met for an hour.

The only problem with the above reported scenario is that Michael Crichton is not a climatologist, not an expert on the greenhouse effect, but a novelist, screenwriter, and &

State of Fear&

is a work of fiction, a novel meant to entertain. There is a huge gulf between its thesis and what is taking place environmentally. If you want to make a serious study of religion you don&

t start with &

The DaVinci Code.&

Due in part to Mr. Crichton&

s latest book, the Times points out, he won the Association of Petroleum Geologists&

annual journalism award in February of this year, and its been reported that he has appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science regarding global warming is mixed at best. That&

s the equivalent of having the cast of the popular television show, &

Scrubs&

being called to Washington to discuss the reasons behind our chronic shortage of nurses.

In the most recent State of the Union Address, Bush declared, &

America is addicted to foreign oil. The best way to break this addiction is through technology.&

But if you ponder, even briefly, the meaning of our addiction and if you are serious about solutions, the next step would be to craft concrete proposals that would point to our using less (a gasoline tax to support wide-ranging renewable energy research). However, the subtext of the Union statement was that the president&

s budget, according to a press release by the Sierra Club, eliminated $113 million from Department of Energy conservation programs, cuts the Weatherization Assistance Program by a third, and increases oil and gas drilling on BLM lands.

In the week following the Union address, Bush was schedule to speak at the Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. However, just days prior to his arrival, the media learned that $28 million had been cut from the Laboratory&

s budget which meant the layoff of 32 alternative energy researchers, many of them working on wind and biomass technologies &

the very ones mentioned in the President&

s speech. Hurriedly, some $5 million was found and the scientists were rehired. For how long is unclear.

&

We appreciate what you are doing,&

Bush said to the assembled workers at NREL, &

and we want to help you keep doing it.&

The litany of contemporary issues beg for courageous leadership and forward leaning solutions. Time is of the essence. Why this administration, with its eight-year mandate and control of Congress, has not stepped forward continues to puzzle.

Correction: Regarding last week&

s column about hunting, readers have written in to say that the ammunition both for the Varmint Pro 550 and that used for a shotgun were incorrectly identified. Bullet weights are given in grains, not grams, hence, the ammunition used for the Varmint Pro, identified as being 535-570 &

grams,&

should have been cited as being 535-570 &

grain&

bullets. The weight of the pellets for the shotgun was also incorrectly identified. One reader did the math and pointed out that the ammo, in the case of Pro 550, would be larger than the gun.

Case in Point regrets the error.