Tuesday, May 18, 2010

News of the Week

Primary Season
Some very dramatic results tonight in state primaries for three Senate races, but I would maintain that they don't change a thing.
First, in Pennsylvania, Congressman (and former Admiral) Joe Sestak took out long-time incumbent Senator Arlen Specter.
Second, in Kentucky, the battle for an open Senate seat took place as Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) won the Republican nomination and Attorney General Jack Conway defeated Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo for the Democratic nomination.
Third, in Arkansas, challenger Bill Halter forced Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln into a runoff (technically, one could argue that it was the third-place candidate, D.C. Morrison who created the need for the runoff).

One could say that these were surprising results, in the sense that incumbents and establishment Republicans suffered setbacks, but none of these individual cases were completely unanticipated. Maybe the most surprising of these results for me was the defeat of Mongiardo, who has proven some strength for the Democrats in statewide races in Kentucky, a tough row to hoe for Dem.

Pennsylvania is still a tossup (though I am much more likely to take an active role supporting the Democratic candidate with Sestak's win), Kentucky is still a likely Republican hold (though I am excited at the prospect of a Republican Senator in Mitch McConnell's own state he can't successfully control), and Arkansas is still an extremely unlikely Democratic hold, no matter whether Lincoln or Halter wins the runoff.

Wizard Wall
The NBA's lottery, on the other hand, once again produced a surprise. There is a great history of this probabilistic endeavor producing improbable results, and tonight was no different, as the 6th and 7th most-likely teams (as I recall), the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers, got the first and second draft spots.

I am happy that the Wizards got the first pick, which one would have to expect will be used for brilliant Kentucky freshman point guard John Wall. That pick might seem to dispossess the Wizards' incumbent--bad day for incumbents is the unifying message?--but Gilberto Arenas was already on the way out, one way or the other, after his conviction on a gun violation occurring in the Wizards' locker room. It's much better for the Wizards to get Wall than the two other "finalists" of the final three teams, which each have good, young point guards (Jrue Holliday on the 76ers and Devon Harris on the last-place New Jersey Nets).

Don't Drill Me, Bro!
I haven't commented on the Deepwater Horizon debacle in the Gulf of Mexico yet; I think I was hoping for some good news on efforts to contain it, news that just doesn't seem to be forthcoming.

I have to admit that I was much too lax about offshore drilling and open to the idea that the technical advances had made it safe, at least in areas like the Gulf of Mexico that I would consider a little less than pristine and environmentally sensitive. The scale of this disaster, and its colossally bad management dimensions (by private industry and the government agencies supposed to be regulating the activity) have totally undermined my belief in this source of energy production.

At this point I would have to oppose any offshore drilling of any kind and support the strongest possible regulation of all existing drilling. I also support a substantial tax on imported oil in all forms.

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