To this day there's some dispute over who originated the phrase "grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory." What is certain is we're now seeing living examples of the phrase, demonstrated by both the Obama administration and the Republican Party.
The death penalty isn't perfect, but then neither are we. The botched execution last month in Oklahoma has raised legitimate questions about the secret sauce Texas uses on death row, and a lot of Texans still haven't gotten over the state-that is, us-executing Cameron Todd Willingham based on unscientific and discredited folk tales about arson. The Oklahoma incident in particular has caused many to re-examine the death penalty's use in Texas, but the problem isn't the process but the people who carry it out.
You wouldn't know it from all the perpetual doom and gloom in our media and culture, but we have nearly eradicated pollution in the United States. So much so that most Americans are blissfully unaware of how severely polluted the world was for all of human history up to the time of our grandparents.
In the bad old days, medieval German Lords figured out how to pocket some quick coin by charging a toll on the primitive paths meandering across their lands. The money wasn't used to improve the roads or better the lives of the peasants or clean the rivers their pigs pooped in but rather heighten the piles in their treasury. Even back then, you just couldn't have enough pewter candlesticks.