Madison County Opinion...

OCTOBER 20, 2004

By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
October 20, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Candidates show Halloween spirit of trying to spook us
Halloween is rapidly approaching. The season when we are told to be afraid, be very afraid. The two major presidential candidates have gotten into the spirit of the season. Each of them is trying to frighten us into voting against the other.
Yes, dear hearts, the season of political fear is upon us. If we vote for the Republicans, the Democrats say, we will lose our Social Security. They have said that for the last several elections. Finally they have hauled out a new ghost. They are trying to scare us into believing that President Bush will reinstate the draft if re-elected.
On the other side, the Republicans accuse the Democrats of trying to take over health care and being soft on terrorism. Both concepts are definitely frightening especially to those of us who believe that government should be limited to protecting our safety and security.
So, how do we decide who deserves our support? Since the remaining two weeks of this campaign will likely be more and more scary, I suggest that you turn off your radio and TV, go to the library or on the Internet and catalogue the actual records of the candidates. See what positions they have taken in the past. Find out what was important to each of them.
First, decide for yourself what you want our future to be. Do you want a future where government runs everything? Do you want a future where we become the world’s policemen? Do you want a future where the tax man takes more and more of your hard-earned money? Do you want a future where you are on your own when it comes to the safety and effectiveness of our medicinal drugs? Or are you concerned by something entirely different?
What position has each candidate taken on the questions of greatest concern to you? Which one is most likely to take positions that agree with your values?
The history of each man will reveal their likely futures. How they reacted in the past to national and international events will give you a clear picture of how they will react to future crises.
This is the season when we need to ignore what each candidate says about the other, and concentrate on what they are saying, or have said, about the issues that concern us.
Halloween is not intended to be taken seriously. The scary mask, the creaky music, the spider webs around the porch rails are all a part of the fun. The ghosts and goblins are there for our amusement.
But we should be deadly serious about our politics. Ghosts, goblins and threats of disaster have no place in the choice of the next president. We should be given clear, honest and detailed descriptions of the candidate’s views so that we can choose the one most likely to represent our views.
Each candidate is telling us why we should not vote for his opponent. They ought to be spending their time telling us why they deserve our vote. So far, they have succeeded in convincing me that we desperately need another choice.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is His website can be accessed at

By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
October 20, 2004

In the Meantime

The petroleum picture
A main vein of the U.S. petroleum supply runs through this county, a fact that we just don’t think about very much since it’s buried beneath us.
And in this week’s issue, I’ve tried to offer an analysis of how problems with a petroleum pipeline have affected Madison County’s citizens, its environment and its politics. (It’s an intricate and intriguing issue with many questions that can’t be answered simply. I tried to tackle as much as I could in an even-handed manner, recognizing, too, that I’d certainly fall short in some way or another.)
But in writing that story about a local pipeline, I thought a lot about how that line connects us to the rest of the world, and the global petroleum picture.
When it comes to oil, we can easily choose not to look too closely, believing that we are avoiding “liberal” or “conservative” camps of thinking.
This avoidance is somewhat understandable. You start talking petroleum with any conviction and you’ve taken a step into a political powder keg that’s going to turn off a lot of people.
People are turned off because the tendency in politics is to paint extremes, avoiding the fact that your opponents are, generally, partly right, and the fact that ideologies are, in fact, at least partly wrong when applied practically. You can recognize that in all forms if you really look. We all know that I can poke a hole in your argument and you can poke a hole in mine.
Fact is, when we look at the petroleum picture, both left and right should understand certain conditions emerging on a large scale. If we focus exclusively on the current supply-demand economics of what we pay at the pump every day, we’re not really looking at the supply-demand picture of years to come.
With finite resources, the supply inevitably dwindles. And with technology booming abroad, as well as in the U.S., the demand is going to grow.
You got your head in the sand if you don’t see the looming dilemma. In simple terms, you and I can act pleasant toward each other as long as there’s plenty of pizza on the table, but it changes when there’s one piece left and both of us are totally starving.
This is a global principle too.
Say what you want about the war in Iraq — whether it has anything to do with oil or not (I’m not going to touch that here) — without a significant shift in energy policy, we’re eventually going to be fighting for oil with other developed nations who also want to maintain their way of life. To ignore this is to deny the big supply-demand picture.
Talk alternative energy, and many want to bring out a peacenik, “greenie” stamp and note the hypocrisy of driving in a car but protesting about oil.
This can be a legitimate observation. Because anyone who ignores his own dependency on petroleum while preaching its evils sets himself up to be knocked down as a hypocrite. We’re certainly all dependent.
But if that’s where you stop in your thinking, then you’ve missed the fact that our national security is precariously weaved into the oil picture — both in future supply-demand conflicts over diminishing goods, and in current hostilities.
For instance, when we look at certain oil rich nations in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, we must recognize that there are the fabulously rich few with controlling oil interests and there are the many who struggle for basic sustenance in the shadow of greedy excess. That juxtaposition leads to bitter resentment. And that anger is legitimate. Such “have vs. have not” conflicts form a common strain throughout world history.
What’s not legitimate, is the choice of radicals to use terrorism as their political response, believing that their ideology, mostly rooted in Islamic jihad, is somehow morally just. No, it’s a perversion of morality. We can all see that so plainly.
But if we want a true diffusion of that violent force, we need to look beyond fire vs. fire, recognizing that finding another way to power our cars is, in fact, a long-term national security dilemma.
The practical-minded person retorts: “Yeah, well what source are you talking?”
That’s certainly a legitimate comeback.
And yes, that’s the catch, I admit.
But the very real difficulty in finding that answer shouldn’t stifle the recognition of the problem and the need for a solution.
I’d say, first we must recognize that leaders who don’t see the petroleum picture for what it is are doing us all a grave disservice in the long run. We should push those who represent us to make alternative energy a “war on terror” issue, with funding for technology to make alternative energy a reality.
It may not happen, but goodness knows, it’s worth a better effort.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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