title>Lady Liberty Defended: February 2007
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions, issued a press release late Monday:
Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.
Gore’s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.
Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.
“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
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The Newsweek poll alleges that 67% of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69% of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change.
So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?''
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4% of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?
Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.
Perhaps you are one of the 70% of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67% of you folks unhappy.
Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.
I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31% approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?
Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.
So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69% of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds, it leads, and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they were going to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn't kill his wife but if he did, how he would do it . Insane!
Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.
I close with one of my favorite quotes from B.C. Forbes in 1953:
''What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, 'the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.' Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs.''
I suggest we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don't, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the ''greediest and most ungrateful generation.'' A far cry from the proud Americans of the ''greatest generation'' who left us an untarnished legacy.
Since the start of the War more than 3,100 men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, have been killed in Iraq.I don't know what they expect. Less than 1% of the US population is serving in the armed forces. Small towns have something that our big cities and metropolitan areas are apparently lacking. We call them SMALL TOWN VALUES. We value country, family, God, and our responsibilities to those things. Many times more than in the big cities it appears that we can actually pass those values on to our children. Lance Cpl. Daniel Todd Morris of Raphine, Augusta County, Virginia, USofA was just such a young man. By all accounts he was a young man anyone would be proud of parenting. He was a young man with whom any Marine or soldier or sailor or airman would have been proud to serve.
It's a reality we've come to expect during war time.
But that doesn't make accepting it any easier.
Across the country cities are flying flags at half staff.
Their way of honoring their local heroes, who paid the ultimate price defending their country.
Nearly half of the U.S. Military fatalities in Iraq have come from small towns
D.C. Council member Marion Barry yesterday introduced legislation that would suspend the District's 30-year ban on handguns, providing gun owners a 90-day period to register weapons they would then be allowed to legally own.Oh, I do feel sorry for anyone foolish enough to want to live in the District of Columbia.
"We are in the midst of a gun-violence epidemic," said Mr. Barry, Ward 8 Democrat. "We need to see gun violence as an emergency in the District of Columbia."
Mr. Barry's bill, which only applies to pistols, would allow D.C. residents with no criminal record to register guns for 90 days from the law's enactment. After the 90-day period, current gun restrictions would be reinstated.
Barry spokesman Keith Perry said the bill is "an acknowledgment that people do have guns" in the District and would help police better track weapons used in the commission of crimes.
The District has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and restricts ownership of most guns that were not registered before 1977. Privately owned rifles and shotguns must be kept at home and stored unloaded, disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or a similar device.
Mr. Barry's proposal would increase the penalties for possessing an unregistered weapon in the District from a maximum of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
A second offense could result in 30 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, according to the bill.
Mr. Barry, who was robbed at gunpoint in his Southeast apartment in January 2006, cited statistics that said police had confiscated 2,656 guns last year, with 51 percent of those weapons being seized east of the Anacostia River.
A recent Metropolitan Police Department report on homicides from 2001 to 2005 states that 901 of 1,126 homicide victims, or about 80 percent, were fatally shot.
Mr. Barry, who served four terms as D.C. mayor, also referenced the recent shooting deaths of D.C. teenagers Cynthia Gray and Taleshia Ford, both 17, in urging support for the measure.
"We all get outraged ... and we all go home," Mr. Barry said. "Nothing is done to get the guns off the streets of Washington, D.C."
Mr. Barry's bill was co-sponsored by council members Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat; Kwame Brown, at-large Democrat; and Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat. It was referred to the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.
Mr. Brown acknowledged that the bill "needs some working and flushing out" but that it was a proactive approach to taking guns off of city streets.
"To me, it's the end result," he said. "How do we get guns off the streets of the District of Columbia, get public input and find out how we can make the streets safer?"
Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the public safety committee, said he had reservations about aspects of the bill. He said the 90-day period during which people who have owned illegal guns can register their weapons seems "counterproductive."
"The intent is right, to deal with gun violence," Mr. Mendelson said. "The amnesty thing, I think, goes against the need to reduce the number of guns in our city." He said the bill would likely be considered during the course of a larger hearing on gun violence.
Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said yesterday the organization was not sufficiently familiar with Mr. Barry's bill to give an opinion on it but that the measure could be a tough sell in the District.
"It seems like a real uphill struggle for Mr. Barry to get a lot of broad support for something like this," Mr. Hamm said. "Washington, D.C., is suffering from a lot of gun violence lately and to say, 'Let's bring more guns into the equation as a solution,' doesn't sound like it makes a great deal of sense."
Chris W. Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, also said Mr. Barry's proposal was a surprise and that the organization would study the bill.
"Obviously, we support efforts to allow law-abiding residents of the District to own firearms," Mr. Cox said. "And we will continue in those efforts."
Congressional attempts to repeal the District's gun ban in recent years have been criticized as attacks on the District's right to home rule.
In 2004, the House of Representatives voted in favor of repealing the city's restrictions on gun ownership and registration, even though the measure was opposed by the District's mayor, 13 council members, the police chief and the city's congressional delegate. The bill was not brought to a vote in the Senate.
A federal appeals court heard arguments in December about whether the District's decision to prohibit residents from owning guns is a violation of the Second Amendment. That decision is pending. A U.S. District judge rejected the argument, brought by six D.C. residents, in 2005.
Only 29 senators and 23 percent of House members today have ever worn a uniform. Those are the lowest percentages since World War II.from PotomacNews.com By JAMES W. CRAWLEY Media General News Service Sunday, February 4, 2007
Delaware global warming skeptic stands pat
State climatologist on opposite side of governor in court case
By JEFF MONTGOMERY, The News Journal
Posted Thursday, February 1, 2007
Delaware's state climatologist David R. Legates
Delaware's state climatologist has found himself in the middle of a political squall after taking skeptical stands on global warming and climate change -- in one case directly contradicting the state's own policy.
David R. Legates, a University of Delaware geography professor, co-wrote a "friend of the court" brief that opposed Delaware's position in a multi-state U.S. Supreme Court case.
In the appeal, state regulators argued that carbon dioxide from new cars should be regulated because of evidence the gas was contributing to rising global temperatures, climate shifts and changes in the environment. The Bush administration and industry critics opposed the demand, saying the dire warnings are unproven.
Enter Legates, a Ph.D. climatologist who received the title of state climatologist in 2005 from Daniel Leathers, now the head of the University of Delaware's geography department.
Legates joined a group of scientists late last year in urging the court to reject the state claims, in a brief filed by the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute.
"It is simply impossible to conclude that the net effect of greenhouse gases endangers human health and welfare," the brief said.
The institute has sued the government in the past to block some fuel economy standards for automobiles.
Two sides of the coin
The appearance of Delaware's climatologist on the other side of the court case left some state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials frustrated.
"He's taken a position that 'The climate is changing, but we don't have any danger signs,' " said Ali Mirzakhalili, air quality management chief for DNREC.
Recently branded "a favorite scientist of the global warming denial machine" by one national environmental group, Legates said he was following scientific evidence in arguing the institute's position in the court case. He has taken similar positions dating back to at least 1998, while a professor at Louisiana State University.
"The science brought in by the one side had given a more extremist view of climate change," Legates said. "What we're trying to say is, the science isn't necessarily that well settled, and in many cases it isn't that extreme. I'm not saying it isn't a problem."
As state climatologist, a position the state doesn't fund, Legates collects and shares climate data with the National Climatic Data Center, the Northeast Regional Climate Center and the National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly, N.J. Similar positions exist in 41 other states and Puerto Rico, generally staffed by state employees or university staffers.
"I don't think the doctor [Legates] speaks for the state's position," said Philip Cherry, a DNREC administrator who recently invited Legates to address agency employees. "I think the governor speaks for the state's position."
Delaware has accepted the view human activities contribute to global warming, and changes are needed to curb risks of sea level rise and climate change. The state adopted a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2000.
An updated report on global warming and its consequences by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due Friday, is expected to include forecasts of rising sea levels and changing weather and climate conditions worldwide.
Legates disputes warnings
Federal scientists have long warned that sea-level increases could be most pronounced along the mid-Atlantic, including the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay.
Some forecasts have predicted that Delaware could lose 50 percent or more of its tidal wetlands under worst-case scenarios.
But during a presentation sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation last year, Legates said, "This has become climate alarmism."
Then in early 2006, the National Policy Research Center, a conservative think tank, published a paper by Legates saying science "does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21st century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change."
NPRC listed Legates as an adjunct scholar at the time the paper was released, as well as director of the University of Delaware's Climatic Research Center.
In 2003 Legates was called to testify in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, a global warming skeptic prone to talk of "debunking" scientific climate change conclusions that are now widely accepted.
During that testimony Legates disputed findings of the international panel, saying researchers failed to prove recent warming trends or that human causes are "the only significant factor."
Wilmington resident Chad Tolman, a retired DuPont Co. research scientist who held positions with the National Academy of Sciences, said Legates' position clashed awkwardly with most Delaware scientists.
"I just don't know how, in the face of all the evidence, [he] maintains [his] position," Tolman said.
Cherry, who is managing Delaware's efforts with other states to cap regional greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, said Legates was free to take a stand that contradicts Delaware.
"But I have to say he's in the very small minority," Cherry said.
Contact Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sanchez Accuses Democrat of Calling Her a 'Whore,' Resigns from Hispanic Groupand
By: Josephine Hearn
February 1, 2007 01:34 PM EST
Rep. Loretta Sanchez has quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, accusing the chairman, Rep. Joe Baca, of telling people she's a "whore."
Baca denied the charge.
In an interview with The Politico Wednesday, Sanchez, a California Democrat as is Baca, also cited concerns about whether Baca was properly elected Hispanic Caucus chairman in November and about his general attitude toward female lawmakers. The caucus represents 21 Hispanic Democrats in Congress.
"I'm not going to be a part of the CHC as long as Mr. Baca illegally holds the chair … I told them no. There's a big rift here," Sanchez said. "You treat the women like shit. I have no use for him."
In a statement to The Politico, Baca said Sanchez "has decided to resign from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and has chosen to air baseless statements. Let me be clear; her comments are categorically untrue."
The last time lawmakers withdrew from the Hispanic caucus was in the late 1990s when the group's Republican members left over partisan differences.
Sanchez said she had been approached earlier this year to contribute funds from her office budget to support the CHC's shared staff, a requirement for all its members. She refused.
"I told them to take me off the list, take me off the Web site, take me off everything," Sanchez said.
She said she was surprised and insulted when she learned that Baca had made the disparaging personal comment about her to California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and other legislators last year.
Nunez "is a friend of mine. Did he think he wouldn't tell me?" Sanchez asked.
Sanchez voted against Baca in the election for chairman in November. Four other female lawmakers abstained from the vote, raising concerns about whether the election followed proper procedures.
The Sanchez withdrawal is a blow to Baca and his allies who have been trying to bring the caucus back together after a series of internal spats last year. Many of the more junior members and the women have butted heads with him and senior lawmakers.
Last February, six members withdrew from the group's political action committee after Baca and his allies authorized political contributions to family members who were running for state and local offices.
Sanchez was among that group of defectors, which also included her sister, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., and Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza of California, Jim Costa of California, Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona and Hilda L. Solis of California.
In recent weeks, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Calif., a CHC member who serves in House leadership as assistant to the speaker, had been trying to persuade the six members to rejoin the political action committee, which is known as the Committee for Hispanic Causes/Building Our Leadership Diversity. So far, it appears those efforts have not succeeded. An invitation for a PAC fundraiser to be held Wednesday night continues to omit the six.
Earlier this month, four female lawmakers wrote Baca asking that the caucus repeat his election as chairman because the earlier vote failed to use secret ballots, as required in the group's bylaws.
Sanchez and other female CHC members have repeatedly complained that Baca and some of his male colleagues do not accord them a high level of respect.
"There is a big rift. Hello? Do they not get this?" Sanchez said.
Breaking News: Two More Reps. Complain About Treatment of Women in Hispanic Caucus
By: Josephine Hearn
February 1, 2007 01:31 PM EST
Two Democratic congresswomen released statements supporting a complaint that the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called Rep. Loretta Sanchez a "whore."
Said Rep. Hilda L. Solis, of California, about this rapidly developing story:
"I share Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez's sentiment about the lack of respect afforded to women members of the Hispanic Caucus. If the Hispanic Caucus is to be truly representative of the Latino community, it must give equal treatment to all its members, regardless of gender or seniority.
"I continue to be very concerned about the operation of BOLD-PAC, the Caucus' campaign arm. I withdrew from the PAC last year because it was moving away from its mission of electing Hispanic Congressional candidates by allowing contributions to Hispanic Caucus relatives running for local and state office. The PAC's recently revised by-laws continue to allow this practice. At a time when the public is crying out for a more ethical government, we should be taking every step to avoid any appearance of preferential treatment for relatives.
"We must address these issues and resolve them as soon as possible so we can continue fighting for the rights and the well being of the Latino community, as is the mission of the Caucus."
Added Rep. Linda Sanchez, also of California and the sister of Loretta Sanchez:
"I support Loretta's decision. I was one of several members of the CHC who raised concerns about this issue before the current caucus leadership was determined. I am waiting to see if the Hispanic Caucus leadership will make good on its promise to be more fair and inclusive of its Latina members. It is my hope that the leadership will take the concerns that the Latinas have expressed seriously. Latinas are the fastest growing segment of the minority population, and their perspective deserves to be represented, not denigrated."
Speaker pursues military flights
By Rowan Scarborough THE WASHINGTON TIMES 1 Feb 2007
The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pressing the Bush administration for routine access to military aircraft for domestic flights, such as trips back to her San Francisco district, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The sources, who include those in Congress and in the administration, said the Democrat is seeking regular military flights not only for herself and her staff, but also for relatives and for other members of the California delegation. A knowledgeable source called the request "carte blanche for an aircraft any time."
"They are pressing the point of her succession and that the [Department of Defense] needs to play ball with the speaker's needs," one source said. The request originally went to the Pentagon, which then asked the White House to weigh in.
Mrs. Pelosi's request is not new for a speaker, who is second-in-line in presidential succession. A defense source said the speaker's regular access to a military plane began after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, who was speaker at the time, started using U.S. Air Force planes for domestic travel to and from his district for security reasons. A former Hastert aide said the congressman did not use military planes for political trips or regularly transport his family.
The defense source said Mr. Hastert requested a plane with good communications so he could conduct legislative business. The military flights increased to the point the speaker used a military plane for many, if not all, flights to his Illinois district, the former aide said.
Sources said Mrs. Pelosi's request goes beyond what Mr. Hastert received. The speaker's legal counsel is spearheading the talks.
An aide to Mrs. Pelosi, who asked not to be named, confirmed yesterday that discussions are ongoing with the administration. "It would be done for security reasons," said the aide, adding that the speaker has used military aircraft for at least one trip back to San Francisco.
The aide asserted that the administration was using a Washington Times reporter, in effect, to negotiate with the speaker's office by leaking information about Mrs. Pelosi's request. Asked if the speaker was seeking increased access to military planes, the aide took the question, but did not call back.
A Pentagon spokesman referred questions to Mrs. Pelosi's office. A White House spokeswoman said last night she had no information on the request.
The rules for congressional travel on military aircraft are contained in Defense Department Directive 4515.12.
Congressional access to military passenger jets is generally restricted to official trips abroad, or for domestic flights to military bases or events to which the Pentagon invited the lawmaker. Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. changed the procedure in the case of the speaker.
U.S. Air Force travel for VIPs such as members of Congress is first-rate. The planes are staffed with stewards who serve meals and tend an open bar. Communications suites allow members to conduct business while traveling.
Such flights are one of Congress' cherished perquisites, providing lawmakers a chance to visit foreign lands at government expense. Official duties are often mixed with sightseeing and fine dining.
But trips to war zones are not junkets. Since the September 11 attacks, the Air Force has flown hundreds of congressional delegations, or "co-dels," to various war theaters. Mrs. Pelosi just completed a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Upon her return, she repeated her demand that President Bush not send more troops to Iraq.
Englund said criminals can be long gone by the time a deputy arrives from Cambridge, the county seat, about 14 miles away. The sheriff said that, with a rising call rate and 14 deputies to patrol 440 miles of roads, his department is understaffed.I'm not alone in this but I'd like to point out that the law is ours, in our own hands. Law enforcement officer (policemen and women) are our employees as are the government representatives. We aren't selecting them to be our bosses. We don't pay them to be our bosses. We pay them to protect us from the worst among us, to make sure the water works work, the schools educate our kids/grand kids and the roads are maintained.
"We want people's help, we need their help [calling with information], but we don't want people taking the law into their own hands," he said.