Oil pipeline debate
A Nebraska farmer who’d already been paid for an easement for part of the Keystone XL pipeline to be built on his land said on National Public Radio recently that the project was opposed by a very vocal 5 percent of the population. These 5 percent have been well represented on The Star letters pages, and I’d wager most of the folks writing these letters drive.
Let’s consider the views of the 95 percent. The pipeline will provide 9,000 unsubsidized skilled jobs during construction.
Oil will be extracted and shipped regardless of whether the pipeline is built. Not building it won’t keep the carbon in the ground. It will ship on trains, and we’ve seen how hazardous that can be. The pipeline will be rural and buried.
So much oil is being shipped there are too few trains to haul crops, driving up food prices.
And, yes, gas prices are low, but that won’t last.
In the past 15 years, gas prices have been close to $4 per gallon. Betting they’ll stay low forever is betting against history.
Remember Hurricane Katrina?
Does anyone really believe there won’t be oil shocks in our future? Let’s not wait for the next one.
I have two questions for all the right-wingers crying “oil independence” and saying we need such jobs in America. When the GOP-dominated House and Senate passed the much-heralded Keystone XL pipeline, why did they omit two amendments that would have addressed both of these concerns?
One amendment called for all the steel pipe and structure to be produced in America, creating American jobs. The second amendment called for all the oil produced to be sold only in America, underscoring oil independence.
All we’ve heard out of Republicans since President Barack Obama took office was that we need more jobs and we need to be oil independent. It seems to me that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Return to ignorance
I’m very worried about how the current administration in Kansas is making decisions that will have long-lasting implications. It seems to me that social welfare, public education and the civil rights of gays and lesbians are being trampled in the name of progress.
The state is not moving forward. Instead, many decisions being made are leading to an earlier time.
In the 21st century, ignorance isn’t bliss.
Better school funding
President Barack Obama wants to keep us taxpayers from having to pay for stadiums for the greedy sports team owners. The money should go to the schools and not these rich out-of-town owners.
KCK castle decay
Historic brick Italian villa-style Sauer Castle sits above the Kaw River in Kansas City, Kan. (3-14, A1, “Decay haunts a KCK castle”). It is deteriorating and owned by a perennial late tax-paying Manhattan social scene absentee owner.
Government legally has been unable to do anything about the structure for a number of years. The neighborhood was against a bed-and-breakfast use, citing traffic, which prompted the sale years back.
This would be a great story for The New York Times and a PBS film, much like the Philadelphia Barnes art collection. Perhaps that would prompt some action.
Kansas City, Kan.
In 1970, I was proud to be initiated as a little sister for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Kansas. Although the Greek system was segregated at the time, I never evidenced racism among the male house members.
More than 40 years later, a video was released showing several Sigma Alpha Epsilon men from the University of Oklahoma chanting a racial slur, referencing lynching and indicating that blacks would never be admitted to their chapter (3-13, B12, “Team protest over video continuing”).
This racist behavior was reprehensible, disgusting, sickening and repulsive.
Sadly, this incident occurred as civil rights leaders commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Ala.
Although our nation has made great strides in eliminating racial discrimination, we obviously have a long way to go.
Regarding the March 17 letter on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I maintain that things are not as depicted. A broad range of stakeholders has been consulted in crafting the TPP.
These include those representing the interests of labor, business, the environment, consumer protection and faiths. The agreement is being crafted in concert with the U.S. trade representative, and there have been more than 1,600 briefings of Congress. Before the final agreement is approved, there will be opportunities for public comment and hearings.
Why do we need the TPP in the first place? Just look at the status quo. Fair labor rules are not enforced.
U.S. producers commonly face tariffs of 30 percent to 40 percent and higher while incoming goods are subjected to 1.5 percent rates. We need protection for intellectual property and for trafficking in endangered wildlife species.
Environmental rules do not exist or are not enforced. American workers could compete on a level playing field that does not now exist.
Finally, we need to ask ourselves, Do we want to help write the rules for trade in the 21st century or do we want to stand on the sidelines and let China write the rules?
Much has been made of the letter written to Iran’s ruling mullahs by Republican senators, with President Barack Obama saying that it is ironic that they should be siding with the “hardliners in Iran.”
Yet it has been widely reported (and not denied by the White House) that the president, virtually since he took office, has been writing to the Ayatollah.
The senators’ letter has been made public while Obama’s letters remain undisclosed. Who is siding with the hardliners?
Indeed, where is the irony?
Those who fancy the efficacy of torture in obtaining truth might well consider that 300 years ago in Salem, Mass., of the 20-odd executed for witchcraft, when subjected to the enhanced interrogation techniques of the day, all but one supposedly admitted to being in league with Beelzebub, wheeling about the night skies on broomsticks and casting evil spells on neighbors.
People who believe in torture might consider that although those practicing torture today have mainly applied it to foreigners, the native-born could, amid specious legal constructs, be subjected to it just as easily when it is fancied as useful.
Presidents, wars, God
I have been reading Lady Bird Johnson’s, “A White House Diary.” On March 14 at breakfast, I picked up The Star and read, “Grappling with God.” David Gibson described a frustrated Lyndon Johnson beating his hands on his desk, wondering why God was not “making his life easier.”
I folded the paper and opened Lady Bird’s “Diary” and, coincidentally, read her entry about a small Sunday night dinner party in the family residence in February 1966. When the table discussion turned to Vietnam, someone mentioned American mothers grieving for dead sons.
Lyndon Johnson responded: “There’s not a mother in the world who cares more than I do because I have 200,000 of them over there — and they think I am in charge, and if I am not, God help them — who the hell is?”
LBJ’s agony intensified as he increased the U.S. presence in Vietnam and casualties soared. Perhaps his fists took a beating.
I suspect desks in the Oval Office will continue to have indentations from the fists of presidents wrestling with the ways of God and the ways of the American electorate.
Harold Ivan Smith