Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gas Pains - Cause and Effect

The politicians on both sides of the isle joined in the donkey parade, touting gas rebates, rollback on tax incentives, oil company investigations, windfall profits taxing. Ho-Hum, it's an election year and the political hypocrites are in full swing.
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Government, and the inept politicians who legislation are, in part, the cause and effect of high gas prices. Big goverment will always spur big costs to consumers.
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Democrats have vetoed opening even a tiny portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production. If there is as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey estimates, this would increase America's proven domestic oil reserves by about 50%.
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In 1995 the Republican Congress passed an ANWR production bill, which Bill Clinton vetoed because he said it could be five to 10 years before the oil would be produced. We would have that oil today if Mr. Clinton had signed that bill.
xxx Democrats have also voted against producing oil from the Outer Continental Shelf, where there are more supplies by some estimates than in Saudi Arabia. In the 1970's the environmentalists and their followers in Democratically controlled Congress even protested building the Alaska pipeline, which today supplies nearly one million barrels of oil a day. When the U.S. imposed a windfall profits tax in 1980, prices rose to an inflation-adjusted range even higher than today, and domestic production fell. As for claims of "gouging," the price of gasoline at the pump in the U.S. has risen 25% less than the rise in the global price of crude oil since 2003, according to Wall Street economist Michael Darda.
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Fact Sheet:
  • China's demand for oil grew 41% over the past four years, while total world demand grew by about 8%.
  • Refiners are starting to mix more fuel with ethanol instead of MTBE, an additive that is blamed for causing groundwater pollution. Ethanol tends to be more expensive than MTBE. This is mandated by congressional legislation.
  • Since the 1990s, the FTC has engaged in multiple gas-price investigations, but it has yet to find a case of price manipulation. The last major investigation, which was in 2001 after gasoline in the Midwest was priced at about 30% more than the national average, found that the high prices were primarily a product of refinery production problems, pipeline disruptions, low inventories and high crude prices.
  • Congress passed an energy bill that included as much as $5 billion in tax breaks for oil companies. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates oil companies will receive at least $10 billion in total tax breaks over the next five years.
  • In 2001, the average U.S. family drove about 5,700 miles commuting to and from work, up from about 4,900 in 1990. Commuting made up the largest share of total vehicle miles traveled in 2001. Social and recreational travel made up the largest share in 1990.
  • An average American spends about 14 hours a year mowing the lawn, compared with about 375 hours driving. An average lawn mower uses about four gallons of gasoline a year. An average American driver uses about 500 gallons of gasoline a year.
  • As gas prices increase, many gas stations also report an increase in gas theft. Gas theft costs gas stations an estimated $237 million in 2004 -- about one of every 1,100 fill-ups -- up from well under $200 million in 2003.

The rhetoric and blame game over fuel cost demonstrates a complete lack of responsibility by elected offiicials. Opportunities to enhance energy self-sufficiency has been around for decades but U.S. citizens have been paid lip service by politicians.

Citizens have voted for many politicians for years without challenging them to do better. Do we go to the polls ignorant of the activities and voting records of career politico's? American consumers are at fault for their poor habits too. We want what we want, driving gas guzzling cars, buying our children cars and failing to demand more efficient vehicles and effective mass transportation alternatives.

Bloated government and selfish consumer habits are as much to blame for current gas prices as world markets and the growing demand for oil in China and India. Change is difficult but we should demand more from ourselves and more from elected officials.

Source of Data: The Wall Street Journal

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Colin Powell Comments - Untimely & Unwarranted

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised President Bush before the Iraq war to send more troops to the country, but the administration did not follow his recommendation. Powell made these comments in London and is crying foul because his strategy was not deployed, in favor of active military commanders in charge at the time. Is this a too little, too late, simply jumping on the retired U.S. General "arm chair strategy" bandwagon. We would hope Mr. Powell would have shown restraint and not joined the fracas of punditry recently displayed by commanders not on the front lines of decision making in the war on terror and Iraq.
xxx
Powell said he gave the advice to now retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who developed and executed the Iraq invasion plan, and Rumsfeld while the president was present.
xxx "I made the case to Gen. Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld before the president that I was not sure we had enough troops," Powell said in an interview on Britain's ITV television, according to a transcript released by the network. "The case was made, it was listened to, it was considered. ... A judgment was made by those responsible that the troop strength was adequate."
xxx
Powell further stated, "The president's military advisers felt that the size of the force was adequate, they may still feel that years later. Some of us don't, I don't," Powell said. "In my perspective, I would have preferred more troops but you know, this conflict is not over."
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"At the time the president was listening to those who were supposed to be providing him with military advice," Powell said. "They were anticipating a different kind of immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, it turned out to be not exactly as they had anticipated."
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Rumsfeld has rejected criticism that he had sent too few U.S. troops to Iraq, saying that Franks and two other generals who oversaw the campaign's planning, John Abizaid and George Casey, had determined the overall number of troops, and that he and Bush agreed with them.
xxx
No matter what Powell's feeling, he demonstrates he learned little about diplomacy while Secretary of State. It's doubtful Powell would appreciate public criticism of his decision making, yet he was weak at the State Department and the decision to remove him was not only warranted, but long overdue.
xx
Source: FoxNews

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Moon Bat of The Week Award!

The Vatican
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The Vatican is attempting to censor a book, The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown and the upcoming movie by the same name. Instead of encouraging dialogue within the faith they are returning to the dark ages of burning books, dungeons and tolitarian rule with an iron fist.
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While the Vatican cannot prove every single word in the Old or New Testament they claim Brown's books is a lie and a sin.
xxx
Archbishop Angelo Amato said the book, written by Dan Brown, had been hugely successful around the world thanks in part to what he called "the extreme cultural poverty on the part of a good number of the Christian faithful." The novel is an international murder mystery centered on attempts to uncover a secret about the life of Christ that a clandestine society has tried to protect for centuries.
xxx The central tenet of the book is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children. In his address to the group, Amato said Christians should be more willing "to reject lies and gratuitous defamation." Amato said that if "such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising." He added: "Instead, if they are directed against the Church and Christians, they remain unpunished." Catholic group Opus Dei has told Sony Pictures that putting a disclaimer on the movie stressing it is a work of fiction would be a welcome show of respect toward the Church.
xxx In the novel and film, Opus Dei is characterized as the latest in a series of secretive groups that worked over the centuries to obscure truths about Jesus Christ. Opus Dei is a controversial conservative Church groups whose members are mostly non-clerics and urged to seek holiness in their everyday professional jobs and lives. It has rejected criticisms that it is secretive and elitist. Former FBI agent and convicted spy, Robert Hanssen is a former Opus Dei member
xxx
Amato is suggesting an uprising and punishment similar to what Islamist extremists would bring about. Is he suggesting Jihad by way of terrorist organizations who kill innocent people they disagree with or who disagree with them? Has the Vatican formally renounced Iranian statements that the Holocaust is a myth? Did the Vatican try to stop the Godfather trilogy, which depicted heavy corruption in the church and ties with the Mafia? xxx
Amato suggested that Catholics around the world should launch organized protests against the "The Da Vinci Code" film just as some had done in 1988 to protest against Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ."
xxx
The Vatican is depicting itself as out of touch and very dangerous to democratic principles. Freedom of religion is only one key right in the U.S. Constitution and the Vatican shouldn't attempt to disolve all others rights of freedom to protect it's own self-serving interest.

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The Environmental Worm Turns

"In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots... Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change... The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly two billion tons of CO2 annually—the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300-million automobiles. In addition, the Clean Air Council reports that coal plants are responsible for 64 percent of sulfur-dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33 percent of mercury emissions. These pollutants are eroding the health of our environment, producing acid rain, smog, respiratory illness and mercury contamination. Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2 emissions annually—the equivalent of the exhaust from more than 100-million automobiles. Imagine if the ratio of coal to nuclear were reversed so that only 20 percent of our electricity were generated from coal and 60 percent from nuclear. This would go a long way toward cleaning the air and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that direction."
xxx
~Patrick Moore, Ph.D., co-founder of Greenpeace
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Source: Patriot Post

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Friday, April 28, 2006

O Say, Can You......Speak English?

UPDATE: (Breitbart)
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The national anthem should be sung in English, not Spanish, President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over the millions of immigrants here illegally. "One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us." When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English." We concur below.
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Francis Scott Key surely is rolling in his grave as British music producer Adam Kidron says when he came up with the idea of a Spanish-language version of the U.S. national anthem, he saw it as an ode to the millions of immigrants seeking a better life.
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Although many "renditions" of the U.S. national anthem have been sung, with some being an insult to music lovers everywhere. This poem turned song originated in English and is meant to be sung in English for an English speaking culture. English is the language of the United States and should be the number one requirement when attaining legal citizenship.
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The initial version of "Nuestro Himno," or "Our Anthem," comes out Friday and uses lyrics based closely on the English-language original, said Kidron, who heads the record label Urban Box Office.
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Suddenly one of our national treasures becomes a "version", directed not at all immigrants but Spanish speaking immigrants. This is code for rights for illegal immigrants, telling them the United States is their country and they have rights as non-cititzens. Illegal immigrants protesting on U.S. soil, carrying Mexican flags and now singing the U.S. national anthem in Spanish. What message does that symbolize? Forced entry into a foreign land is not a right, it's law-breaking.
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Kidron isn't finished. A remix to be released in June will contain several lines in English that condemn U.S. immigration laws. Among them: "These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws ... let's not start a war with all these hard workers, they can't help where they were born."
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Kidron chose to change America's national anthem to make a statement and to make a profit. The struggle for freedom doesn't mean breaking laws. Kidron can write any song he pleases. "Our Anthem" isn't our anthem! Illegal immigration is against the law, and immigration isn't a right, it's a privilege. For those who still dont' understand, learn it and respect it. The Star-Spangled Banner below is more than a song, it's part of the American spirit and American culture, based on freedom, liberty and rule of law.
xxx
O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
xxx
~Francis Scott Key - 1814~

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Porker of The Month - Representative Alan Mollohan

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) Porker of the Month for abusing his position on the House Appropriations Committee by securing millions of dollars in earmarks that may have benefited him personally. The New York Times (04/08/06) detailed how Rep. Mollohan has directed $250 million to five nonprofit organizations that he set up. On April 21, Rep. Mollohan stepped down from his position as the senior Democrat on the House Ethics Committee. CAGW identified $480 million for pork projects added in the House or in conference committees, most likely by Rep. Mollohan, for his district since 1995. More than half of his earmarks have gone to the five nonprofits, most of which depend almost entirely on government money for funding. To run the organizations, Rep. Mollohan has recruited friends and former aides who then contribute to his political campaigns and family foundation. Businesses that are awarded contracts through these nonprofits also make campaign contributions. The National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint challenging the accuracy of Rep. Mollohan’s financial disclosure forms. The root question is whether a spike in Rep. Mollohan’s personal fortune had any connection to earmarks that he secured. In one example, the complaint looks at whether Mollohan properly reported 27 condominiums in Washington, D.C., co-owned with a cousin whose business once benefited from a federal contract in Mollohan’s district. The Times describes the network of nonprofits as “plush.” All but one of the nonprofits’ chief executives makes a salary that outpaced the $98,456 national average for nonprofit heads. The Institute for Scientific Research is in disarray after its chief executive resigned over his controversial $500,000 annual salary, paid for by federal earmarks. The institute is also using $103 million of earmarked funds to erect a lavish headquarters replete with a sauna and spa in a former cow pasture. As described by the Times, “the 57-member staff is barely large enough to fill a corner of the 600-plus capacity of the building.” The Canaan Valley Institute, which is building a $33 million headquarters with earmarked funds, grew out of an effort to create a wildlife refuge near property that Rep. Mollohan owns. In December 2005, Roll Call (12/08/2005) detailed how Rep. Mollohan has received campaign contributions from MZM, Inc. The company’s former owner, Mitchell Wade, was at the heart of the bribery scandal that led to the resignation of ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.). Rep. Mollohan was quoted in the article as saying, “All I care about is supporting companies and [federal] programs that companies are doing in my Congressional district.” West Virginia ranked 4th in pork per capita in CAGW’s 2006 Congressional Pig Book, which identified 9,963 pork projects costing a record $29 billion in the 11 appropriations bills for fiscal 2006. Rep. Mollohan received the Molehill into a Mountain “Oinker” Award for his $2.2 million in appropriations for the MountainMade Foundation, which promotes West Virginia arts and crafts on the Internet.
xxx Rep. Mollohan is Exhibit A in an appropriations process that is soaked with conflicts of interests and lends itself to abuse. For directing earmarks to wasteful projects that have the effect of swelling his campaign coffers and possibly his personal wealth, CAGW names Rep. Alan Mollohan Porker of the Month for April 2006. Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.
Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers bestowed by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)

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See Jane Kill Dick

According to a study due out next week, kiddie flicks routinely poison the minds of their tiny viewers by relegating female characters to minority status in terms of both numbers and power.
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This report comes from the "See Jane" program, founded by actress Geena Davis, and it shows that "G movies give boys a D" by "portraying males as dominant, disconnected and dangerous."
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Unlike Ms. Davis's R-rated "Thelma and Louise," it seems, where men were all those things, but the women gunned them down and then triumphed by killing themselves. Or we might add, Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill" Vol's. 1 & 2!
xxx
Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas Expensive - Talk Cheap in Senate

The Senate is alive and well with finger pointing, claims, accusations, innuendo and well alot of baloney. While posing for pictures at the capitol hill Exxon one block away, Senators from both parties didn't quite practice what they preach. What's good for America, according to lawmakers, isn't good for them.
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Barbara Boxer (D-CA) left the station in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg), even though her Senate office was one block away. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N) also drove the one block to and from the gas-station news conference, albeit in a relatively efficient Hyundai Elantra. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was a model of conservation. She shooed away her driver and ducked into a sushi restaurant for lunch. Of course she drove to the news conference. At about the same time, House Republicans were meeting in the Capitol for their weekly caucus (Topic A: gas). The House driveway was jammed with cars, many idling, including eight Chevrolet Suburbans (14 mpg). After lunchtime votes, senators emerged for the drive across the street to their offices. Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) hopped in a GMC Yukon (14 mpg). Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) climbed aboard a Nissan Pathfinder (15). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-N) stepped into an eight-cylinder Ford Explorer (14). Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-CA) disappeared into a Lincoln Town Car (17). Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) met up with an idling Chrysler minivan (18). Next came Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-NJ) greeted by a Ford Explorer XLT (14). On the Senate floor Tuesday, Menendez had complained that Bush "remains opposed to higher fuel-efficiency standards." Also waiting: three Suburbans, a Nissan V8 Armada, two Cadillacs and a Lexus. The greenest senator was Richard Lugar (R-IN) picked up by his hybrid Toyota Prius (60 mpg). His Indiana counterpart, Democrat Evan Bayh (D-IN) was met by a Dodge Durango V8 (14). A surreptitious look at cars in the senators-only spots inside and outside the Senate office buildings found an Escort and a Sentra (super-rich Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl's spot had a Chevy Lumina), but far more Jaguars, Cadillacs and Lexuses and a fleet of SUVs made by Ford, Honda, BMW and Lexus. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) emerged from the lunch looking for his ride when he spied The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray. Reconsidering, he set out on foot. "I need the exercise," he said. xxx

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Dick Durbin - Tax Gouging Liberal

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) isn't someone I love to hate, he is someone who I absolutely despise. He is the ultimate obstructionist, double-talking, tax supporting liar in the Senate. Not to mention he suggested our troops on the ground in Iraq were like Nazi's.
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Durbin was interviewed by Neil Cavuto (FoxNews) and as all liberals, he fails to present a plan, he does what he does best. Durbin talks around the issues and avoids the facts of free markets and capitalism. Here is a slightly edited transcript with my commentary below.
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DURBIN: Well, let me come up with a radical suggestion. Why aren't we talking about conservation and fuel efficiency? Why aren't we talking about automobiles and trucks that have more fuel efficiency than the ones we drive today? Why aren't we talking about alternative sources of fuel, whether it's alcohol fuels or bio-diesel? Why do you always have to go to the point where you want to push the envelope on the environment, invade a wilderness area with exploration? CAVUTO: I would say touche to you. Open all those ideas But what I typically hear from your party is that resistance to looking for oil elsewhere in this country, and Republicans who are equally resistant to some of those conservation measures. You're quite right to point that out. But I don't hear you guys coming together on this issue. And, so, I hear a lot of demagoguery, by the way, on both parties' parts. DURBIN: Let me just say this. I am for environmentally responsible drilling. If you want to drill for oil or gas, at the expense of our natural legacy and heritage, I'm against it. If you want to jeopardize the air that we breathe in this country or the water that we drink, I'm against it. But I think we can come up with energy sources, environmentally responsible sources. And, then, we have to accept some personal responsibility to buy more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, to start moving toward wind power, solar power, geothermal, alternative fuels, things which have been dismissed with the back of a hand by this administration, which was smitten with the oil company interests. That has to change. CAVUTO: Although, to be fair to this administration, it was pursuing ethanol when your party pooh-poohed it. I guess the blame again, sir, could go back and forth. DURBIN: I beg your pardon? I beg your pardon on ethanol? I have been chairman of the Alcohol Fuels Caucus in the House and in the Senate. CAVUTO: So, when we had this push, and we had this push for alternative energy, are you saying now that you would be open to explore oil in other regions of this country, if the president were to give in on maybe raising the CAFE standards and some of this other stuff? Do we have common ground there? DURBIN: Remember what I said? Environmentally responsible exploration. I just don't think that we should assume that we are so dependent on heavy SUVs that get 10 and 12 miles a gallon, that we are going to go drilling in a wilderness area that President Eisenhower set aside over 50 years ago. xxx CAVUTO: Senator, do you think, though, with your zeal to save the environment, and some of these blended fuels that we have to have in order to meet those new environmental requirements, that, with the best of intentions, you're the one who is gouging Americans at the pump? DURBIN: I beg your pardon. No, sir. CAVUTO: They're paying higher prices for that environmentally blended standard fuel. DURBIN: Let me tell you, you know, Neil, what you haven't mentioned in the whole show, oil company profits. Why isn't that part of your conversation?
xxx If ExxonMobil has now broken all records, in terms of corporate profits, if their CEO is given a retirement gift of $400 million, doesn't that bother you a little bit to think that the average family and the average is subsidizing that kind of greed? CAVUTO: Senator, could I ask you this? When crude oil goes up and what they produce is something based on that crude oil, it's not a mystery their profits go up, right? So, you're not against the profits they are making, or are you? DURBIN: Neil, Neil, I'm not for nationalizing oil, if that's what you are suggesting. CAVUTO: Then what are you for? DURBIN: There's no correlation between the increase in the price of a barrel of oil and what we are paying at the pump. And if you want to know why, take a look at the corporate profits of the oil companies. CAVUTO: So, would you tax those profits? DURBIN: They're making money hand over fist. CAVUTO: Would you tax those profits? DURBIN: Absolutely, I would. Absolutely. CAVUTO: Above and beyond what they want? Just like Jimmy Carter did in the 1970s, the same thing, right? DURBIN: Well, I want to tell you something. A windfall profits tax would say to these oil companies once and for all, you can't rip us off at the pump day in and day out, for no good market reason, without a penalty. And the money should go back directly to consumers, who are paying these outrageous prices for gasoline. CAVUTO: Senator, do you know how much, out of curiosity, is built into a gallon of gasoline, the profits of the oil companies? Do you know what's the average? DURBIN: Well, let me see. ExxonMobil, what did they make in three months? It was $10 billion, if I'm not mistaken, the largest corporate profits in the history of the United States. CAVUTO: Maybe you could answer my question. It's about 9 cents. Do you know how much taxes are, Senator? About 50 cents. DURBIN: Let me tell you.... CAVUTO: So, don't you think you should be more focused on the tax-gouging than necessarily the profit-gouging? DURBIN: How do you explain their profits after taxes? You're ignoring that, Neil. You don't want to talk about it. CAVUTO: Are you ignoring the taxes? Senator, I'm asking you simply, are you ignoring the taxes? Would you roll back those taxes? DURBIN: No. I'm telling you the taxes pay for the roads that we use. CAVUTO: Would you roll back those taxes?
xxx DURBIN: No. Let me tell you, you look at the traffic congestion in America and the need for mass transit, you want to cut the source of funding to deal with that congestion? You're wrong. We have got to have taxation of users of our roads, in order to keep them safe and to keep them modern and to build mass transit. Neil, you can't walk away from that. CAVUTO: So, $50 cents a gallon, the taxes are OK? The 9 cent profit, that's not OK? DURBIN: Oh, stop the 9 cents. Talk about ExxonMobil's record profits, my friend. Four hundred million dollars for their CEO, aren't you a little embarrassed by that? CAVUTO: Are you worried, though, Senator, that you're mixing this argument here that, when people look at what is being paid for a gallon of gasoline, the problem... DURBIN: You didn't answer me, Neil.
CAVUTO: The oil companies are no saints, but you know what, Senator? I think you're a bigger sinner, because it's the tax- gouging that is killing Americans, not necessarily the price of the crude. DURBIN: Neil, you won't even answer my question. Four hundred million dollars for the CEO of ExxonMobil after the most profitable quarter in the history of American business, and you won't even address that? Do you realize the sacrifice that people watching this program, to subsidize those profits? CAVUTO: So, Senator, Senator, let me answer this. I'm no apologist for the oil companies. I think you know that. But when they were losing money... DURBIN: I'm not sure. CAVUTO: Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Senator. When they were losing money, and they were laying off workers, and they were shutting down plants, and you were doing nothing to encourage them to build refineries, now that they are making money, they are the evil guys, and you're not even acknowledging the problem with taxes, and you're saying they're the bad guys? So, Senator, I would just ask you, who is zooming who here? DURBIN: Let me just tell you, Neil, if the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And, from where you're sitting, every problem is about the government. The government messed it up again. Guess what? It's possible the private sector is gouging us. It's possible they are price-fixing. It's possible that they have these rapacious profits, at the expense of average businesses and farmers and families. And you got to accept it. It just may not be the government's fault, Neil. CAVUTO: So, and it might also be a strong global economy in China and India and our own economy doing well. You would acknowledge that something called supply and demand is also behind this... DURBIN: Oh, I sure would. You bet. CAVUTO: ... and not just evil oil companies?
DURBIN: Absolutely. CAVUTO: OK. DURBIN: There is an element of supply and demand. But let's be very conscious of the need of this country to move toward more energy independence. You know, when Maria Cantwell of Washington, my fellow senator, offered an amendment to move us toward energy independence on the last energy bill, it failed; the Republican side wouldn't support it, to set a goal for America to reduce its dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent? I wish we could call that amendment again today. CAVUTO: I wish we could get something done today. xxx
Durbin is worried about the environment, he wants safe drilling and exploration. That technology exists today.
xxx
Durbin takes credit for use of alternative fuel legislation, which created further problems with supply and demand with the new ethanol standards.
xxx
Durbin then takes off into a liberals favorite subjects, anti-big business and taxes. Durbin and his left-wingers can't stand the word profit, they are truly FDR liberals.
xxx
Durbin uses "fuzzy math", he can't reconcile Exxon profits of $.09 per gallon and federal tax of $.50 per gallon. Durbins anwer? Windfall profits taxes. Opec controls pricing based on world market and demand vs. supply. What "windfall" exists.
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A windfall is defined as a 'sudden, unexpected piece of good fortune or personal gain.' Economically speaking windfall is 'an unexpected profit from a business or other source. The term connotes gaining huge profits without working for them — for example, when oil companies profit from a temporary scarcity of oil.'
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Neither definition of windfall fits the liberal thinking. Profit is what disgusts liberals and they want it to spend. Durbin can only answer Cavuto through obfuscation.
xxx
Durbin fails to understand capitalism, publicly traded companies, futures markets, shareholders and carefully managed companies whose purpose is to make a profit and sustain itself as an ongoing entity.
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When healthcare is an issue the liberals go after the pharmecutical manufacturers and their profits as this becomes political expedient for their purposes. When politicians gauge what profit is too much the American society is threatened by Marxists who wish to control business as well as social mores.
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Durbin suggests using taxes on mass transportation. Aren't we already subsidizing a failing transportation company named Amtrak?
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Typical of FDR liberal thinking there is no plan of action with sound legislation and energy policies from the left. Unfortunately the right is mirroring liberal thinking while they earmarked the Bush energy plan with pork.

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A "War on Terror" Message for the Weak-Kneed

David Beamer, is the father of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Quite eloquently, Mr. Beamer addresses the new movie, Flight 93, and the war on terror. Here is a portion of Beamer's commentary:
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There are those who question the timing of this project and the painful memories it evokes. Clearly, the film portrays the reality of the attack on our homeland and its terrible consequences. Often we attend movies to escape reality and fantasize a bit. In this case and at this time, it is appropriate to get a dose of reality about this war and the real enemy we face. It is not too soon for this story to be told, seen and heard. But it is too soon for us to become complacent. It is too soon for us to think of this war in only national terms. We need to be mindful that this enemy, who made those holes in our landscape and caused the deaths of some 3,000 of our fellow free people, has a vision to personally kill or convert each and every one of us. This film reminds us that this war is personal. This enemy is on a fanatical mission to take away our lives and liberty -- the liberty that has been secured for us by those whose names are on those walls in Battery Park and so many other walls and stones throughout this nation. This enemy seeks to take away the free will that our Creator has endowed in us. Patrick Henry got it right some 231 years ago. Living without liberty is not living at all. This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the "War on Terror." This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal. There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life. Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact. May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word "surrender" in their dictionary. We must not have the word "retreat" in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.
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Wall Street Journal Commentary (Subscription Required)

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Ted Kennedy Full of Hot Air!

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) backs a bill that would effectively halt the proposed construction in Nantucket Sound of 130 wind turbines similar to this one in Hull. The bill would give Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney the power to veto the Cape Wind plan.
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Momentum is building in Congress to buck Kennedy's bid to block the proposed Cape Cod wind energy project, potentially reviving efforts to construct the sprawling windmill farm in Nantucket Sound. The efforts to move the wind farm forward occur amid growing attention to Kennedy's role in the secret, behind-the-scenes maneuvering to stop it.
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The Boston Globe reports:
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Environmental groups have launched an aggressive advertising and lobbying campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon Kennedy and back a promising source of renewable energy. If the wind farm becomes a reality, advocates say, it could provide three-fourths of the Cape and Islands' energy needs and could set an example for the nation. The maneuver to stop the wind farm ''is clearly a backroom deal, and they're going to get called publicly on it," said John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA. ''The Democrats are going to kill the first big offshore wind farm in the United States because of their relationship with Ted Kennedy."
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The 130-turbine, 24-square-mile cluster of windmills would be about 8 miles from Kennedy's home in Hyannis Port, and he has long opposed it. Maybe Teddy could stand on the Cape Cod coast with his liberal friends and hold their filibuster. That would create more than enough renewable energy, although their pollution would be an environmental disaster.

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Mississippi Republicans "Railroad to Nowhere" and other Irresponsible Earmarks

The more we discuss congress attacking "big oil" for making money, the more we question the Repubican controlled congress to stop the earmarks and reduce spending. In other words, become fiscally conservative and responsible.
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The Heritage Foundation reports how congress is busy misappropriating money even though President Bush threatens to veto the current spending bill. Let's not hold our breath on a veto.
  • Republican Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran attached $700 million to reroute a railroad to facilitate casino development in Mississippi. The project is now being dubbed, "The Railroad to Nowhere."
  • $4 billion for a farm bailout even as the farm economy booms.
  • $594 million in additional highway spending (on the heels of last year’s $286 billion highway bill).
  • $1.1 billion for the fisheries industry.
  • $2.3 billion to combat avian flu (on the heels of $3.8 billion appropriated last December).
  • An additional $20 million more for poorly managed AmeriCorps program.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who successfully challenged Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere", is planning to challenge the funding when the $106.5 billion war spending bill reaches the Senate floor. "American taxpayers are generous and are happy to restore damaged property, but it is wrong for senators to turn this tragedy into a giveaway for economic developers."

"We have real needs that we have to meet for rebuilding in the Gulf Coast, and with our tight budgets, this is almost a zero-sum game," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "And now we're taking about moving a railroad that's been rebuilt already? That doesn't make sense."

"There's nothing wrong with this if Mississippi wants to do it. Mississippi wanted to do it before the hurricane," Coburn said. "But why is it a federal responsibility? Why should our grandchildren pay for it?"

President Bush has asked for a line-item veto, which congress doesn't seem likely to grant. If the President wishes to rebuild any political capital with conservatives, now is the time to use his veto option to send a clear message to House and Senate Republicans. It's time to become fiscally responsible, quit chasing big oil, and clean up your own mess.

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Congressional Republicans Have Gas!

Ronald Reagan favored, and any respectable conservative favors deregulation, respecting free market enterprise. Self-respecting conservatives don't allow FDR business regulations that border on totalitarian tactics, to control businesses with government taxes and authoritarian rule.
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A vote is possible as early as this week on the Senate GOP approach, which calls for $100 rebate checks for taxpayers to cushion the impact of higher gasoline prices. These are publicly traded business, with shareholders. Unless there is law breaking, something congress has never been able to prove, then ridiculous calls to ignore facts and play politics is harmful and embarrassing.
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Senate Republicans also favor extending a tax break that manufacturers receive for each hybrid vehicle they make, and want President Bush to suspend deliveries to the nation's strategic petroleum reserve for six months. Hybrids haven't proved they are completely reliable and congress shouldn't be dictating what car manufacturers produce.
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This is an election year and panic is setting in. Republicans are in a mess because they mismanaged their roles as tax cutters and keepers of tight budgets. They have become their own enemy and are using oil companies as their whipping post.
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One Democrat actually has a plan. PRICE MANIPULATION! Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has proposed a 60-day suspension in the federal tax on gasoline and diesel, a holiday that he says would cut the cost of gasoline by more than 18 cents a gallon and reduce the price of diesel fuel by more than 24 cents a gallon. Why not cut the taxes on gasoline permanently, that would help consumers and produce more revenue in the long run.
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Look at the hypocrisy, which really demonstrates politicians remain clueless. Both Republicans and Democrats said they planned to support rescinding the $2 billion in tax breaks, which included subsidies for exploration in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and in geologically or politically difficult regions of the world, as well as royalty relief for certain oil and gas exploration. Executives of the major oil companies said at a recent hearing they do not need those tax breaks.
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Gas prices are soaring, congress is angry over companies showing huge profits (they prefer Enron type entities) and they already provide incentives to big oil who said they didn't need the breaks.
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House and Senate conferees, as part of a broader tax package, were also considering a measure that would change accounting rules involving oil held in inventory, which would force the five biggest oil companies to pay an additional $4.3 million in taxes. Congress wants to suddenly change accounting rules, singling out five companies. This type of policy switch flies in the face of supply and demand, which is set naturally by the markets.
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Desperate politicians enjoy tossing out huge numbers so the average citizen feels they are being gouged. Larges profit numbers are simply proportionate to large revenues, matched by very large expenses. If congress is so upset with profits why did they originally legislative tax incentives to the same people they are now taking to the wood shed?
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Congress should immediately authorize drilling in Anwar, and off the Florida coast. If we have oil available in the ground, it's our responsibility to safely retrieve it, not prevent the businesses we rely on to be handcuffed and dragged through the politically mud.
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It would be interesting to see who in congress owns Exxon or other oil company stock. My recommendation, purchase Exxon stock, it's currently rated as a very "strong buy."

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Waaahhhhhhh...Alec Baldwin Temper Tantrum

Actor Alec Baldwin demonstrated why he has previously won our "Moon Bat Award." xxx Acclaimed New York theater actress has quit the Off-Broadway play "Entertaining Mr. Sloane," charging that the volatile behavior of the show's star - Alec Baldwin - has "created an unhealthy and oppressive situation" on stage and off." xxx Jan Maxwell, who won rave reviews for her performance in Joe Orton's black comedy, wrote in an e-mail to a friend that Baldwin's frequent temper tantrums - including putting his fist through a wall because the air conditioning wasn't high enough - also caused her to fear for her "physical safety, mental health and artistic integrity." xxxx Baldwins actions sum up our feelings toward him and his political attacks against President Bush. Thought he was leaving the country? xxx Source: The New York Post

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When A Girl's Gotta Do What A Girl's Gotta Do

These are the words of Kim Roberts, the "other" stripper involved in the Duke "rape" case." While the "victims" change their stories and provide quotes as to the real motivation, two Duke sophomores find their pictures pasted all over the media.
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In the beginning stripper Ms. Roberts, who performed at a Duke University lacrosse team party doubted the story of her striptease partner, who told police she was dragged into a bathroom and raped. But wait! "I was not in the bathroom when it happened, so I can't say a rape occurred — and I never will," Roberts told the Associated Press. "In all honesty, I think they're guilty," she said. "And I can't say which ones are guilty ... but somebody did something besides underage drinking. That's my honest-to-God impression." Roberts, 31, was arrested on March 22 — eight days after the party — on a probation violation from a 2001 conviction for embezzling $25,000 from a photo finishing company in Durham where she was a payroll specialist, according to documents obtained by the AP. Last Thursday, 5W Public Relations, a New York firm that specializes in "crisis communication," distributed an e-mail signed "The 2nd Dancer," and Roberts confirmed she sent it after learning the AP knew her identity. The email states, "Although I am no celebrity and just an average citizen, I've found myself in the center of one of the biggest stories in the country. I'm worried about letting this opportunity pass me by without making the best of it and was wondering if you had any advice as to how to spin this to my advantage. I am determined not to let any negative publicity about my life overtake me." Roberts’s position is, "Why shouldn't I profit from it?" she said when questioned about her willingness to profit from her colleague's alleged rape - or the ruin of two young men who may be innocent of the charges. "I didn't ask to be in this position ... I would like to feed my daughter. If the boys are innocent, sorry fellas," she said. "Sorry you had to go through this." Roberts’s asking price for her story is $25,000, the same amount she was convicted of embezzling. I’m sure the price will go up when she figures in long-term costs, such as legal fees, and future living expenses. Why isn't this story a Fox News Alert?
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Bush's Day Off from Economic Realities

President Bush has joined the paranoid, deciding to tangle with the political explosive issue of gasoline prices by succumbing to Frist, Hassert and........Schumer! Instead of discussing free markets and explaining why gasoline prices are up Mr. Bush has decided to take the low road and dwell with the uneducated. It has become "duck for cover" and appeasement to congressional incompetents who make laws that enhance the energy problems.
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As described here yesterday, Congress passed legislation taking care of the ethanol lobby that forces drivers to use 7.5 billion gallons annually of that oxygenate by 2012.
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The politicians are ignoring the facts of global supply and demand. Investigations of price gouging have been done before to no avail. This current act of congress with Bush's support is nothing more than election year politics, while ignoring economics. Let's sort fact from fiction.
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When you pump $20 dollars into your tank, that money is broken up into little pieces that get distributed among several entities. Gas is just like any other consumer product: There's a supply chain and several groups who are responsible for setting the price of the product. The media can sometimes lead you to believe that the price of gas is based solely on the price of crude oil, but there are actually many factors that determine what you pay at the pump. No matter how expensive gas becomes, all of these entities have to get their slice of the pie.
  • CRUDE OIL- The biggest portion of the cost of gas -- as of February 2006, that's about 59 percent -- goes to the crude-oil suppliers. This is determined by the world's oil-exporting nations, particularly the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which you will learn more about in the next section. The amount of crude oil these countries produce determines the price of a barrel of oil.
  • REFINING COSTS- The refining of crude oil makes up about 10 percent of the price of gasoline.
  • DISTRIBUTION/MARKETING - Crude oil is transported to refineries, and gasoline is shipped from the refineries to distribution points and then to gas stations. The price of transportation is passed along to the consumer. Marketing the brand of the oil company is also added into the cost of the gasoline you buy. Together, these two factors account for about 11 percent of the price of gasoline.
  • TAXES - Taxes, including federal and local, account for about 20 percent of the total price of gas in the United States. Federal excise taxes are 18.4 cents per gallon, and state excise taxes average 20 cents per gallon. There may also be some additional state sales taxes, as well as local and city taxes.
  • STATION MARKUP- In order to stay in business, service stations have to add on a few more cents to make a profit. There's no set standard for how much gas stations add on to the price. Some may add just a couple of cents, while others may add as much as a dime or more.

Taxes are probably the biggest factor in the different prices around the country. Additionally, competition among local gas stations can drive prices down. Distance from the oil refineries can also affect prices -- stations closer to the Gulf of Mexico, where many oil refineries are located, have lower gas prices due to lower transportation costs. There are also some regional factors that can affect prices. World events, wars and weather can also raise prices. Anything that affects any part of the process, from the moment the oil is drilled, through refining and distribution to your car will result in a change in price. Military conflicts in parts of the world with lots of oil supplies can make it difficult for oil companies to drill and ship crude oil. Hurricanes have damaged offshore drilling platforms, coastal refineries and shipping ports that receive oil tankers. If a tanker itself is lost or damaged, or leaks its oil into the ocean, that will put a dent in the market as well.

This explanation doesn't ease the pain but it is based on facts. The congress, as stated above, as contributed to the problem via legislation. Bush signed that law and he has jumped on board the political train going downhill!

Source: How Gas Prices Work

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FairTax Blogburst

“Every new sweeping tax law Congress enacts -— always called a ‘reform’ —- makes the job even more complicated and, if possible, more confusing. And the tax code longer. But we’re all supposed to swear, on penalty of perjury, that we’ve done our best to find it… Is tax reform the answer? It’s more like the problem, since every reform tends to complicate tax law only more. And the longer and worse the tax code gets, the less chance there is of really reforming the thing. What to do? Don’t mend it, end it. Abolish the tax code and start all over. Think about it: Would anybody starting from scratch come up with a system as indecipherable and counterproductive as the one we’ve got? So why not opt for a clean break with the past? Abolish the Internal Revenue Code and begin anew.” —Paul Greenberg “[The tax code] is a monstrosity and there’s only one thing to do with it. Scrap it, kill it, drive a stake through its heart, bury it and hope it never rises again to terrorize the American people.” -Steve Forbes I can think of not one single person who thinks that the income tax is not broken. As Paul Greenberg asks above, “Would anyone starting from scratch come up with a system as indecipherable and counterproductive as the one we’ve got?” Not hardly. The only question is, what do we replace it with? This week we’re going to keep it short and simple, because you have a homework assignment. We can argue till the cows come home about the relative benefits of the Fair Tax, the Flat Tax, and the Income Tax (are there benefits to the Income Tax?), but “the proof is in the pudding”, as they say. Please take the time you might spend reading a longer post, and visit The FairTax Calculator. There are eight (8) fields to complete, you’ll probably need your income tax return and a current paycheck for yourself and your spouse (if you’re married). After doing that, click “Submit” to get your results. Don’t forget to read the note at the bottom of the screen regarding your FICA (Social Security) taxes! Then comment on this blog regarding the results. Would you like to see the FairTax implemented? I’m betting the answer will be a resounding Yes!

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Are Journalists Above the Law?

Patrick Buchanan asks if journalists deserve the Pulitzer Prize or prison sentences for knowingly disseminating classified information of the U.S. Government. In "Of Pulitzer and Treason" Buchanan writes:
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Journalists are rising to her defense, describing [Mary] McCarthy as a whistle-blower -- i.e., someone who calls the government to account for wrongdoing. But there is no evidence President Bush or U.S. agencies were doing anything criminal by using secret sites provided by NATO allies to interrogate terror suspects plotting to murder Americans. If U.S. officials are engaged in misconduct or atrocities at these bases -- i.e., the torture of prisoners -- no one has said so. Reportedly, an E.U. investigation of the U.S. secret sites in Europe turned up nothing. What does it say about American journalism that it gives its most prestigious prizes to reporters who acquire and reveal illicitly leaked U.S. secrets, when the result is to damage the U.S. government in a time of war? Both the Times and Post got their Pulitzers for fencing secrets of the U.S. government, criminally leaked by disloyal public servants they continue to protect. Query: If McCarthy deserves firing, disgrace and possibly prison for what she did, does the Post deserve congratulations for collaborating with and covering up her infidelity, deceit and possible criminality? Are journalists above the law? Are they entitled to publish secrets, the leaking of which can put their sources in jail for imperiling the national security? What kind of business has journalism become in 2006? Scooter Libby is to be tried for perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury investigating whether he leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, in a White House campaign to discredit war critic Joe Wilson. Larry Franklin of the Pentagon got 12 years for leaking military secrets to the Israeli lobby. McCarthy deserves the same treatment. She should be prosecuted and, if convicted, spend the next decade in prison. Whether this war was a mistake or not, no one has a right to sabotage the war effort. Not even journalists.
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We concur. It seems journalists are keeping their eye on two prizes. Bring down the Bush Administration at all costs and winning the Pulitzer. American safety is not a part of their paradigm.

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Classified Information - Leak Debate

Bill Bennett appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room to discuss the fired CIA officer who apparently disclosed classified information. Last week Bennett made headlines when he said those who report classified information should be jailed. Today, Bennett stood by his remark and thinks that if found guilty, reporters should go to jail. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post was on to balance Bennett, and it was obvious where he stood. Kurtz suggested that reporters, who report classified information, thus declassifying it, should be protected behind the first amendment, even during wartime. Video below:
DOWNLOAD – .WMV
DOWNLOAD – .MP4
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CIA Leaker McCarthy Begins Damage Control

Newsweek is reporting former CIA officer Mary McCarthy who was fired last week after allegedly confessing to leaking secrets has denied she was the source of a controversial Washington Post story about alleged CIA secret detention operations in Eastern Europe. McCarthy's lawyer, Ty Cobb, told Newsweek this that contrary to public statements by the CIA late last week, McCarthy never confessed to agency interrogators that she had divulged classified information and "didn't even have access to the information" in The Washington Post story in question.
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CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano re-affirmed on Monday that an agency official had been fired after acknowledging “unauthorized contacts with the media and discussion of classified information” with journalists.
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After some thought and legal counsel, Ms. McCarthy suddenly feels the prospect of retiring to a federal prison isn't too attractive. Is this part of the John Kerry, I did it before I didn't do it? Must be a liberal thing!

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Election Year 2006

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Source: The Hill

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Oil Price Panic - Republicans Take The Lead

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-TN) urged President Bush in a letter Monday to order a federal investigation into any gasoline price gouging or market speculation. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush had already done so, but had not revealed it publicly.
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Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) wants to go further and impose stricter "antitrust" laws for oil companies, as well as a "windfall profits" tax.
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Playing election year politics and following the polling numbers is ignoring free market economics. Congress has created some of the problems by its own hand.
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Discussed on the Journal Report on FOX this weekend and The Wall Street Journal reports today:
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Congress's passed legislation taking care of the ethanol lobby that forces drivers to use 7.5 billion gallons annually of that oxygenate by 2012. At the same time, Congress refused to provide liability protection to the makers of MTBE, a rival oxygenates getting hit with lawsuits. So MTBE makers are leaving the market in a rush, while overstretched ethanol producers (despite their promises) are in no way equipped to compensate for the loss of MTBE in the fuel supply. Ethanol is also difficult to ship and store outside of the Midwest, which is causing supply headaches and spot gas shortages along the East Coast and Texas. As recently as last year, ethanol was selling for $1.45 a gallon. By December it had reached $2 and is now going for $2.77. So refiners are now having to buy both oil and ethanol at sky-high prices. In short, the only market manipulation has been by politicians.
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The politicians are ignoring the facts of global supply and demand. Investigations of price gouging have been done before to no avail. This current act of congress with Bush's support is nothing more than election year politics, while ignoring economics.
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The switch from MTBE to ethanol has created refining problems and has artificially created supply issues in the short-term. Prices will begin to decline but insufficiently enough to satisfy consumers during the summer months. Republicans, once again, have mismanaged their majority and will pay the price, not at the pump, but at the polls.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

CIA Leaker's Mostly Deadly Sin

Andrew C. McCarthy (no relation to Mary McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies asks, “Why isn’t she in cuffs?” at National Review Online. The case against McCarthy, moreover, is said to involve not just a single illegal disclosure of the Nation's secrets, but several. One prominent instance is reported to involve alerting the press that the CIA had arrangements with overseas intelligence services for the detention of high-level al Qaeda detainees captured in the war on terror — from whom the culling of intelligence is critical to the safety of Americans. The so-called "black site" prisons were later publicized by Dana Priest of the Washington Post, jeopardizing not only the detainee intelligence stream but, just as importantly, America's relationship with the cooperating governments — on whom we rely because of our global dearth of intelligence assets, and who are now incentivized to cut-off information exchanges because they believe (with some obvious justification) that our intelligence community is not trustworthy. As a result of all this, McCarthy was fired, stripped of her security clearance, and escorted from the CIA's premises last Thursday. Yet, she has not been arrested. Federal law, specifically, Section 793(d) of Title 18, United States Code, clearly makes it an offense, punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment, for anyone who lawfully has access to national defense information — including information which "the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation" — to willfully communicate that information to any person not entitled to have it. McCarthy had access to classified information about our wartime national defense activities by virtue of her official position at the CIA. The compromise of that information appears to have been devastating to U.S. intelligence efforts — in wartime, no less. CIA Director Porter Goss testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February that the "damage" from leaks "has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission." The unauthorized disclosures were also, patently, a boon to several foreign nations, which have used it to put immense pressure — under the guise of international law — on countries that heretofore have been willing to run the risk of helping the United States battle terrorists. Mary McCarthy's position--the post from which she is likely to have learned the most sensitive information at the heart of the leak controversy--was inside the CIA's inspector general's office. This is the unit that investigates internal misconduct. This is the unit to which government employees are encouraged to report government abuse or illegality so it can be investigated, potentially reported to Congress, and prosecuted if appropriate. That is, it is the legal alternative to leaking national secrets to the media. It is, therefore, the process that has to be protected if our intelligence community is to have credibility with the public and with the foreign intelligence services on which we are so dependent. If it becomes just another Washington sieve--a place where people who comply with their oaths and exercise professional discretion may nevertheless expect to find the information they confide trumpeted on Page One of the Washington Post--we are guaranteed to have much more leaking. And much less security. Mary McCarthy's position — the post from which she is likely to have learned the most sensitive information at the heart of the leak controversy — was inside the CIA's inspector general's office. This is the unit that investigates internal misconduct. This is the unit to which government employees are encouraged to report government abuse or illegality so it can be investigated, potentially reported to Congress, and prosecuted if appropriate.
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Let's hope Ms. McCarthy doesn't get the slap on the hands provided Sandy Berger, former Clinton national-security adviser who admitted stealing classified information from the national archives and lied about it to investigators. It's time the Department of Justice send a strong message to government employees who feel compelled to break the law.

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Defensive Driving

Driving instructors always discuss driving "Defensively.' Here's why:
"Potentially dire consequences...can occur while driving distracted or drowsy." So says National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration administrator Jacqueline Glassman, based on an NHTSA report released yesterday showing that nearly 80% of crashes involve drivers who were using a cellphone, putting on makeup, reading email or otherwise not paying attention.
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While it took researchers several years to sift through 43,000 hours of driving data to figure that out, the chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association didn't need so much time to imagine the road ahead: "I urge legislators not to interpret these results as a need for new legislative initiatives," Lt. Col. Jim Champagne told the AP. "It is simply not good public policy to pass laws addressing every type of driver behavior." Though one wonders: How many points for a lipstick ticket?
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80% of the crashes are from ridiculous activity while driving and they say no to legislation?

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

More Bull from Durham...Duke Lined-Up

Sorry, was the Duke lacrosse team in a lineup or lined-up? We have already discussed the "race card" issue and a lack of "due process."
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Next up, a lineup that is so one-sided it will probably not be admitted into evidence, and if it is, will be thrown out of court based on lack of merit.
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A 15-page document shown to Darla Miles of WTVD, an ABC-owned station in Durham, N.C., described how the alleged rape victim, a 27-year-old exotic dancer and mother of two, identified three lacrosse players as those who she said attacked her the night of March 13. After being shown the pictures in a sequence of PowerPoint slides, the document adds, the woman said she could identify the two players indicted April 17 with 100 percent certainty. She picked out Reade Seligmann as the attacker who forced her to perform oral sex and Collin Finnerty as the second man to rape and sodomize her. She said she also could identify with 90 percent certainty the first man who raped and sodomized her. This attacker has not been arrested as of today, though District Attorney Mike Nifong said at the beginning of the week that he was looking to make a third arrest. However, an eyewitness identification expert believes the police lineup procedure was flawed because no non-lacrosse players were included. Gary Wells, president of the American Psychology-Law Society, described it as "a multiple-choice test without any wrong answers." By including "fillers," or non-suspects, in a police lineup, an accuser has to pick past the filler to choose people who actually might have committed the crime. "Without fillers as a control, the process has no internal credibility check," Wells said. David Rudolf, a North Carolina defense lawyer who has been an adjunct professor at Duke and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, believes the procedures may be problematic to the point of being inadmissible in court. "I have significant doubt that this will be admitted in court," he said, "and no doubt defense will challenge it vigorously." The issue, Rudolf explains, is that due process prohibits evidence from lineups that are unnecessarily suggestive and conducive to mistaken identity. "When you take the only suspect group and put it in front of the victim," Rudolf says, "by definition you're suggesting it was one of the 46 people in that group."
This method for a "lineup" is using the "power of suggestion" and obviously flawed by it's prejudice. The DA appears to be telling the alledged victim, "we're with you, just pick out a couple of faces, we'll do the rest."
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It's not surprising that Josh Marquis, a prosecutor and board member of the National District Attorneys Association, "Someone identifying someone with 100 percent is very powerful piece of evidence in court — though like all eyewitness testimony it has to be tested by a jury."
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Prosecuters don't mind putting in the "fix" on a case as long as they get a conviction? Forget evidence, forget due process, forget credible witnesses. As long as the alledged victim points out faces from one particular group, it's ok! Forget credibility. Is this what is meant by "Blind Justice?"

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