So I drove from Washington DC to central Ohio yesterday, marveling as I always do at how much nicer the highways get when you cross into West Virginia—testament to the supreme pork barrel skills of the late Sen. Robert Byrd. One notable feature of driving through western Maryland, southwestern Pennsylvania, and southeastern Ohio are all of the pro-coal (and some pro-natural gas) billboards you see along the highways, mostly sponsored by FORCE: Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy. These are people who clearly understand the environmental threat to their livelihoods. Some of their billboards note that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, but coal works 24/7. I do wonder whether their billboards are in the wrong location. I’m sure the local community gets it; maybe these billboards should be in New York, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, etc.
A road trip from DC to anywhere in “flyover country” is a good reminder of the inverse parochialism of the two coasts. I always note that the number of gleaming office buildings you see clustered around the Beltway diminish asymptotically close to zero after a couple hours, and the vehicle fleet changes: fewer Lexuses and Mercedes and late model BMWs that are fashionable in DC; more older American cars and trucks. I drove my wife’s 2004 BMW 325xi, and note that it was often an object of fascination and comment at the gas and convenience store stops I made. In DC a small, seven-year old BMW mostly elicits snickers, for only the deprived would drive such an inferior model. Central Ohio is also Amish country, hence the sign.
What brings me here? I’m in Ashland University all this week teaching my annual course for the Ashbrook Center’s master’s degree program in history and American government for high school teachers. Any public school social studies teachers out there among Power Line readers might want to look into this program, as it is the best in the country. Here you’ll learn useful and important things about American history and government, without the usual pedagogical nonsense you get most places. Check it out. Blogging may be light starting Monday, as I’ll be in class four and a half hours every day this week.