Friday, June 29, 2007

Barbara Boxer's Mean Left Hook

From husband David, some personal observations from the most recent hearing on global warming in Senator Barbara Boxer's committee:
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer said that she wanted to continue hearing from all sides of the global warming debate during her closing statement at yesterday's global warming hearing.

We have reason to doubt her sincerity.

Those who disagree with her particular view of global warming can end up on the receiving end of Boxer's very mean left hook.

Just ask Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Company. During his testimony yesterday, Murray implored the committee to resist regulations that would inflict hardship on American families. He said he was particularly concerned about the welfare of the 3,300 people directly dependent and up to 36,000 indirectly dependent on Murray Energy for their livelihoods.

In response, Chairman Boxer introduced a Columbus Dispatch article, littered with quotes from her trade union movement allies, that questioned the safety record of Murray's mines.

Yes, the article was way off-topic, but the point of introducing it was to impugn Mr. Murray's reputation and undermine his credibility when he spoke of his deep concern for workers.

Senator Boxer had intended to criticize Mr. Murray without allowing him to respond, but he defended his company's safety record, sometimes speaking over her gavel.

There was no pretense of fairness. Had she chosen to be fair, Senator Boxer would have had to mention that Murray Energy received the International Society of Mine Safety Professionals' Leadership Award in 2003.

Murray did much better in the exchange.

Senator Boxer appeared petty, intemperate, and ungracious - certainly not the image the Chairman of the committee that had invited Mr. Murray to testify should project.

Perhaps even she realized this.

Moments before introducing the Columbus Dispatch article, she appeared to be showing it to freshman Senator Sheldon Whitehouse - possibly to convince him to take the lead in character assassination.

If she did, he didn't bite. Whitehouse may be a freshman, but he wasn't born yesterday.

* * *

Senator Joe Lieberman may have his flaws, but he was at least a bit more honest about how open he was to hearing the views of others.

Before departing the hearing, Lieberman said he'd be happy to meet and work with anyone who agrees that global warming is a problem and that devising a cap and trade system is the answer.

In other words, he'll be happy to meet with anyone who shares his view.

We have no reason to doubt his sincerity, at least.
To contact author David Ridenour directly,
write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:03 PM

CAFE Standard Profiteering

Timothy Carney, writing in the Examiner, on the corporations and lobbyists who are profiteering from Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards, and how much money some of their PACs give to House and Senate candidates:
While ratcheting up CAFE won’t result in miraculously more fuel-efficient cars, it also won’t drive automakers out of business. Instead, it will likely drive them toward the loophole in CAFE — the renewable fuel credit.

To have any chance of meeting the 35-mpg average, carmakers will need to start selling flex-fuel cars that have inflated mpg ratings for CAFE purposes. This will spur consumption of ethanol.

While raising the CAFE requirements would be a stick in the eye of the Big Three (whose political action committees [PACs] in 2006 gave about $1.3 million to federal candidates), it would clearly be a gift to the ethanol industry, whose strong connections to lawmakers are legendary. Ethanol, an alcohol fuel made from grain, usually corn, benefits from special tax breaks, protective tariffs, and federal and state handouts, as well as government mandates.

In the 2006 election cycle, the PAC for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the nation’s top ethanol maker, gave $120,000 to federal candidates while fellow agribusiness giant Cargill, No. 2 in ethanol, gave $223,000 to House and Senate candidates.

Also pulling for ethanol -- and thus benefiting from stricter CAFE standards -- is Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment firm that has invested $30 million in a Canadian ethanol maker.

Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla, who recently penned a New York Times op-ed along with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., calling for even more ethanol mandates, is also heavily invested in ethanol...
Profiteering through the expansion of a regulation that kills a couple of thousand Americans per year can be described in one short phrase: Blood money.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:57 PM

Climate Change is a Human Issue

From Stella Dulanya and Peyton Knight, a report on the latest Senate global warming hearing:
Yesterday, National Center Senior Fellow Thomas J. Borelli, Ph.D., testified on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund before the U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing entitled, "Examining Global Warming Issues in the Power Plant Sector."

In his testimony, Tom stressed that CEOs who succumb to, or attempt to capitalize on, the political flavor-of-the-day risk harming their company's long-term profitability.

As Tom pointed out:
All too often, today's CEOs make decisions based on appeasing social and political pressure or by trying to generate revenue through legislation that favor their company. In our view, these strategies are shortsighted because they stymie competition, innovation and jeopardize future earnings.

For these very reasons, we strongly oppose cap and trade legislation and company participation in the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). Accordingly, we are in opposition to legislation that sets carbon dioxide limits and allocations for the utility industry.

While the science implicating human activity on global warming is uncertain and speculative, the economic costs of cap and trade legislation are certain and severe. We are deeply concerned about the affect of cap and trade on both the U.S. economy and on the future profitability of the companies in our portfolio - including PG&E and Duke Energy.
Borelli also discussed the specific CEOs, including Caterpillar, Inc.'s James Owens:
Caterpillar's CEO James Owens admitted he did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis of cap and trade before deciding to join USCAP. In addition, he was not aware of the CBO study that found cap and trade regulations would hurt his coal industry customers.

This CEO survey illustrates a complete ignorance about the consequences of global warming regulations on the economy and their businesses.

Caterpillar's participation in USCAP is a perfect illustration of CEO incompetence and deception surrounding cap and trade legislation. Caterpillar's future profit depends on a growing economy and growth in the energy and mining industries. In fact, according to its 10-K filing with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), it cites a decline in the economic growth and a decline in the mining industry as a key risk to its business.

Yet inexplicably, Mr. Owens is a member of USCAP, which supports cap and trade regulations that are going to harm the economy and the coal business - a key customer for Caterpillar products. Astonishingly, CEO Owens is lobbying against his own earnings!

Not only is Owens harming his company, he is keeping his shareholders in the dark. Nowhere does Caterpillar disclose to its shareholders that its support of cap and trade can potentially lead to a decline in its business.
Also testifying at yesterday's hearing was Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis, Ph.D., who noted that "regulatory strategies like the Kyoto Protocol... are all economic pain for no environmental gain." Dr. Lewis explained:
Based on favorable scientific assumptions, the Kyoto treaty would avert only 0.07 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2050. That's too small an amount for scientists to detect. Put somewhat differently, Kyoto would postpone the arrival of a 2.6 degrees Celsius warming by five years - from 2095 to 2100...

Similarly, Kyoto would avert only one centimeter of sea-level rise by 2050 and 2.5 centimeters by 2100. It would have no measurable effect on hurricane strength, even if global warming makes hurricanes stronger, and none on malaria-related mortality, even if global warming increases the population risk of exposure to malaria.

However, although Kyoto would provide no discernable climate protection, it would cost the U.S. economy tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in higher energy prices, lost jobs, and lower GDP.
Robert Murray, President and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, pointed out in his testimony yesterday that "climate change is a human issue," and brought home the harsh reality of inhumane global warming policies, including those that would restrict carbon dioxide emissions:
It seems to us that the leadership of this Congress, with the support of the Majority of this Committee and some Republicans, are intent on helping Mr. Gore and those of his ilk in achieving his unquestionable legacy, which will be the destruction of American lives and more death as a result of his hysterical global goofiness, with no environmental benefit...

We do not know how many members of Congress, and particularly the Democrat Majority, have actually ever created a job for anyone. I have created 3,300 primary jobs and up to 36,000 secondary ones, according to the Pennsylvania State University, from a mortgaged home, and I can tell you that it is virtually impossible to do so today in our great country due to difficulties imposed by our own government at every turn...

Some wealthy elitists in our country and many in our Congressional leadership, particularly from California and New England, and in the entertainment industry, including Mr. Gore, who cannot tell fact from fiction, have demonstrated an Olympian detachment from the impacts of draconian climate change policy. For them, the jobs and dreams destroyed as a result will be nothing more than the statistics and cares of other people. The consequences are abstractions to them. But, they are not to me, as I can name many of the thousands of American citizens whose lives will be destroyed by these elitists' ill-conceived "global goofiness" campaigns.
To contact authors Stella Dulanya and Peyton Knight directly,
write them at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:45 PM

Veteran Taking on Chris Matthews is Project 21's Kevin Martin

David Almasi reports on the "veteran who took on Chris Matthews" after the Matthews-Edwards "civility" debate on Hardball earlier this week, noting that the black veteran in the video that has been circulating rather vigorously on talk radio and the Internet today is none other than Project 21's Kevin Martin.

From David Almasi:
When Ann Coulter appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball" program June 26, Chris Matthews brought on Elizabeth Edwards via phone to ask Coulter to stop attacking her husband in books, columns and media appearances. Coulter refused, but she didn't fight back as hard as she could. That's where Project 21's Kevin Martin came in.

In a clip that is posted on Breitbart and was referenced by Rush Limbaugh on his June 29 show, Kevin confronts Matthews after the show is over to ask why the same criticism is not being leveled at senior Democrats in the House and Senate who are slinging the mud at the Bush Administration and impugning the integrity of our troops in Iraq in the same manner that Coulter is being called on the carpet for.

Not that The National Center defends Coulter for calling John Edwards a "faggot" at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (in fact, we were highly critical of her remarks), but those who throw stones should not be living in glass houses.

Thanks for pointing that out, Kevin. You may not have gotten on the air in "Hardball Plaza" that night, but your web coverage is probably getting better ratings!
To contact author David Almasi directly, write him at [email protected]

P.S. from Amy: For those interested, here's the transcript (paid subscription required) from Rush Limbaugh's show today:
RUSH: I want you to hear audio. There is video to this. It's available at I think and I was advised to watch this, and I did, and it's Chris Matthews being berated, if you will, by a black Army veteran after the Ann Coulter show on MSNBC earlier this week.

VETERAN: No, no, no, no, no, I want to know why politicians are off limits, but US troops are not. People who actually put on the uniform, go out and fight and die. Okay, she is calling in and complaining about one person that said something in a book. Ann Coulter is not elected to the senate, okay, John Kerry is, Dick Durbin is. Ok, and if we want apologies and personal attacks to stop.

MATHEWS: Wait, who has been attacking the soldiers?

VETERAN: Okay, let’s see, Dick Durbin has compared them to the Nazis, "Abu Ghraib is now open under new management." Okay, but our soldiers are not out there blowing them damn selves up, and I as a veteran take a genuine--

MATHEWS: So you don’t think they should have criticized Abu Ghraib?

VETERAN: No, hey, look, policy is made by civilians. Troops only do what they can.

MATHEWS: I'm going to tell you something. This administration has denied that was a policy from the top. I believe it was, you don’t agree.

VETERAN: I believe--

MATHEWS: No, you believe--

VETERAN: Wait, wait, wait. Wait a damn minute Chris, if you want to talk about policy made from the top, let’s talk about the mess made over in Rwanda.

RUSH: Rwanda. This is a black veteran and what his point was, "What are you wasting time here with Ann Coulter? You've got one person." He says, "I'm getting sick and tired, you never criticize politicians. You're always criticizing people out there, one person who wrote something in a book but you don't criticize John Kerry, you don't criticize Dick Durbin. You don't criticize anybody who's elected. Ann Coulter is not elected to the Senate." Matthews said, "Who's been attacking the soldiers?" What kind of question is that? Who's been attacking the soldiers? How about the entire Democrat Party leadership in both the House and the Senate? What do you call it when you invest in defeat? What do you call it when you say the surge is worthless, when you say that we've lost the war in Iraq, what are you doing? When you run around and impugn the integrity and the intelligence of enlisted personnel by saying, "Ah, they come from the wrong side of the tracks. That's the only place they can go to get an education. That's the only place they can go to have a future. They don't really want to be in the military," what do you do? How do you not know that the troops are being attacked by Democrats if you host a cable news show, as Chris Matthews does?

Of course this guy fired right back, "Well, Dick Durbin called the troops Nazis," and so forth, and it was Ted Kennedy who said that Abu Ghraib is now open under new management, comparing our running of Abu Ghraib to Saddam Hussein. Now, this was cool, because this is a veteran who's fed up with this kind of coverage, and he was in the audience, and he sought Matthews out after the show to give him piece of his mind. To Matthews credit he stood there and talked to him. There was a camera rolling, and I think Matthews knew it.

Kudos to Kevin Martin, I say!

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:21 PM

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Senate's Fuel Economy Standard: Incredibly Tough, Probably Impossible & Enormously Expensive

Gary Witzenburg, writing on The Car Connection, explains the difficulties car manufacturers and consumers will have if Congress adopts into law the Senate Energy Bill's requirement that Corporate Everage Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards, reach 35 mpg by 2020 for both cars and light trucks:
How hard could it be to move from today's long-established 27.5-mpg car CAFE to 35 miles per gallon, a mere 7.5-mpg (27-percent) increase?

Almost no one outside the fuel-economy business understands how incredibly tough, probably impossible, and enormously expensive that really would be. Even Toyota - whose hybrid-boosted 2006 car and truck CAFEs were 34.4 and 23.7 mpg, respectively - calls the 35-mpg standard "very aggressive" and "difficult to meet," adding that, "the time frame is too soon."

GM says that to bring all vehicles up to 35 mpg - a totally absurd 58-percent increase for light trucks, now at 22.2 mpg - represents a combined 40-percent boost that would cost more than $100 billion, "the greatest regulatory cost ever imposed on a single industry."

The only way it could come even close to happening would be to dieselize and hybridize virtually everything - at an incremental cost (not retail price) of $5000-$8000 per vehicle -and downsize trucks to where they could barely haul the content of a homeless auto worker's shopping cart. New emissions standards are making diesels way more expensive, and there's not enough battery raw material on the planet for an all-hybrid fleet...

...One very knowledgeable engineer who has worked on CAFE for many years says that to meet a 35-mpg CAFE, cars will have to average 38-39 mpg and trucks 25-28 mpg, and achieving those levels will require virtually all of both to be either diesel or gas-electric hybrid. He also points out that EPA uses "harmonic" averaging to emphasize fuel consumption (gallons per mile) rather that fuel economy (mpg), which makes CAFE compliance near-impossible for most to understand. "In CAFE math," he says, "to offset a 25-mpg vehicle to get a 35-mpg average, believe it or not, you need a car at 58.3 mpg, not 45."

...There's no question that we Americans need to consume less petroleum in everything we do (not just driving), for both balance of trade and energy security reasons, and higher fuel prices are already accelerating us down that path. But don't try to sell me the absurd notion that vehicle-emitted CO2, which is directly proportional to fuel consumption, is destroying the planet. Harmless CO2 gas amounts to just 38 of 100,000 molecules of the Earth's atmosphere and 5 percent of so-called "greenhouse" gases, just 3.3 percent of newly-generated CO2 is man-made, and only 14 percent of that comes from cars and trucks.

So let us all support improved fuel economy within the reasonable bounds of what is achievable and affordable. But let us not let auto-unfriendly, technologically ignorant politicians destroy what's left of America 's automotive industry through ridiculously expensive and probably unattainable CAFE requirements. Simply letting gas prices stay high will get it done.
It is amazing to me that a bunch of Senators who can't manage to get a fence built think they know how to engineer cars.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:37 PM

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Urban Redevelopment Commission Can't Take Curley's Diner

Owners of a beloved Stamford, Connecticut diner challenged the government's abuse of eminent domain powers to take their property and transfer it to a private development company. Despite winning in court and having the support of 7,000 residents, the diner must still endure the city government's push to have large-scale development projects built at their doorstep, surrounding the tiny restaurant.

Urban Redevelopment Commission Can't Take Curley's Diner

Greek immigrants (and sisters) Maria Aposporos and Eleni Begetis have owned Curley's Diner - a revered staple of downtown Stamford, Connecticut - since the 1960s. That almost changed in October of 1999, when Stamford Urban Redevelopment Commission (SURC) attorney Bruce Goldberg flatly told Aposporos, "We're taking your property and we're giving you $240,000 for it."

Aposporos believed SURC officials were abusing their powers of eminent domain - the government's ability to take private property for a public use - because the SURC wanted to transfer the property to Corcoran Jennison and Berkeley Partners Incorporated, a private company seeking to build an upscale 11-story apartment complex and new office space and retail stores on the Curley's Diner site. Aposporos filed a lawsuit against the SURC to keep her restaurant. In a demonstration of community support against the condemnation, nearly 7,000 Stamford area residents signed a petition protesting the SURC's plans to close the beloved diner.

In February of 2002, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of Aposporos. The city was ordered to pay over $100,000 in legal fees incurred by Aposporos and Begetis. Commenting on her victory, Aposporos said, "This is my paradise. I [still] have my view of the park, of the trees and the flowers." But not willing to admit defeat, SURC's now former executive director Laszlo Papper proclaimed, "They [Aposporos and Begetis] have the property and the [development] is going to go around it." Since the case's closing, the city hardened its push for development with a "super-block" Target retail store that opened just north of Curley's Diner. Its latest plans are to erect three buildings for 410 apartments and a 500-car parking garage on land around the diner. Aposporos says there are those in the city government "who think they can do whatever they want."

Sources: Fairfield County Weekly (April 17, 2003; May 15, 2003), Connecticut Libertarian (August 2002), Mugged by the State (Regnery, 2003, pp. 24-27), Stamford Urban Redevelopment Commission, Connecticut Post (October 13, 2004), New York Times (October 9, 2004)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:38 PM

City Destroys One Auto Business to Make Landscaping for Another

Claiming it was trying to save 4,900 area jobs, the City of Toledo, Ohio evicted 83 homeowners and 16 businesses so that carmaker DaimlerChrysler could use their condemned land to expand its manufacturing plant.

City Destroys One Auto Business to Make Landscaping for Another

In Toledo, Ohio, city officials waged a five-year campaign to oust Kim's Auto and Truck Service to accommodate the expansion of an existing DaimlerChrysler Jeep manufacturing plant.

Kim and Herman Blankenship, the owners of Kim's Auto and Truck Service, are the last remaining holdouts in the city's campaign. They are also the targets of one of the most egregious examples of eminent domain abuse because their property, if turned over to DaimlerChrysler, is expected to simply become open space.

The Blankenships steadfastly refuse to allow city officials to condemn their land, which is located on a corner lot approximately 300 yards from the manufacturing plant. Terry Lodge, the Blankenships' attorney, doesn't understand why city officials are fighting so hard to take his clients' property. Lodge said: "From the very start of planning for the manufacturing plant, the area currently occupied by Kim's Auto was designated as a landscaped green-space." Kim adds: "They just want landscape. Why uproot somebody's business for that?"

In 1999, the Blankenships and other area residents and business owners were informed by the city that 83 homes and 16 businesses were slated to be condemned under the city's power of eminent domain - the government's ability to take private property, with just compensation, for the public good. This taking was to facilitate the expansion of an existing DaimlerChrysler Jeep Plant. City officials agreed to transfer the land - approximately 160 acres - to the company to begin construction. In order to keep the manufacturing plant in Toledo, city and state officials offered Chrysler over $280 million in tax breaks and other incentives. The city also took out a $28 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to cover the costs of relocating property owners.

Lodge asks, "How can you condemn property and have it handed over to another business entity?" Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who approved the manufacturing plan, said it was necessary to maintain 4,900 jobs. Opponents of the plan, however, insist the plant's assembly line draws heavily on automated lasers and robots and will not create the spinoff jobs promised.

The dispute over the Blankenship property went to trial in September of 2002, after the manufacturing plant's addition was completed and fully operational. A Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury ruled in favor of the Blankenships, valuing their business at $104,000. Toledo's law director, Barbara Herring, applauded the jury's decision, claiming, "They've been offered a very fair value for their property." The Blankenships disagree, saying that rebuilding their business would cost nearly $500,000. In addition, Kim's clientele includes a large number of small trucks. Their current location, approximately 150 feet from Interstate 75, is an ideal location that would be extremely difficult to duplicate elsewhere. Public interest attorney Dana Berliner, who, in her study, "Public Power, Private Gain," called this ouster of property owners "one of the top ten abuses of eminent domain," has pointed out, "many, if not most, condemned businesses never reopen."

The Blankenships appealed the ruling, claiming the market value cited for their property is too low. They also continue to assert that the city is attempting to condemn their property without an appropriate public cause. The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals upheld the jury award in October of 2003, arguing that the city did not abuse its discretion in condemning the land. In their quest to keep their property, the Blankenships have enlisted the support of the Center for Study of Responsive Law, a non-profit organization of Ralph Nader. Commenting on the Blankenship case, Nader said, "The purpose of eminent domain should be for a public purpose. It should be for a bridge, a dam, a highway."

However, in October of 2004, the Supreme Court of Ohio declined to issue a stay to protect the property and refused to hear the case. The Blankenships' shop was destroyed in 2004. A subsequent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court did not provide the Blankenships any relief. An application referred to Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court for injunction pending appeal was denied in October of 2004, and the Supreme Court eventually declined to hear the Blankenships' case in August of 2005.

Sources: The Pacific Legal Foundation, The Institute for Justice, (March 7, 2002; June 4, 2004; July 15, 2005), Terry Lodge, Herman Blankenship, Associated Press (June 17, 2004; August 17, 2005)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:38 PM

Autism Research Development

A potentially significant development is announced in the autism research field.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:43 PM

Sunday, June 24, 2007

CAFE Standards Hypocrite

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was the prime sponsor of legislation adopted by the Senate Thursday that will require automakers, under Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE), to drastically increase fuel economy to 35 mpg for cars and SUVs over the next 13 years.

The measure, should it become law, will force manufacturers to make vehicles much smaller and lighter, which will make them far more dangerous places to be in the event of a collision. The bill also will result in price increases of $6,000-$7,000 per vehicle (rough estimate; this may be optimistic). Familes who need to seat more than two children are likely to pay far more, as the way the government's CAFE Standard regulations are structured forces automakers to try to sell more small vehicles than large ones. Thus, the automakers are likely to have little choice but to price small vehicles artifically low, and family-sized vehicles artificially high. Thus, families and anyone else needing a large vehicle will pay far more than $6,000-$7,000 more than they would now, not including inflation. (People who are willing to drive extremely small vehicles may get a discount; that is, maybe they will pay only a couple of thousand more.)

Keep that in mind as you consider this: Majority Leader Harry Reid drove to a news conference to promote this outrage in a Chevrolet Suburban, which gets 15 mpg. Michelle Malkin has a picture.

Apparently, Hypocrite Reid says he needs his two Suburbans for security -- his personal safety. Yet if Reid's CAFE increases are adopted, some people will die. Some will be small children and babies too small to even know the name of the branch of government that killed them, or the names of the Congressional leaders who rode in gas guzzlers to promote the bill that would push them into the unsafe mini-cars that drove them to their deaths.

I call Harry Reid a hypocrite in this post, but that really is too nice a word.

Addendum, 7/23/07: Michelle moved the post with the picture to here, and there's another one here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Global Warming Scam

Melanie Phillips has a great post on, as she puts it, "the global warming scam."

Her first sentence captures the zeitgeist surrounding the issue perfectly:
You know how we're told sixty times per minute that man-made global warming is no longer just a theory but it's now demonstrable fact, and that anyone who contradicts this is clinically insane because there's a consensus of all scientists that it's happening and only about 2.5 scientists on the entire planet disagree and they're in the pay of Big Oil anyway so we can forget about them; and so the debate is TOTALLY OVER, says the BBC, which has been told that it is authoritatively by Very Important Scientists, so that the "impartial" and "objective" BBC says that it no longer needs to give us a balanced argument about climate change because there just isn't any reputable scientific opposition to the proven facts about seas rising and ice melting and hurricanes happening, all because of the human race and its foul and filthy habits of combustibles, cars and capitalism?
For a quick guide to some of the reasons skeptics remain skeptical, visit her blog here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:39 PM

Carbon Offsets: Why Pay More?

Get your discount carbon offsets here.

(Yes, it's satire... I think!)

Speaking of carbon offsets, am I the only one irritated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plan to "green the Capitol," in part by using taxpayer money to purchase carbon offsets?

As Monisha Bansal of reports:
To reduce the amount of greenhouse gas produced, the Capitol will purchase electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar power, switch from using coal, oil and natural gas at the Capitol Power Plant to solely using natural gas, and purchase carbon "offsets" for the remaining emissions.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer -- who once was my Congressman -- says the House of Representatives alone emits as much carbon dioxide as 17,200 cars in a year.

The amount of taxpayer funds that will necessary to offset all the hot air coming from Congress could be enough to rescue Medicare.

In all seriousness, carbon offsets are a joke. Members of Congress who push energy restrictions on the rest of us while living high on the energy hog shouldn't be able to buy themselves out of their hypocrisy using our money.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:29 PM

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rising Gas Prices, Tony Soprano-Style

The Senate Finance Committee today approved $29 billion in new taxes on the oil industry. Some of the funds will be given to corn growers, who will continue to receive new taxpayer monies as long as the Iowa Caucus lives.

(If the first presidential primary were in Texas, what a different world this would be.)

The AP reports:
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said the taxes on the large oil companies - most of the provisions exempt smaller producers - "will almost certainly lead to gas price increases" as oil companies pass on the added cost. "You can't raise taxes... by $29 billion and not expect gas prices to increase," he said.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil company trade group, said in a statement that the taxes "will discourage new domestic production, discourage new investments in refinery capacity and would lead to the loss of good-paying U.S. jobs."
Interestingly, $10.7 billion in new taxes approved were a punitive measure against the oil companies because the Finance Committee is retroactively opposed to oil leasing contracts for the Gulf of Mexico the Clinton-era Interior Department signed with the oil companies in the late 1990s.

The government signs a contract -- and then extorts a $10 billion penalty because it decides later that it doesn't like the terms.

Reminds me of Tony Soprano.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:57 PM

In Detroit, All Eyes Are Fixed on Congress

Writing on, our Eric Peters examines the many challenges faced and (so far) surmounted by the Big Three domestic automakers, GM, Chrysler and Ford, in light of what may be their biggest challenge yet: A Senate energy bill that may mandate new corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards at a whopping 52 mpg level.

Eric begins:
There are three ways to find yourself in a deep hole: One is to jump in; another is to fall in. The third is to get pushed.

By an amazing trifecta of bad luck, bad decision-making and bad public policy, the U.S. auto industry finds itself in a deep pit -- with no ladder in sight...
...and ends...
If competitive shackles had not been fixed around the ankles of Detroit's Big Three, it's entirely likely that Ford would not be reeling from the biggest losses in its entire corporate history, that Chrysler would not be in "financial rehab" under the wings of a privately-held equity firm, and GM would not have dropped to a 24 percent market share and second fiddle to Toyota - which just became the world's largest automaker.

This tragedy of events -- and of almost suicidal policy-making -- is still playing out. The Senate is considering increasing CAFE standards to 52 mpg. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kit Bond (R-MO), Carl Levin (D-MI), and George Voinovich (R-OH) have proposed an alternative -- a 36-mpg standard for cars and 30-mpg for light trucks, a more than 30 percent increase over present levels.

Many -- including the Big Three domestic automakers themselves -- believe a 52-mpg standard could be one blow too many for our beleaguered domestic auto industry to survive. The automakers -- and their union -- support the Pryor-Bond-Levin-Voinovich alternative.

In Detroit these days, all eyes are fixed on Congress.
Read the entire piece on TownHall.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:38 PM

CAFE Kills, and Then Some: Six Reasons to Be Skeptical of Fuel Economy Standards

Just published in our Ten Second Response e-mail publication series, an examination of problems inherent in automotive fuel economy standards. This week, the Senate is debating an energy bill proposed by Majority Leader Harry Reid that would dramatically raise fuel economy standards to 52 miles per gallon. An alternative, crafted by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and and George Voinovich (R-OH), would raise standards for cars to 36-mpg and for light trucks, 30-mpg. The floor debate is expected to be contentious; filibusters are possible.

CAFE Kills, and Then Some: Five Reasons to Be Skeptical of Fuel Economy Standards

In 1975, Congress enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations to reduce gasoline consumption.

Current CAFE standards require an average of 27.2 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and 21.6 mpg for light trucks. As part of its debate over the Energy Bill (S.1419), the U.S. Senate is now considering raising CAFE standards to require all passenger cars and light trucks to average 52 mpg. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) have proposed an alternative increase, which would require a 36 mpg standard for cars by 2022 and 30 mpg for light trucks by 2025.

Auto and truck manufacturers and the United Auto Workers trade union support the Levin-Bond amendment, which would raise standards 31 percent for passenger cars and by 35 percent for light trucks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and others in the Democratic leadership, along with major environmental organizations, support the 52-mpg standard.

An expected reduction in gasoline usage is the most common reason cited for raising CAFE standards. It is not clear, however, that CAFE standards are particularly helpful in reducing gasoline use. Meanwhile, there are significant disadvantages to the standards, especially the harsh -- and very likely unattainable -- 52 mpg level for both cars and light trucks as proposed in the Energy Bill, which the auto manufacturers and the UAW say could possibly be a death knell to the domestic auto industry.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: CAFE standards already result in the deaths of approximately 2,000 Americans every yea, since smaller cars are less crashworthy. By failing to acknowledge this in their policymaking, Congress has cost thousands of Americans their lives. Now Congress is poised to compound the dangers by raising CAFÉ standards still further -- so much so, it may kill the domestic auto industry itself.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: CAFE standards have little impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and the environmental benefits of increasing CAFE standards are frequently overstated. Their impact on human health is more certain: CAFE standards have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths since their adoption. Furthermore, raising CAFE standards at this time -- particularly to the draconian level of 52 mpg for both cars and light trucks -- would significantly harm auto manufacturing jobs in the U.S., raise vehicle prices, and reduce vehicle choices for families and for those who use vehicles for towing and moving goods.

DISCUSSION: Opponents of increasing CAFE standards raise the following concerns:

1) Increasing mpg reduces the per-mile cost of operating vehicles, which increases the number of miles driven, thus reducing or eliminating any CAFE benefit.

Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute explain why this is the case:
Energy efficient appliances reduce the costs of operation. This might not be a big deal when it comes to, say, the television set (we won't watch more TV just because it costs a little less to turn on the set). But for appliances like air conditioners that make all the difference during peak demand periods, energy efficiency reduces the marginal cost of energy services and thus increases -- not decreases -- energy consumption. This is a well-known phenomenon called the 'rebound effect.'

The same goes for automobile fuel efficiency. Environmentalists argue that increasing the miles per gallon of the cars we drive would save more energy than increased drilling could produce. But the data show that fuel consumption goes up whenever automobile fuel efficiency goes up. Nearly all the gains in fuel efficiency disappear once we account for the demonstrable increases in driving that such investments produce.
James Taylor, editor of the Heartland Institute's Environment News, cites supportive data:
[USA Today columnist John] Merline noted people drive their vehicles more when increased fuel economy makes the price per mile cheaper. "The number of miles driven by passenger cars and light trucks climbed 104 percent between 1975 and 2000, according to the Department of Transportation," noted Merline.

A 2001 study conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) reached the same conclusion. According to the NRC, CAFE "reduces the fuel cost per mile of driving, thereby encouraging faster growth in vehicle travel than would otherwise be the case."

"NHTSA neglects the adverse effects from the increased driving induced by the proposal," agreed Randall Lutter and Troy Kravitz in a February 2003 study released by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. "By lowering the costs of driving, NHTSA's proposal increases vehicle miles traveled, thereby boosting traffic accidents and congestion. The increase in the costs of accidents and congestion fully offsets and probably outweighs the social benefits resulting from greater fuel economy."
Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2001, Kimberly A. Strassel observed, "[s]ince 1970, the United States has made cars almost 50% more efficient; in that period of time, the average number of miles a person drives has doubled."

2) CAFE standards are dangerous. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences released a report, "Effectiveness and Impact of CAFE Standards 2002," concluding that since CAFE standards were imposed in the U.S. in 1975, an additional 2,000 deaths per year can be attributed to the downsizing of cars required to meet CAFE standards.

In 2001, Charli E. Coon, J.D. of the Heritage Foundation wrote:
The evidence is overwhelming that CAFE standards result in more highway deaths. A 1999 USA TODAY analysis of crash data and estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that, in the years since CAFE standards were mandated under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, about 46,000 people have died in crashes that they would have survived if they had been traveling in bigger, heavier cars. This translates into 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained by the standards.
3) CAFE increases are less likely to reduce gas consumption than are gas tax increases: In a 2002 essay published in the Los Angeles Times, the Cato Institute's William A. Niskanen and Peter Van Doren noted, "since the CAFE standards were introduced, the average fuel economy has increased by 114% for new cars and by 56% for new light trucks, but the U.S. consumption of imported oil has increased from 35% to 52%." Niskanen and Van Doren recommended that if reducing gas consumption is the goal, an increased gasoline tax is more likely to get the job done: "In contrast to a tax on gasoline, CAFE standards are an imperfect and inefficient method of signaling drivers about the true costs of the gasoline that they consume."

The Congressional Budget office took a similar view:
This issue brief focuses on the economic costs of CAFE standards and compares them with the costs of a gasoline tax that would reduce gasoline consumption by the same amount. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a 10 percent reduction in gasoline consumption could be achieved at a lower cost by an increase in the gasoline tax than by an increase in CAFE standards. Furthermore, an increase in the gasoline tax would reduce driving, leading to less traffic congestion and fewer accidents. This analysis stops short of estimating the value of less congestion and fewer accidents and, therefore, does not draw any conclusions about whether an increase in the gasoline tax would be warranted. However, CBO does find that, given current estimates of the value of decreasing dependence on oil and reducing carbon emissions, increasing CAFE standards would not pass a benefit-cost test.
4) CAFE standard increases will harm domestic automakers and employment in the domestic auto industry. As National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow Eric Peters writes:
The legislation differs from previous fuel economy standards in that it would apply to both passenger cars and "light trucks" -- a category of vehicle that includes pick-ups, SUVs and minivans -- and which has up to now been held to a separate (and less stringent) fuel economy standard of 21.5-mpg vs. 27.5-mpg for passenger cars.

As a result, Markey-Platts [legislation to increase CAFÉ standards] would disproportionately hurt American car companies, which have their profit centers in large pick-ups and SUVs -- while giving a competitive leg-up to imports, which make most of their money selling smaller, inherently more economical passenger cars.

It's much easier to tweak the design of a compact or mid-sized front-wheel-drive passenger car with a four or six-cylinder engine that already gets 32 mpg to the 35 mpg mark than it is to get a full-size, V-8 powered truck or SUV from 20-something mpg to 35 mpg. Thus, the impact of the Markey-Platts bill will hurt American car companies most where they are especially vulnerable -- at a time when they can least afford another legislative knee-capping.

GM, Ford and Chrysler have all posted alarming losses recently, even as the quality and appeal of their vehicles has been on the upswing. Hitting them with a 35-mpg fuel economy edict would have the same effect as sucker punching someone already laid low by the flu.
Furthermore, more stringent CAFÉ standards will make new cars more expensive, which will depress sales generally.

5) Some individuals, families and businesses need the large vehicles a CAFÉ standard increase will tend to drive out of the market for towing or storage capacity or simply to transport their families. Laws requiring parents to transport children -- in some states, children up to eight years of age -- in approved child safety seats effectively reduces available seating in the back seat of most small (and many mid-sized) sedans to two persons. For safety reasons, transporting a third child in the front seat is inappropriate in most vehicles, and is illegal in some areas, making larger vehicles all but mandatory for many families with children.

6) The argument that increasing CAFE standards will reduce global warming is grossly overstated. Even if greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities are significantly, and harmfully, raising global temperatures, which remains a subject of debate, increasing CAFÉ standards would have scant impact. As Charli E. Coon, J.D., of the Heritage Foundation has written:
Nor will increasing CAFE standards halt the alleged problem of "global warming." Cars and light trucks subject to fuel economy standards make up only 1.5 percent of all global man-made greenhouse gas emissions. According to data published in 1991 by the Office of Technology Assessment, a 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards would reduce greenhouse emissions by only about 0.5 percent, even under the most optimistic assumptions.

U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI):
Unfortunately, many people in Washington have a misguided focus on increasing arbitrary fuel economy standards, known as CAFE. Expanding CAFE is a plan for plenty of economic pain but almost no environmental gain. By 2012, the world is projected to produce nearly 32 billion metric tons per year of carbon dioxide. The U.S. contribution to that will be about 6 1/2 billion metric tons. If CAFE standards were increased by 4% per year, as some are proposing, the U.S. contribution would be reduced by only about 5 million metric tons. That’s a measly one-tenth of one percent of the U.S. contribution.

Because of the way CAFE is structured, it is highly discriminatory against U.S. companies and workers. It pushes consumers from U.S. vehicles to foreign-made vehicles that have the same fuel efficiency. With our automakers already facing trade barriers and an uneven international playing field, imposing on them the discriminatory features of the CAFE structure costs America jobs without improving the environment.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger:
“Consumers want more fuel-efficient cars and we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But workers are part of the environment too, and drastic proposals which destabilize our industry won’t do anyone much good in the long run.”
Sam Kazman, General Counsel, Competitive Enterprise Institute:
The end result will be enormous hardships, borne ultimately by consumers. We will end up with vehicles that cost more and perform less.

Safety will suffer as well. One of the less publicized findings of the National Research Council's 2002 CAFE study is that the program, through its downsizing effect on vehicles, already contributes to about 2,000 traffic deaths per year. That toll will only get worse if CAFE is made more stringent.

Advocates of higher CAFE duck this issue by claiming that new technologies eliminate the need for a trade-off between fuel economy and safety. This claim is false. If you take the most high-tech car imaginable and add a hundred pounds to it, two things will happen. Its fuel economy will drop, and its crashworthiness will increase. In short, there will still be a trade-off.
Ben Lieberman, Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation
Beyond safety concerns, there is also the issue of consumer choice. A variety of smaller but more fuel-efficient models are already on the market for those who want them. In other words, there is no market failure justifying federal intervention. The car-buying public does not want or need Washington stepping in and forcing these smaller vehicles on everyone."
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute
After dead motorists, the biggest losers from higher standards would be Americans who prefer large vehicles to carry families, equipment, and pets on daily trips or long vacations.

Other major losers would be the domestic car manufacturers, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, who have invested in plants that make large sedans and light trucks, Americans' preference. The industry is already restructuring to try to reduce labor costs; higher CAFE standards would be its nail in the coffin...

If energy security is the rationale for CAFE standards, America needs to increase domestic coal and natural gas production, find out whether potential supplies of oil exist in Alaska, invest in more refinery capacity, and build nuclear power plants. We've done none of these."
The Center for Individual Freedom:
As always, this government folly will result in even higher gas and automobile prices, as well as decreased auto safety, for consumers...

The more fundamental problem with the regulations, however, is that they simply don't work. The CAFE system was imposed in 1975 as a response to the oil embargo, but America today imports an even greater portion of foreign oil than it did then...

On the other hand, these mandates will put American automakers at even greater competitive disadvantage, because Japanese and other foreign competitors will be better able to adapt to the new standards. As it is, the American Big Three are hemorrhaging losses, shuttering manufacturing plants and laying off thousands of American employees.

What a deal -- more losses by the Big Three, more layoffs and higher gas and car prices...

Unfortunately, ailing automakers and gas suppliers simply present too soft a boogeyman, and feel-good environmental platitudes too easy a justification. With the White House apparently surrendering, it is now up to American consumers and voters to resist this counterproductive policy before we suffer additional damage."

National Center for Public Policy Research Fuel Economy Information Center here

Eric Peters, National Center for Public Policy Research National Policy Analysis #556, "No to New Fuel Economy Standards: Consumer Choice, Not Congress, Should Drive Detroit's Decisionmaking," June 2007, available here

Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards, the National Academies Press, 2002, available

Ben Lieberman, Heritage Foundation WebMemo #1506, "S. 1419: Bad News for Any Energy Consumer, June 13, 2007, available here

The Coalition for Individual Freedom's Free My Ride website news center here

United Auto Workers press release, June 15, 2007 available here

Transcript of press conference by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Kit Bond (R-MO) on CAFE standards, June 14, 2007, available here

by Amy Ridenour and Peyton Knight

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:57 PM

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bush Administration Law of the Sea Treaty Defense Inaccurate

Husband David has a letter in today's Washington Times. It corrects factual errors in a June 13 op-ed by deputy secretary of state John Negroponte and deputy secretary of defense Gordon England defending the Bush Administration's decision to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Said David:
The op-ed by John D. Negroponte and Gordon England "Reap the bounty," (Wednesday) contained a number of inaccuracies.

They state that by assigning responsibility for maritime zones, the treaty would improve protections for the environment. It could do just the opposite. It requires, for example, that nations either harvest their entire allowable catch in certain areas or give the surplus to other nations. Such a use it or lose it policy is reminiscent of federal grazing policy, which until recently required ranchers to use their forage rights or lose them. Because ranchers lacked the flexibility to remove cattle for extended periods, overgrazing resulted.

Mr. Negroponte and Mr. England also suggest that ratification is needed to have legal certainty of such maritime rights as "innocent passage." They're wrong in two ways: Such rights already exist under the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea, and the treaty governs the behavior of signatories -- currently numbering more than 150 nations -- regardless of whether the United States accedes to the treaty.

Finally, they suggest the treaty would bolster U.S. national security. Instead, it would complicate some of these efforts by subjecting certain actions to judgment by an international tribunal.

The Law of the Sea treaty should be scuttled.

Vice President
The National Center for Public Policy Research
It is interesting to me that we haven't heard any environmental organizations speaking out against the possibility of United Nations-mandated overfishing, as David warns could happen under Law of the Sea.

Go here here for lots more reasons to worry about the Bush Administration's perplexing support for the Law of the Sea Treaty.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 PM

Black Conservatives Mark "Juneteenth" Civil Rights Holiday

Project 21 is commemorating Juneteenth:
Black Conservatives Mark "Juneteenth" Civil Rights Holiday

Members of the Project 21 black leadership network are asking that the oldest and most recognized commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States - "Juneteenth," observed on June 19 - be used as a day for reflection on the struggle for freedom and the ongoing quest for self-empowerment.

Project 21 members urge black Americans to use this day to embrace their inherent talents and strengthen their ties with family and community for the betterment of themselves and future generations.

"The abolishment of slavery paved the way for blacks to empower themselves and opened the doors for freedom and opportunities," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "Juneteenth celebrations are a reminder to all that freedom is never free."

Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. The soldiers carried with them the news that the Civil War was over and that slavery was abolished through President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation two-and-a-half years earlier.

The annual commemoration of this date, which became known as Juneteenth, quickly became a stabilizing as well as a motivating presence in the lives of the African-Americans who lived in Texas and faced the many uncertainties associated with their newly acquired freedom. The observance quickly spread from Texas to become recognized in black communities across the United States.

Juneteenth is celebrated in diverse ways, but over the years, education and self-improvement have been consistent themes at commemorative community gatherings and picnics. In 1980, Juneteenth was made an official holiday in Texas. According to the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, 25 states currently recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday and it has been recognized by President George W. Bush in special presidential messages.

Project 21 member Murdock "Doc" Gibbs, a Texas resident, said: "June 19, 1865 was a turning point for the black people of Texas. It was a recognition of the equality between them and their former white masters. We must continue as a people to shake off the modern slave masters that threaten our families, our communities and our future - the slave masters of drugs, illegitimacy, family breakdown, poor education and crime. We can use this important holiday to remind us that we are the masters of our own destiny and hold the keys to our own survival through the choices we make."


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:25 PM

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gas 'Price Gouging' Bill Helps Politicians, Not Consumers

The House of Representatives-approved gasoline "price gouging" bill will provide no gas price relief to consumers, says Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli, in an op-ed published by GOPUSA:
As the summer driving season begins, consumer complaints and media hype over high gasoline prices have compelled political opportunists in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the "Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act." The Act would punish anyone found guilty of so-called "price gouging." Regrettably, Congress' latest attempt to solve an economic issue is at best shameless political grandstanding and at worst bad public policy that will only lead to higher gasoline prices and more consumer outrage.

The legislation seeks to address the symptom of high prices but not the underlying cause. Gasoline prices are high today because of high crude oil prices, government regulations and refinery limitations, not price gouging. According to the Energy Information Administration, there are approximately 149 refineries in the U.S. delivering gasoline to approximately 168,987 retail stations. Refineries have an enormous responsibility in meeting market demands for gasoline and have specific processes in place when crude oil is received, refined and delivered to retail.

Crude oil prices fluctuate depending on supply interruptions caused by international events, pipeline leaks, natural disasters and, now that summer is approaching, the switchover that many regions must undergo from using gasoline formulated for winter to special "boutique" summer blends in order to comply with environmental regulations. The U.S. hasn't built any new refineries in over 30 years, and existing refineries are running at full capacity. While refineries operate under inflexible capacity limitations, they must also shut down for routine maintenance. This all affects crude oil refining schedules and the available supply of gasoline for retail outlets. The basic law of supply and demand cannot be ignored.

Rather than address these problems, the Act seeks to frighten service station owners into limiting the price they charge their customers for gas, which in turn, could threaten the very ability of service stations to provide gasoline. Independent service station owners are small businessmen and women who incur significant expenses when paying for product and costs passed along by refineries, vendors and distributors, as well as rent, salaries, utility bills and taxes. When service station owners are unable to include a profit margin when setting prices, it can become impossible for them to stay in business. In fact, some service station owners recently refused to sell gasoline because doing so would be a losing proposition. Should the number of service stations decline, longer lines for scarcer product could commence, all leading to even higher gasoline prices.

This legislation slaps an absurdly arbitrary definition on "price gouging," which, coupled with the threat of fines and jail time, could prevent service stations from properly responding to market conditions. Some in Congress and the media thrive on charged terms like "price gouging" that further incite disgruntled consumers, who unfortunately, see individual service stations as the problem.

Apparently, many congressmen want to ignore the findings of recent federal investigations into price gouging. Following the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, gasoline prices remained high across the country, so the Federal Trade Commission investigated the issue. The agency found no evidence of price gouging, only the laws of supply and demand.

If Congress was serious about keeping prices low, it would do everything in its power to expand supply (or at least stop choking it off) and permit oil exploration in ANWR, the Outer Continental Shelf and other promising reserves. It would also promote the expansion of refinery capacity to process more crude oil and to allow the free market to determine the price consumers are willing to pay for gasoline. In essence, help by getting out of the way.

Crude oil prices, seasonality, refinery capacity and consumer demand determine the price at the pump. "Price gouging" is a political term used by elected officials to appeal to the public and increase government power over the private sector. Price gouging legislation only fuels politicians' need for more control and publicity, leaving consumers with high gas prices and limited supplies.
Read it online here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 AM

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is Caterpillar Going Green or Losing Green?

That's the question CNBC asked Wednesday, as Senior Fellow Tom Borelli took to the airwaves to discuss the letter 70 organizations sent to Caterpillar, asking CEO James Owens to withdraw the corporation from the United States Climate Action Partnership lobbying campaign in favor of new and costly "cap and trade" energy-restriction regulations.

Tom, who in a separate capacity serves as portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, warned that Caterpillar is "going to hurt their profits" and "harm the U.S. economy... by going green, they are turning their customers red."

Tyson Slocum of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen joined the program to counter Tom, largely by arguing, without offering a shred of evidence, that it is "smart business" for major U.S. corporations to help left-wing environmentalists lobby Congress for restrictions on their own activities.

Karl Marx once said, "The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope."

Marx was wrong. The last capitalist to be hanged shall be the one who donated the rope, and then lobbied for his own hanging.

Mr. Slocum described environmentalism's goals very well, though, when he admitted: "...the entire economy is going to have to be focused on adjusting to regulations that deal with climate change."

The entire economy.

Mull that over.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:37 AM

Health Care Rationing, Government-Style

Writing on his excellent personal blog, David Hogberg compares the myths promoted by advocates of government health care systems with the realities in nations that have such systems, noting that a half million Britons have now been told they will have to quit smoking for at least four weeks if they want certain surgeries.

I guess the British government bureaucrats who make decisions on behalf of British doctors and patients believe quitting smoking is easy enough that a person facing surgery will be able to quit, even when that person is probably feeling an unsual amount of stress. (Funny, the activists here claim smoking is addictive.)

Either that, or it is just another government health care excuse for delaying surgeries.

Britain's government-run health care system has already banned some surgeries for women weighing over 168 pounds, and men weighing over 210. In that circumstance, the government has pretty much admitted the motive is saving money, prompting an indignant Scotsman newspaper editorialist, Dana Garavelli, to write: "Fat people pay taxes, too."

So do smokers, I believe.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:43 AM

Global Warming Alarmism and Religion - Together at Last?

From Peyton Knight:
This is a summary report from last Thursday's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing titled, "An Examination of the Views of Religious Organizations Regarding Global Warming."

In her opening statement, committee chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said that "Evangelical Christians, Catholics, African Methodist Episcopals, Jews, mainline Protestant Christians, and many other people of faith see the need for action on global warming as a moral, ethical, and scriptural mandate." The clear implication being that the religious community, by and large, was of one mind on the issue.

She then laid out her "vision" of "lush forests teeming with wildlife," clean air, clean water, and various other illustrative descriptions of nature at its best, as well as the United States taking the lead in promoting a "new green economy."

She invoked her own grandson and future grandson for the cause, saying that we all need to save nature for them and other children.

She concluded by quoting "ancient religious writings," saying: "See to it that you do not destroy my world, for there is no one to repair it after you." (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13)

In his opening statement before the committee, ranking minority member Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) pointed out that Sen. Boxer's committee had conducted "hearing after hearing after hearing on global warming. But we have yet to have legislative hearings on the climate bills that are supposedly the reason for this endless parade of hearings."

Sen. Inhofe also noted that the Congressional Budget Office had recently released a report titled "Trade-Offs in Allocating Allowances for CO2 Emissions" that found a carbon dioxide allocation scheme would disproportionately harm the poor. The Senator referred such a scheme as "Robin Hood" in reverse.

Inhofe cited a quote from Barrett Duke, Vice President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who cautioned that we should avoid global warming policies that "make the delivery of electricity to [undeveloped countries] more difficult, millions of people will be condemned to more hardship, more disease, shorter lives and more poverty."

Inhofe also took on one of the chief evangelical global warming alarmists, Rev. Richard Cizik, noting that Cizik also "shares the beliefs of liberals on the issue of population control." According to Inhofe, Cizik told the World Bank in May 2006: "I'd like to take on the population issue... We need to confront population control and we can - we're not Roman Catholics after all - but it's too hot to handle now."

The Senator then offered his own Biblical perspective regarding global warming, saying that we "should respect creation and be wise stewards, but we must be careful not to fall into the trap of secular environmentalists who believe man is an afterthought on this Earth."

For good measure, he quoted Romans 1:25: "They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God who will be praised forever. Amen."

Below are the summary views of the panelists who testified at the hearing.

*The Most Reverend Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church

According to Dr. Schori: "The crisis of climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to the goodness, interconnectedness, and sanctity of the world God created and loves."

She implored the committee to make cutting carbon emissions by 15 to 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 a "national priority."

Dr. Schori testified that poverty kills 30,000 people in the world each day, and, according to her: "We cannot triumph over global poverty, however, unless we also address climate change, as the two phenomena are intimately related. Climate change exacerbates global poverty, and global poverty propels climate change."

As for mitigating the detrimental effects of global warming policies (i.e., skyrocketing energy prices) on the poorest among us, Dr. Schori recommends adjusting tax policies "to encourage middle and low income taxpayers to take advantage of new technologies or to adjust to potentially higher energy costs." She also suggests throwing more money at the "Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program" (LIHEAP) and expanding the program to pull more households under its umbrella.

*John L. Carr, Secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Channeling his inner Al Gore, Mr. Carr stated that "our response to climate change will be a measure of our moral leadership as a nation."

He said that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops accepts the United Nations' IPCC report on climate change, but pointed out that "for us, this began with Genesis, not Earth Day." He also boldly declared: "If we harm the atmosphere we harm God's creation."

In his testimony, Carr also stated that: "We do not have to know everything to know that human activity is contributing to significant changes in the climate with serious consequences for both the planet and for people, especially those who are poor and vulnerable." To this, he added, "prudence tells us that we know that when a problem is serious and worsening, it is better to act now." (So much for looking before you leap.)

Borrowing more from Al Gore, Mr. Carr told the committee that the real "inconvenient truth" is that those who contribute least to global warming will be hurt the most.

*Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D, Evangelical Climate Initiative

Dr. Ball confidently declared that "human induced climate change is real," and the "science is settled." Sparing no hyperbole, he called global warming the "major relief and development problem of the 21st Century," and claimed that because of it, "millions are threatened with death."

He stated that "Christian moral convictions demand our response" to global warming, and the response that he supports is a "cap-and-trade" approach.

For good measure, Dr. Ball invoked "the great lawgiver" Moses' call to "choose life" as reason for Christians to embrace the global warming regulatory agenda. The agenda his organization embraces is reducing U.S. CO2 emissions 80 percent below year 2000 levels by the year 2050. He said that this target must not be voluntary, but mandatory.

He also implored "all churches" to teach their members about the threat of global warming.

*Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

According to Rabbi Saperstein: "The urgency of climate change mixed with our strong scriptural mandates have connected our faiths and compelled us to act in unison to forge an answer to our climate crisis." (Consensus, anyone?)

He cited the "Evangelical 'What Would Jesus Drive?' campaign aimed at raising the moral concerns about fuel economy" and the "Jewish community's 'How Many Jews Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?'" campaign that "mobilized synagogues to install over 50,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs during this past Hanukkah."

Rabbi Saperstein says "we must transform ourselves from nature's children to nature's guardians by learning to say 'dai,' 'enough,' to ourselves." He claims that this includes challenging the "fever of consumption that drives unsustainable economic growth," as well as challenging "public officials who deify property and wealth."

*Dr. Russel D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Breaking from his global warming alarmist co-panelists, and perhaps taking umbrage with their not-so-subtle implications that the religious community speaks with one voice on the matter of global warming, Dr. Moore stated that not all evangelicals are united in using the Bible to promote the policies of the "secular environmentalist movement." (Apparently, the art of crafting the perception of consensus where consensus doesn't exist has made its way from alarmists in the scientific community to those in the religious realm.)

Dr. Moore stated that "tying Bible verses to any specific legislation on global warming" was harmful to the public interest. Additionally, he was troubled by the "apocalyptic scenarios" conjured by some evangelicals with regard to global warming and the future of the planet.

According to Dr. Moore, "The theological impetus for environmental concern on the part of Southern Baptists and like-minded evangelicals is, however, the very reason Christians are opposed to the use of religion employed by some environmental activists on the global warming issue. The first area of concern is that the Biblical text not be used as a vehicle for a political agenda."

He denounced the "hyper-politicization of the gospel," and noted, "Southern Baptists and other evangelicals must question the effect of any global warming legislation on the world's poor."

Dr. Moore closed his testimony, stating: "The SBC and other like-minded evangelical groups are not opposed to environmental protection. We have no pronouncements on what Jesus would drive... We are, however, concerned about the ways in which religious arguments are used in this debate, possibly with harmful consequences both for public policy and for the mission of the church."

*Rev. Dr. Jim Tonkowich, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy

Dr. Tonkowich declared: "Thank God for the skeptics."

His testimony addressed two primary concerns: "The first is the positive valuation of human population and human development. The second is the importance on not foreclosing prudential debates that should remain open."

Dr. Tonkowich cited a recent quote by National Association of Evangelicals Vice President Richard Cizik in Newsweek, in which Cizik said that he felt God is saying "with my help, you can restore Eden."

According to Tonkowich, "The thought is tempting, the sound-bite attractive, but Biblically and theologically, it's pure nonsense."

He also lamented that "population control" is beginning to creep into the thinking of some Christians. "For example," Tonkowich observes, "the foundational document of the Evangelical Environmental Network states that environmental 'degradations are signs that we are pressing against the finite limits God has set for creation. With continued population growth, these degradations will become more severe.'"

Tonkowich noted: "Population control, which nearly always includes abortion on demand, is abhorrent to most Evangelical and Catholic Christians."

"And if the truth be told," he testified, "Population growth slows in more technologically advanced societies. So even if we wanted to slow population growth, the most humane way to do that would be to seek the greatest economic benefit for the poor. And in order to do that we must make sufficient quantities of inexpensive energy available to the global poor - something believers in catastrophic global warming are unwilling to do."

Included in his testimony is "an appendix listing scientists with relevant expertise who do not see the evidence that the current warming is primarily caused by humans and catastrophic."

*Mr. David Barton, Author and Historian

Mr. Barton, named by Time Magazine as one of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America," stated that "a very accurate rendering of [Evangelicals'] general theological position is presented in the Cornwall Declaration."

He noted that "while more than 100 religious leaders signed onto the Evangelical Climate Initiative's statement on global warming, some 1,500 religious leaders signed onto the Cornwall Declaration that reached quite different conclusions."

"From the beginning," he said, "God warned about elevating nature and the environment over man and his Creator."

Mr. Barton tallied a list of examples where, after "announcing strong conclusions," environmental science had reversed itself, including: the supposed benefits of fetal tissue research, the doomsday "global population bomb" prognostication and the unfounded "harm to humans from DDT." He said that these examples, along with the predictions of a "coming ice age" 30 years ago, were justification for a healthy dose of skepticism.

In conclusion, Barton stated: "Currently, I do not find any substantial widespread movement within the mainstream Evangelical community to support a massive policy proposal on Global Warming that would significantly alter their current lifestyle, or that might inflict additional burdens on the poor and even potentially confine them permanently to a state of poverty. I therefore urge extreme caution in any approach that this body might take in crafting any policy on this issue."
To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wynton C. Hall's Speechwriter Anecdote: Here's Hoping His Source Made It Up

Writing in the Examiner, Wynton C. Hall shares an anecdote that, if true, reveals a breathtaking level of incompetence at the White House, not just in what it says about the staffer in question, but about the hiring process there:
...why can’t this White House get its oratorical act together? One explanation might lie with Bush’s current speechwriters. At a recent social gathering, I spoke to one woman who told me a story that would send a shiver up a speechwriter’s spine.

While chatting with one of Bush’s newly installed speechwriters, the woman said she mentioned how much she loved President Ronald Reagan’s “Pointe du Hoc” speech, delivered on cliffs overlooking Normandy Beach. The young new presidential wordsmith looked at the woman with a quizzical look. The presidential speech writer confessed to being unfamiliar with the speech but was looking forward to reading it.
Indulge me.

Open Letter to Young New Presidential Wordsmith:
Dear Young (may I call you "Young"?),

What fantastic circumstances placed you at the very top of the speechwriting profession while leaving you ignorant of what is most sublime of the profession itself? "I wasn't born then" can be no excuse for mediocrity. Where you born when Lincoln gave his Second Inaugural, or the Gettysburg Address? When Patrick Henry spoke before the Virginia House of Burgesses? The day after the date which shall life in infamy? When Marc Antony ulogized Caesar?

Young, I beg you, learn your craft. If you haven't read or watched those speeches (or what history records of them) and many, many others; if the words "blood, toil, tears and sweat," sound like the name of a rock group to you, take a leave of absence. Learn the history and art of your profession. Learn how Reagan used the imagery of D-Day in his Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach speeches on June 6, 1984 to inspire the allies of that day to persevere in the battle of freedom versus Soviet tyranny. Help our President also evoke our shared history, values and aspirations, as we fight the crusade before us now.

With sincerity,

Amy Ridenour

P.S. The text of the Point du Hoc speech is here; the text of the Omaha Beach speech is here. It's better to watch them as well; the Omaha Beach speech is here; I haven't been able to find a video of the Point du Hoc speech online.
Wynton Hall makes several other points. I agree especially about Bush 41 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The American people are still owed a big party (something modeled on this, perhaps?) to celebrate the end of the Cold War. Is the Cold War the only major conflict ever concluded without a commemoration party? Possibly. At the very least, we should have an annual day of commemoration (I nominate November 9), preferably without time off work. We best honor our successes by building upon them.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:47 AM

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Caterpillar Hurting Poor, Coalition Says

In a project spearheaded by the National Center for Public Policy Research on the eve of the Caterpillar corporation's stockholders meeting, 70+ groups and companies have sent a letter to Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens urging him to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from the United States Climate Action Partnership.

USCAP is a coalition of environmental groups and major corporations seeking to impose a cap-and-trade system on carbon dioxide emissions.

The letter says capping carbon emissions would harm two groups disproportionately: The poor and Caterpillar stockholders.

Among the signers of the letter are former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, III and former U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY).

The letter is also signed by representatives of the mining, ranching, forestry, construction and agricultural industries - industries upon which Caterpillar depends for sales. Among them are Murray Energy Corporation, Jicarilla Mining District, Griffith Lumber Company, Korman Ranch, Jerrell's Excavating, Red River Coal Company and Ontario Hardwood Company.

Bob Murray, founder and president of Murray Energy Corporation, in his own letter to Caterpillar earlier this year, chided the company for allying with environmental groups that "have been attempting to terminate the use of coal for decades."

Murray's firm has stopped doing business with Caterpillar as a result: “Caterpillar has joined with some of the most radical environmentalists who have been enemies of mining, including coal, for decades… As a result of this, I sent [Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens] a letter a couple of months ago telling him that Murray Energy Corporation will no longer do business with Caterpillar. This will result in the loss of millions of dollars in business to Caterpillar.”

In addition to The National Center for Public Policy Research, think tanks and policy organizations that have signed the letter include: the American Conservative Union, the Congress of Racial Equality, FreedomWorks, Coalitions for America, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the National Legal and Policy Center, Frontiers of Freedom, Illinois Policy Institute, 60 Plus, the Rio Grande Foundation, the National Tax Limitation Committee, the Capital Research Center, the Ethan Allan Institute, the Property Rights Foundation of America, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty, the Maryland Taxpayers Association, Tradition Family Property Inc., the Grassroot Institute of Hawai, the John Locke Foundation, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Iowa Wednesday Group, the American Property Coalition, the American Land Rights Association, the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, Taxpayers for Accountable Government, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the Thomas More Institute, the American Policy Center, RenewAmerica, the United Republican Fund and others.

The letter cites a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in April that found that the oil, gas and coal industries would be particularly harmed by cap-and-trade legislation.

"A cap designed to reduce emissions by 23 percent would result in a 54 percent devaluation of coal stock value and a 40 percent decline in coal production," notes the letter, quoting from the CBO report.

The CBO report also found that the poor would be disproportionately harmed by a cap and trade system, indicating that a cap designed to reduce emissions by just 15% would cost the poorest fifth of Americans nearly double what it would cost the wealthiest fifth of Americans, as a percentage of wages, in added energy costs.

"Regardless of how the allowances [for carbon dioxide emissions] were distributed," the CBO report states, "most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline."

Husband David, our VP, says: "Caps on carbon emissions will force energy companies to cut production, ultimately hurting Caterpillar's bottom line. They will also result in higher energy prices, hurting the poor. I'm tempted to say that Caterpillar has something against the poor, but it must actually love them. Why else would Caterpillar be seeking to increase the poors' ranks by adding its own employees and stockholders? When Caterpillar President James Owens has presided over the destruction of the oil, mining, timber and agricultural industries, what product will it have to sell then? Emissions credits? This is one of the questions stockholders should ask him when they meet tomorrow."

For a copy of the letter, go to:

To read what others are saying about Caterpillar's participation in USCAP, including representatives from the mining, forestry and construction industries, as well as from policy groups, go to:

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:12 PM

Monday, June 11, 2007

Health Insurance is Not Health Care

David Hogberg reminds politicians of something they should already know in an op-ed in the Washington Times today:
Politicians and pundits lump the terms "health care" and "health insurance" together as though they are the same thing. For example, Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, recently said, "One in 6 Americans does not have access to health care. And in my home state of Montana, an even greater percentage of people have limited access to health care: 1 in 5 Montanans lack health insurance."

In reality, however, health care and health insurance are quite different. Health care is the products and services used for the prevention, treatment and management of illness. Health insurance, on the other hand, is a way of paying for health care. Specifically, it is an agreement whereby the insurer pays for the health care costs of the insured.

Believing health care and health insurance are the same thing easily leads to some mistaken, if not dangerous, notions. It leads to the beliefs that (1) universal health care and universal health insurance are the same; and (2) that if a nation has universal health insurance, where the government pays for every citizen's health care, that nation will have universal health care, where citizens will have ready access to health care whenever they need it. As the experience of other nations shows, however, universal health insurance often leads to very restricted access to health care...
David goes on to give examples of people in countries with universal health insurance who had to do without health care -- sometimes with fatal results. He concludes:
As the debate over the future of the U.S. health-care system proceeds, it is important that we -- and especially lawmakers who will craft health policy -- understand the very real difference between health care and health insurance. It is vital we realize universal health insurance is not the same as universal health care. Universal health insurance provided by the government leads to rationing of health care that has adverse impacts on health, including death. Thus, we should be highly skeptical of politicians promising to improve our health care system with universal health insurance.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:48 PM

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Children Banned from Private School Sports Teams

High school athletics regulators in Maine banned two home-schooled students from a private school's track and cross-country teams, requiring them to join their local public school's athletics program to compete.

Children Banned from Participating in Private Schools' Sports Teams

Students Douglas and Laura Pelletier, who are home-schooled, participated in the track and cross-country teams at Seacoast Christian School. But Douglas and Laura's future in interscholastic sports was threatened when the Maine Principals' Association (MPA) selectively prevented home-schooled students from playing for private schools' athletic teams.

Under Maine state law, home-schooled children are allowed to play on the teams of both public and private schools. In November of 2002, however, MPA executive director Richard Durost issued a memorandum to MPA member schools, which comprise all of Maine's public schools and many private schools, that said a private school would jeopardize its eligibility to compete with other MPA schools if home-schooled children played on its athletic teams. Although this conflicted with state law, Durost and the MPA were steadfast in enforcing the new ban. As the MPA regulates high school interscholastic extracurricular activities in Maine, a school's sports program could be significantly impaired if it violated an MPA policy.

In March of 2003, the Home School Legal Defense Association filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine in Portland, Maine on behalf of the Pelletiers and other Maine home schoolers, arguing that home-schooled children should be allowed to participate in high school sports at private schools. In May of 2003, a judge ruled against the family, forcing the children to go through their local public school if they want to take part in interscholastic sports. The judge ruled that the family's right to choose private education was not burdened because they had the option to enroll in private or public schools if their children wanted to participate in sports. The Pelletiers have not appealed the decision.

In a letter to the MPA, the Home School Legal Defense Association pinpointed what it believed the issue had always been about: a desire "to give public schools a monopoly on homeschool students who are also athletes."

Source: Home School Legal Defense Association

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:53 AM

Friday, June 08, 2007

NAACP Downsizing Because It's a Dinosaur

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie is scoffing at the NAACP's explanation for its financial woes, reports Randy Hall at
Massie laid much of the blame for the NAACP's financial problems on Julian Bond, director of the organization's board of directors. Bond, he said, 'can find no good thing in society today and still asserts that America is living in the Jim Crow past when nothing could be further from the truth.''At the same time, they're not addressing the very real ills in the black community: out-of-control abortion, which amounts to nothing more than black genocide; out-of-control single-parent households; out-of-control black-on-black crime; and out-of-control disrespectful, misogynistic behavior directed toward women in rap music,' Massie said.'Instead, they are stuck in the antediluvian mantra of days past where 'white people are out to get us.' And that is wearing thin,' he said.
Mychal also told that the NAACP is "a dinosaur."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:02 PM

"A Unique Opportunity for Federal Money"

Rarely is a green politician so straightforward about one of the main motivators of green advocates:
Just a day after announcing that he had the support of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is presenting his plan for a green New York at the first in a series of state hearings today.

The mayor kicked off his testimony at the first in a series of State Assembly hearings in Midtown by going straight to the heart of the matter, urging lawmakers to approve his controversial congestion pricing plan.

'Time is running out on us,' he told Assembly members. 'We have a unique opportunity for federal money... Now is the time to do this.'
The article goes on to explain how taxpayers in all 50 states would be required to pony up $225 million so the city of New York could charge cars $8 and trucks $21 to enter Manhattan.

This brings me to my second bit of praise for Mayor Bloomberg: His admission that some taxes cost money.

If only Mayor Bloomberg realized that requiring people in Kansas and Alabama to pay for a local New York City initiative is a BAD thing, not an "opportunity."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:57 PM

Thursday, June 07, 2007

NHS Blog Doctor: A Tale of Two Cancers

I read this two months ago, and didn't blog about it, but I find I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.

It's a blog post by a doctor in Britain. He sees two patients with similar cancers on the same morning. One patient has private health insurance. The other relies on Britain's National Health Service.

The doctor's own words tell the tale best.

After you read it, I bet the story will stick with you, too.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:05 PM

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Family Investigated for Sending Child to College

An ace student who skipped high school to complete college was prevented from receiving the associate's degree she earned while still a teenager. Because the child prodigy was not 19 years old, state education regulators in New York did not allow her to sit for a G.E.D., which the college required in order to award the degree.

Family Investigated for Sending Child to College

When child prodigy Angela Lipsman graduated from the eighth grade at New York City's Public School 187, she immediately began taking full-time college-level courses at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Although the 15-year-old earned enough credits for an associate's degree, her father, Daniel, became subject to an investigation for alleged educational neglect because Angela skipped high school to go directly to college.

Angela and her father live in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Daniel had vowed that he would "go to prison before my daughter goes to a city high school." Local high schools suffer from overcrowding, and the educational environment is so poor that Washington Heights' George Washington High School saw just 37 percent of the student body graduate on time in 1998.

New York Education Department regulations require children to be enrolled in school until the age of 17, and say that Angela cannot get a general equivalency diploma until she is 19. Even though Angela had maintained a 3.84 grade point average in her collegiate classes, the college would not give her the degree she earned because she never received a high school diploma. Daniel filed an age-discrimination lawsuit challenging the age requirements, but New York State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Malone ruled that Angela should not have been allowed to skip high school - even if it was to go straight to college.

Daniel Lipsman asserts that the state should not dictate what age a child must be in order to move on to the next level of schooling: "If the kid can demonstrate the achievement, give him or her the credential. She has a birth certificate. A G.E.D. is not a substitute birth certificate. This law is irrational and serves no legitimate governmental interest."

Angela had to travel to New Jersey in order to take her GED test. She then faxed the results to Excelsior College in Albany. Ironically, she received her associate's degree a week before she got her GED. In January, 2005, Angela received her bachelor's degree with a 3.87 G.P.A. from her 53 undergraduate courses. She has completed four graduate courses and plans to earn a master's degree before she turns 18.

Sources: New York Daily News (July 16, 2003), New York Post (July 16, 2003), Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lipsman

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 AM

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The U.N's Carbon Footprint

The headquarters of the United Nations leaks "nearly 25 percent of the heat pumped into it in the winter."

Great leading-by-example, guys.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:12 PM

In Britain, Where You Live Can Determine Whether You Live or Die

Speaking of problems with government-run health care in Great Britain, Glasgow's Herald has a few things to say in a June 5 staff editorial:
The idea of rationing medical treatment is one we instinctively find difficult. The National Health Service provides an ever-increasing range of life-saving and life-prolonging treatments, many of them unimaginable to previous generations. That in itself has compounded the problem: an ageing population needs more medical care.

Providing the best treatment for everyone on the basis of need is one of the ideals which unites British society, but it is not universally applied. The health service is run separately in Scotland and England and since devolution the divergence has been significant. One of the most obvious examples is in the prescribing of new drug treatments, such as Herceptin for some breast cancer patients. Most Scottish health boards say they prescribe it in appropriate cases, while English patients have taken legal action to obtain it. We have recently seen a similar discrepancy north and south of the border in the prescribing of Alimta for mesothelioma.

We cannot - and must not - assume that such a generous policy will continue indefinitely in Scotland.

In England, the British Medical Association tomorrow publishes a paper warning that fertility treatment, plastic surgery and more minor operations such as those for varicose veins and glue ear are likely to be rationed to the point where they may no longer be available on the NHS. Doctors in Scotland also concede that it is no longer financially feasible to deliver everything to everyone...
Read it all here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 AM

462,000 Dead

The Glasgow, Scotland Daily Record says:
Poor [National Health Service] treatment has led to almost half a million Scots dying in the last 30 years, a new study has revealed.

Doctors at Glasgow University found that between 1974 and 2003, a total of 462,000 people died in Scotland as a result of health service failings...
Hat tip: The Astute Bloggers.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

Monday, June 04, 2007

Parents Lose Legal Custody of Home-Schooled Children

The Massachusetts Department of Social Services took legal custody of two children, not because of any allegation of abuse or neglect, but because their parents were deemed "unfit" relating to home-schooling their children.

Parents Lose Legal Custody of Home-Schooled Children

To the consternation of officials from the Waltham Public Schools and the Massachusetts town's Department of Social Services (DSS), Kim and George Bryant decided to home-school their son, Nick, and daughter, Nyssa.

This decision ignited a legal fight between the local government and the Bryants that lasted over six years and became so contentious that the DSS took legal custody of the children.

The DSS was awarded legal custody of the Bryant children after the school district obtained a court ruling in 2001 stating the Bryants were "unfit" parents because they didn't file an educational plan or grading system meeting school district approval. The Bryants countered that their plan was very similar to one accepted for a familyin Framingham, another eastern Massachusetts school district.

Nonetheless, Kim and George were determined to be in "educational neglect" of their children, and the DSS was awarded legal custody of Nick and Nyssa. The children, however, continued to live with their parents and Bryants continued to provide and pay for all of the children's expenses. At no point did the DSS offer or provide any services. George Bryant explained, "DSS did virtually nothing to support the 'health' of my family," while claiming legal custody of the children. Both sides additionally agree the children were never abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally by their parents.

On June 12, 2003, DSS officials and four police officers arrived at the Bryant home at 7:45 am and ordered the children be taken to a hotel, where they would be given a standardized test. DSS worker Susan Etscovitz charged: "We have legal custody of the children and will do with them what we see fit... They are minors and they do what we tell them to do."

After the DSS failed to convince Nick and Nyssa to go to the hotel to sit for the test, the Framingham Juvenile Court issued a same-day ruling ordering their parents to take them. At the hotel, the children continued to refuse to take the test. Nyssa said, "We don't want to take the test. We have taken them before, and I don't think that they are a fair assessment of what we know." George Bryant echoed his daughter's complaint, saying, "Private school students do not take standardized tests. Why should our children be subjected to this, against their will?" He added: "We do not believe in assessing our children based on a number or letter. Their education process is their personal intellectual property." Surprisingly, Waltham School Superintendent Susan Parrella provided support to the Bryants' cause when she weighed in on the matter in quote to a local newspaper: "An acceptable home school plan is in place right now. I was not aware of any testing occurring today."

Nonetheless, a court hearing to determine whether a complete transfer of custody of the Bryant children to the DDS would take place due to their noncompliance was scheduled for the next day. But the hearing was later postponed indefinitely. George Bryant commented, "We were told [Thursday] that we must show up [Friday]. Several hours later we received a note in our door from DSS saying that it will be discussed at a later time." Since the issue was left unresolved, the Bryants were burdened for some time by the possibility that DSS officials and police officers would arrive at their door to demand their compliance with school district regulations, or perhaps to take the children to foster homes.

The Bryant case may be an extreme example, but home-schooling families in the Bay State often face hostile local governments. Scott Somerville, a staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, notes "Massachusetts is a barbaric [state] for homeschoolers."

While Nick continued to be home-schooled, Nyssa chose to enroll in a public high school in the neighboring Belmont Public School District in the fall of 2003. To facilitate her placement, Kim compiled a transcript highlighting the work Nyssa completed during her home schooling. As a result of her past educational achievement, Nyssa began high school a grade above most students in her age group. She made the school's highest honor roll every semester.

Sources: (June 18, 2003), WorldNetDaily (June 2003 coverage),, Talon News (June 17, 2003), GOPUSA News (June 17, 2003),,, Home School Legal Defense Association, Kim Bryant, George Greeley Bryant

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Friday, June 01, 2007

Christians Debate Global Warming

From Peyton Knight:
Yesterday, the Family Research Council hosted an event titled "Faith and Science in the Global Warming Debate."

The debate featured global warming "skeptics" Dr. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology and social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary, and Dr. Ken Chilton, Director of the Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment, squaring off against global warming “alarmists” Dr. Jim Ball, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and Dr. Rusty Pritchard, National Director of Outreach for EEN.

First to speak was Dr. Jim Ball of EEN. You may remember EEN from its controversial (and borderline blasphemous) "What Would Jesus Drive?" ad campaign, which sought to incorporate Christ as an anti-SUV zealot. Jim Ball's presentation was centered primarily on alarmist and exaggerated scenarios. Dr. Ball claimed that global warming is causing "more floods and droughts" and is "driving our weather patterns to the extremes." He also claimed that there are "major deadly consequences" just around the corner for Africa if we don't tackle the global warming issue immediately. For effect, Dr. Ball showed a slide of a woman from Northwest Kenya who, understandably, was in despair over a recent drought - not that this particular drought had anything to do with global warming, of course. According to Dr. Ball, Christians should consider embrace global warming as a moral issue from the standpoint of caring for the poor and less fortunate, as well as caring for God's creation. Dr. Ball also informed the partisan crowd that Newt Gingrich is on board with the global warming alarmists.

Next up was Dr. Cal Beisner. His presentation was quite impressive. It is clear he has a very confident, articulate and well-read command of the issue. Dr. Beisner stressed that mandatory CO2 restrictions like those called for in the Kyoto Protocol would have no discernable impact on the overall climate. However, he pointed out, "Capping CO2 emissions would be economically devastating to the world's poor," and such an action would be "unconscionable."

EEN's Dr. Rusty Pritchard followed next. In my view, his presentation and command of the issue was much more effective and coherent than that of his colleague Dr. Ball. Dr. Pritchard told the audience that EEN essentially agrees with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Newt Gingrich. Dr. Pritchard said that in order to avoid disaster, we could not allow the planet to warm more than two degrees Celsius. At one point Dr. Pritchard stressed that we do not need more government, but he quickly followed that up with a call for government to cap CO2 and set a greenhouse gas regulatory agenda. With those government controls in place, it would then be left to "the market" to price and distribute CO2 emissions. As for the poor who would be harmed most by the rising cost of energy? Dr. Pritchard said they can be assisted "through the tax code and subsidies." In other words: more government.

Last to speak was Dr. Ken Chilton. Dr. Chilton began by emphatically stating that the science of modeling the future of the climate was far from accurate or settled. Dr. Chilton also echoed his colleague, Dr. Beisner, stating, "Kyoto is costly but ineffective." Chilton noted that efforts to create a cap and trade system, like the one promoted by EEN, would be a bit cheaper than the Kyoto Protocol, but would do literally nothing for the climate, making it ultimately an expensive "symbolic gesture." He stressed that developing nations needed and wanted better healthcare and technology, and that restrictions on CO2 would inhibit their progress toward these goals. As for the connection between Christianity and the global warming issue, Dr. Chilton advised: "My advice to most of my brothers and sisters in Christ is to remain agnostic on this issue." Dr. Chilton added that it is "the height of human hubris" to think that man can manipulate God's creation on such a large scale.

Those interested can listen to the entire panel discussion here.
To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:27 PM

Home Schoolers Banned in Calvert County

Calvert County, MD bans the use of a county building by home-schooled students on the grounds that such instruction, though open to the public, would duplicate county services and waste taxpayer dollars.

Activities Banned From Community Center: Alcohol, Crime... and Home Schooling?

You can take a foreign language class at community centers in Calvert County, Maryland. You can play ultra-violent fantasy wargames, possibly even ones based on pagan beliefs. You can even participate in Bible study classes. But Lydia Goulart and Kyle Travers have found out the hard way that you can't teach a class in fiber arts or host a geography club there if your lessons happen to be in conjunction with home schooling.

In Calvert County, using a county building to "home school" children ranks among prohibited activities like alcohol use, criminal acts or hosting for-profit events. According to county officials, allowing home schooling parents to use public facilities for their classes and extracurricular activities would be a waste of taxpayer money because it would create "duplicate services" already provided by the public schools. This decision stands despite the fact that Goulart and Travers planned on opening their activities to the public and sought to utilize rooms that otherwise were empty.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, arguing Calvert County officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law. The court ruled against Goulart and Travers, allowing the ban on homeschooling activities to continue. HSLDA appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. On September 26, 2003, the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court overturned the District Court, affirming that teaching the young is protected under the First Amendment. However, the court also held that the Community Center had not violated the rights of the homeschoolers by excluding them from the facilities. HSLDA decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sources: The Home School Legal Defense Association, The Daily Record (Baltimore, Maryland) (September 29, 2003)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:26 PM

U.S. Isolated on Climate?

Is the U.S. isolated on international climate policy?

Apparently not.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

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