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It would be a country where energy was so expensive that nobody but the federal government could afford it. It would be a country where no one bathed, there was very little to eat and virtually no economic activity. The only freedom left would be the freedom to suffer.

Of course, this sort of “utopia” — especially with the degradation of the military — would be ripe for the picking by a country like China, which knows how to maximize natural resources.

It is, in the end, Mad Max, only without the hopeful visage of Tina Turner.

In announcing his decision in a brief written statement on Friday, Mr. Obama reminded us that he is never short of pretty talk or low on self-admiration.

“I want to be clear,” he said as he sentenced thousands to death. “My commitment and the commitment of my administration to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering.”

Unless, of course, it interferes with his re-election.

Charles Hurt’s column appears Wednesday. He can be reached at