Hollywood in all its usual glory has put out a new video regarding Proposition 8: Proposition 8, The Musical, Anti-Christian?
At first glance it would appear so. Certainly, Jack Black is not a normal Christ figure, as he carries around his shrimp cocktail and opines about the absurdity of the Bible. Follow the link and see for yourself.
Hollywood in all its usual glory has put out a new video regarding Proposition 8: Proposition 8, The Musical, Anti-Christian?
Somewhere right now there's a Japanese guy putting extraordinary care into the details of a female robot. For most of us Americans, this is where we kind of giggle uncomfortably and wonder whether we should look away. Not so for our Pearl Harbor friends. According to Science Daily, “The Japanese, on the other hand, are very comfortable with humanoid robots, and I think it is something to do with the Shinto religion that believes machines can have a soul.”
A soul? Pardon my American disbelief and straightforwardness, but I'm going to guess the little guy in the lab coat with the obsessed look on his face doesn't have those kind of intentions.
I first started noticing this developing trend several years ago with stories about the Japanese seeking friendship from robotic pets. I'm not sure what this says about a culture that it can find genuine adoration for anything that moves and looks remotely lifelike, but I'm pretty sure it's something impersonal.
Then the really weird stuff started happening. They started creating robots that looked as lifelike as possible (not Disney World animatronic lifelike, but, you know, lonely geek lifelike). The original videos of these early attempts I'm unable to find, but here's a more successful recent try:
Still not quite Disney, but I probably wouldn't touch it without gloves on if it had been left alone with any engineers.
And here's another female robot that is apparently capable of learning self-defense if the placement of her right hand is any indication:
And then it just got really sad. Apparently, you can have a lot of fun with female robots, but if you want a child out of it, you have to go back to the lab:
Five-year-old girl robot
But what if you just need to get away from the wife and daughter robot and have some intellectual conversation with a math-minded buddy? There's a solution to that, too:
That has to be the most incredible facial rendering I've ever seen. Unfortunately for Albert, he's a boy robot, and the rest of him wasn't quite as important to engineers. Unlike all the female robots, however, they did give him the ability to walk away. I don't think they'll ever develop that technology for the cuter gender.
Whenever there's a new transcript of a major speech to be had, we'll put it on the American Sentinel site so that it may be discected and used as amunition against the enemy.
To see the transcript of the Hillary Clinton speech at the Denver DNC Convention, go to: Transcript: Hillary Clinton DNC Covention Speech Denver
My wife and I are movie fans, but we have hardly seen anything since the birth of my little tomboy who will turn 6 tomorrow. Lately, we decided we were going to start making a point of having more time together and renewing our movie watching. So far, we aren't having much luck at finding good movies, but we are flying through the money pretty quickly (I absolutely have to eat popcorn if I'm going to a movie. I just do.)
I think our biggest problem is that I always pick the movies. Seriously, I can sleep at home through Jennifer Anniston making life decisions, my wife sniffling in the bed next to me. I don't need the enormous screen, the theater sound and the drum of greasy popcorn--just a pillow and a blanket. When I'm at the theater, I want to see big, loud stuff.
Hey, I'm just being honest.
So our first trip was to The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan. He's never quite recaptured the magic he had with The Sixth Sense, but I've always enjoyed, to a degree anyway, his other lightweight garbage. The Happening was something else altogether. The dialogue was absolutely painful. When the audience winces through an actor's lines, that's a problem.
Secondly, the movie seemed to be missing things. Apparently Marky Mark's wife wasn't committed to the marriage. At least, this seemed to be an essential theme to the movie. But it just seemed to come out of nowhere, a completely undeveloped line of thought just tossed into the pot as a plot thickener.
(spoiler) And of course, there was the environmental factor. The point of the movie is that plants feel endangered by humans and start letting off toxic chemicals that make humans kill themselves.
The Dark Knight
This was an awesome movie. That's all I'm going to say about it at this point. I'm busy complaining.
I wanted to see this because I suspected that a scary movie with Jack Baur would be good. I was terribly mistaken. My wife and I got into a Dynasty type fight in the parking lot over which movie was worse. I said The Happening. She said Mirrors.
"You just don't remember how bad The Happening was," I said as we tumbled into a water fountain, our hands around each other's throats.
The worst part about Mirrors for me was the boredom, which is nearly the opposite of scary. For my wife it was all the gore plus the boredom. She only almost threw up once during The Happening. It was a constant struggle during Mirrors.
And as with most horror flicks, there were really puzzling behaviors and issues of logic. If you are scared, you don't pay as much attention to these problems. If you are merely puzzled and bored, they are fatal flaws. Only a complete idiot or James Bond would have continued wandering through the giant burned out building that is the primary location for the movie. I don't even think Jack Baur or The Dark Knight would do it. And the insanity at the end of the movie, which I won't go into detail about, is so far beyond logical thought as to be bordering on DNC Convention type logic.
So I'm at the hospital where my father's surgery has gone poorly, and I've had nothing but 72 ounces of coffee all day, and so I leave and head down to a restaurant I've never tried before, Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
I had considered eating there once before, but didn't because the wife and kids were along and a quick glance at the menu indicated that we would have to forgo our Disney trip to eat there. But now, coming down out of St. Mary's parking lot by myself, I thought I would have a go at it. Still, I was a bit shocked when the cashier said, "That'll be $12.10." My order: a cheeseburger, fries and Coke.
I didn't want to eat in the restaurant. I wanted to eat in the car where the comforting sounds of a local sports talk show could help distract me from thinking about Dad. So I ordered it to go and, eventually, they called me, number 92, to come grab my paper bag with the $12.10 unhappy meal tucked inside.
Sitting in my car, I turn on the radio and start to listen to the conversation regarding the SEC's new television package while I eat my fries. I always eat my fries first because they don't retain heat as long as burgers do and taste best when hottest.
The fries, which were advertised as being cooked in 100% peanut oil, tasted like they were cooked in 100% peanut oil. They were limp, oily and earthy and tasted like I'd made them from scratch at home with the oil at too low a temperature. They came in a 24 oz styrofoam cup. They were fine, but not great.
Thinking I was done with the fries, I reached into the bag and found what seemed like an awfully large amount of fries that had fallen out of the cup. A glance into the bag revealed that there were probably 5 large potatoes worth of fries lying in the bag, probably 3 times as many as were in the cup. I sprinkled salt in the bag and, ketchup long since vanquished, began eating the huge pile of limp, home style fries. Quickly, though, I realized that I was not going to be able to eat the hamburger if I didn't quit, so I gave up on the fries, which is always a hard thing for me to do. 40 years of the clean plate club went down the tubes.
The hamburger, which came with a large variety of options, many of which only an insane person would place on their burger, was too large to fit into the average sized mouth. Fortunately, it was no problem for me. The hamburger was big and, again, reminded me of something I would make at home, only about twice the size.
I suppose that the biggest problem I have with them is the cost. The food was fine, but for $12 I expect to be more than just overwhelmed with quantity (which I don't know would have happened had I eaten in instead of 'to go'). I expect to get true value, which includes a significant portion of quality.
The first decision came in middle school when I took up a bet regarding physical prowess. I won the bet, which awarded me bragging rights and a set of matching inguinal hernias. The second decision came when I went off on my first "just the guys" outing at age sixteen. Without parents around, a gang of us decided to take a skiing weekend in the mountains of North Carolina. On the way, we stopped at a convenience store and purchased what every Southern boy needs at age 16, beer and snuff. I've always been able to put the beer down, but the nicotine held me hostage for over twenty years. I'm thankful, at least, that it was Skoal and not Marlboros.
Back to middle school, my parents took me to the doctor regarding my hernias. Way ahead of his time, the doctor said they were only small and just to keep an eye on them. That sounded good to me. Keeping an eye on them slowly moved to eyeing them with weary agony my senior year in college. Years of weight lifting and sports had ripped the left hernia wide open and made the right one a bit worse. The doctors agreed the left one needed work right away. The surgeon said the right one could continue to wait. One hernia gone and life goes on...and on...and on...
After college, most of the weight lifting quit. Exercise at the track was good enough. That right hernia grew very slowly. Every now and then it would give me problems when jogging or after a great deal of lifting, but it was mostly an afterthought. Something like fifteen years later (don't worry about the math), I contracted pneumonia--and not the "walking" kind. After a few months of nonstop, lung wracking coughs, my hernia was in pretty bad shape. I didn't have time for that, though, and just kept going. Exercise became nearly impossible and when I had to occasionally stop what I was doing to cram painfully trapped intestines back into my abdominal muscle cavity (not always indiscreetly), I decided to see the doctor. The hernia was about the size of a grapefruit.
Since I was going to be out of business for a couple of weeks (I refused laparoscopic surgery for the tried and true "open method"), I decided to multitask on my health and quit Skoal, a habit I hid from all but my wife, at the same time. So now I'm lying in bed, two hernias finally taken care of, wearing a nicotine patch.
Unfortunately, right before surgery, I had caught a cold. Coughing after hernia surgery is not recommended--the pain is excruciating. Between that and being laid up in bed, I decided nothing would be better than some tobacco. There would be time to quit later. I knew that ripping off the patch and using tobacco was dangerous, but I didn't care. I waited a few minutes then pulled out my emergency Skoal. True bliss. Maybe ten minutes later I had a coughing fit and something odd happened. A dark red streak of lightning appeared in my right eye's vision.
This was all I needed. Something weird with my eyes. I did some research and quickly ascertained that I had screwed up by overdosing on nicotine which constricted the vessels in my eyes. Combined with the blood thinning pain medication I was on after surgery, coughing caused a small vessel in the eye to leak. My vision was getting more and more obstructed. I called my eye doctor to see what he wanted me to do, and they wanted to see me right away.
One visit to the eye doctor got me an appointment with a retina specialist, though my vision was clearing. My theory that I had overdosed on nicotine while on blood thinning medication wasn't playing well. The retina specialist said it appeared I might have an underlying condition, likely atherosclerosis, and that I needed to see my internist. My internist couldn't see the vessels in my eye as well as the retina specialist. After ruling out causes like diabetes and Lupus, it was determined that my 136 cholesterol score was simply "too high for my genetics" even though I had no one in my family with heart disease. I must have hardening of the arteries, we thought, so I was put on Crestor. One month later my cholesterol was 63, and I was dying of rhabdomyolysis, that rare but dangerous condition you always hear about in the statin drug commercials.
I essentially lost the use of my arms and hands. The pain was tremendous. Not to worry, though. I was taken off Crestor and told my condition would improve. We would monitor my liver and when everything was back to normal, maybe we'd cut my dosage in half. Fast forward three months, and I was still having a difficulty gripping items and couldn't toss a ball a few feet to my toddler daughter. Blood tests showed that my muscles were still being broken down. Three months later, I was in a similar condition, and I started to have muscle twitches all over, non-stop, 24 hours a day. I call my doctor.
At the doctor's office, I'm told that ALS is likely my problem. A second internist comes in and examines me, arriving at the same conclusion. I probably have ALS. They call the premier neuromuscular specialist in the area and get me an appointment that's about three weeks away. I wander off in a daze and break the news to my family, my church, etc. There's still hope, but both doctors agreed that I likely was dying of ALS. That night I beg my way out of helping with Vacation Bible School because I'm so distracted. I go and sit in the chapel and pray instead. Later, not being officially diagnosed with anything, I go on a life insurance binge and buy $650,000 worth. I feel like I'm cheating and fear that the policies won't be honored. I don't really care. I'm just a dead guy waiting for confirmation from the neurologist.
Finally the wait is over, and I walk like a zombie into the neurologist office. They spend a great deal of time shooting electricity through my body, sticking me with long needles while watching a computer screen. Finally, they stop torturing me and the printer starts shooting out page after page of data. The neurologist is looking at the sheets (the pages are connected by perforations) as they come off the printer. Silently he examines them as I lay on the table. Finally, I can't stand it any more, and I say, "Pretty bad?"
"No, you're fine. I'm just looking through everything."
The feeling that washed over me at that moment was indescribable. I'd likely get to watch my 2 and 4 year old kids grow up after all. The neurologist told me it was the Crestor. That it caused long term changes that could take up to 18 months to get over--if you ever get completely over it. I was diagnosed with Cramp Fasciculation Syndrome caused by Crestor and sent on my merry way.
Not long after, I was told I didn't actually have hardening of the arteries after all. Maybe it had something to do with nicotine overdose and blood thinners.
I have since improved a great deal. I am no longer limited in any real way, but I continue to twitch and have pain and exercise takes a lot longer to recover from. In an effort to help my muscles and get more oxygen to them, I was put on a CPAP machine (I've always been a snorer). This was just recently. In fact, I purchased it right before I went on vacation to the beach. When you wear a CPAP at night, you have to keep your mouth shut. Apparently, during sleep I wasn't just shutting my mouth, I was clinching it. My jaw joints swelled and after swimming in the ocean and the pool, I caught a nasty bacterial infection that's not going quietly into that good night. My doctor told me yesterday I need to have a mouthpiece made by my dentist so that I don't have this happen again and gave me more drugs. Hopefully I'll be able to hear and chew soon. It's really annoying to have to suffer through this due to taking a bet in middle school, starting Skoal in high school, and ripping off a nicotine patch in frustration.
I can go back through my story here and find lots of people to sue. The store that sold me my Skoal even though I was underage; the manufacturer of Skoal; the doctors who incorrectly told me I had atherosclerosis; the people who make Crestor. And it sure would be nice if the government had paid all those medical bills. But me? I'm just glad to still be around and have a chance to make more decisions that will influence my future and the future of those around me--hopefully for the better.
By the time I was told that I likely had ALS, I had been off of nicotine for several months. Thinking I was dying and wanting nothing more than the comfort of that wonderful and terrible drug, I refused. As hard as it was, I saw no sense in piling a bad decision onto a bad situation. Now I'm free of the ALS fear and the nicotine, both.
Decisions matter, and I'm getting a tiny bit better every day--and it's coming from me. Isn't that better than expecting the government to come in save the day or to subsidize your own bad decisions? It sure feels better to me. And, yes, sometimes things don't go our way. Sometimes luck, good or bad, does play a role. Lou Gehrig stood before the New York Yankee fans, confirmed to have a disease that would soon be named for him, and told them he was, "The luckiest man on the face of the Earth." I have often felt shamed by that statement, that show of bravery. When that day comes for me, when either my decisions or circumstances create a situation that is too grave to overcome, I hope to go out as strongly, as positively, as did Lou Gehrig. Blaming no one. Just happy to have been here with a chance.
This is the press release from John McCain on the crisis in Georgia. It is a clear example of why we absolutely must elect McCain in November. This is no time for a hand-holding love-in. Russia is resurging. Jihad is still on the move. We need someone with character, leadership skills and experience.
Statement by John McCain on the Crisis in Georgia
By Press OfficeAugust 1, 2008
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery to the 2008 National Urban League Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, today at 11:00 a.m. EDT:
Thank you, Marc, for the introduction. I appreciate your kind invitation and this warm welcome to Orlando and to the Urban League. Through all the business cycles and political cycles of almost a century, this organization has championed an agenda of economic growth and opportunity. You've never lost your sense of mission, or your commitment to bettering the lives of African Americans and of all citizens. I'm honored to be with the men and women of the Urban League.
You'll hear from my opponent, Senator Obama, tomorrow, and if there's one thing he always delivers it's a great speech. But I hope you'll listen carefully, because his ideas are not always as impressive as his rhetoric. And this is especially true in the case of the Urban League's agenda of opportunity. Your Opportunity Compact speaks of the urgent need to reform our public schools, create jobs, and help small businesses grow. You understand that persistent problems of failing schools and economic stagnation cannot be solved with the same tired ideas and pandering to special interests that have failed us time and again. And you know how much the challenges have changed for those who champion the cause of equal opportunity in America.
Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? Equal employment opportunity is set firmly down in law. But with jobs becoming scarcer -- and more than 400,000 Americans t hrown out of work just this year -- that can amount to an equal share of diminished opportunity. For years, business ownership by African Americans has been growing rapidly. This is all to the good, but that hopeful trend is threatened in a struggling economy -- with the cost of energy, health care, and just about everything else rising sharply.
As in other challenges African Americans have overcome, these problems require clarity of purpose. They require the solidarity of groups like the Urban League. And, at times, they also require a willingness to break from conventional thinking.
Nowhere are the limitations of conventional thinking any more apparent than in education policy. After decades of hearing the same big promises from the public education establishment, and se eing the same poor results, it is surely time to shake off old ways and to demand new reforms. That isn't just my opinion; it is the conviction of parents in poor neighborhoods across this nation who want better lives for their children.
Just ask the families in New Orleans who will soon have the chance to remove their sons and daughters from failing schools, and enroll them instead in a school-choice scholarship program. That program in Louisiana was proposed by Democratic state legislators and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. Just three years after Katrina, they are bringing real hope to poor neighborhoods, and showing how much can be achieved when both parties work together for real reform. Or ask parents in the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. whether they want more choices in education. The District's Opportunity Scholarship program serves more than 1,900 boys and girls from families with an average income of 23,000 dollars a year. And more than 7,000 more families have applied for that program. What they all have in common is the desire to get their kids into a better school.
Democrats in Congress, including my opponent, oppose the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last month, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, "tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice." All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?
Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of "tired rhetoric" about education. We've heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We've heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools. Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public school fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity.
We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today because they don't have all the proper credits in educational "theory" or "methodology." All they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough.
If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform. I will target funding to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class, or who participate in an alternative teacher recruitment program such as Teach for America, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, and the New Teacher Project.
We will pay bonuses to teachers who take on the challenge of working in our most troubled schools -- because we need their fine minds and good hearts to help turn those schools around. We will award bonuses as well to our highest-achieving teachers. And no longer will we measure teacher achievement by conformity to process. We will measure it by the success of their students.
Moreover, the funds for these bonuses will not be controlled by faraway officials -- in Washington, in a state capital, or even in a district office. Under my reforms, we will put the money and the responsibilities where they belong -- in the office of the school principal. One reason charter schools are so successful, and so sought after by parents, is that principals have spending discretion. And I intend to give that same discretion to public school principals. No longer will money be spent on rigid and often meaningless formulas. Relying on the good judgment and first-hand knowledge of school principals, education money will be spent in service to public school students.
Under my reforms, parents will exercise freedom of choice in obtaining extra help for children who are falling behind. As it is, federal aid to parents for tutoring for their children has to go through another bureaucracy. They can't purchase the tutoring directly, without dealing with the same education establishment that failed their children in the first place. These needless restrictions will be removed. If a student needs extra help, parents will be able to sign them up to get it, with direct public support.
Some of these reforms, and others, are contained in a Statement of Principles drafted by a group dedicated to finally changing the status quo in our education system. The Education Equality Project has brought together leaders from all across the political spectrum, including school Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Chancellor Klein is a strong supporter of charter schools, because he understands that fundamental reform is needed. As he puts it, "in large urban areas the culture of public education is broken. If you don't fix this culture, then you are not going to be able to make the kind of changes that are needed." Among others who share this conviction are Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, Chancellor Michelle Rhee of Washington, and Harold Ford, Junior. You know that a reform movement is truly bipartisan when J.C. Watts and Al Sharpton are both members. And today I am proud to add my name as well to the list of those who support the aims and principles of the Education Equality Project.
But one name is still missing, Senator Obama's. My opponent talks a great deal about hope and change, and education is as good a test as any of his seriousness. The Education Equality Project is a practical plan for delivering change and restoring hope for children and parents who need a lot of both. And if Senator Obama continues to defer to the teachers unions, instead of committing to real reform, then he should start looking for new slogans.
Over the years, the Urban League has brought enormous good into the life of our country -- by broadening the reach of economic opportunity. There was a time when economists took little if any notice at all of the poverty of black communities. Even in times of general economic growth, many lived in a per petual recession, and the jobs available didn't promise much upward mobility. Our country still has a lot of progress to make on this score. But with 1.2 million businesses today owned and operated by African Americans, more and more are no longer just spectators on the prosperity of our country. They are stakeholders. As much as anyone else, they count on their government to help create the conditions of economic growth -- and, as president, I intend to do just that.
Senator Obama and I have fundamental differences on economic policy, and many of them concern tax rates. He supports proposals to raise top marginal rates paid by small business and families, to raise tax rates on those with taxable incomes of more than 32,000 dollars, raise capital gains taxes, raise taxes on dividends, raise payroll taxes and raise estate taxes. That's a whole lot of raising, and for million s of families, individuals, and small businesses it will mean a lot less money to spend, save and invest as they see fit.
For my part, I believe that in a troubled economy, when folks are struggling to afford the necessities of life, higher taxes are the last thing we need. The economy isn't hurting because workers and businesses are under-taxed. Raising taxes eliminates jobs, hurts small businesses, and delays economic recovery.
Under my plan, we will preserve the current low rates as they are, so businesses large and small can hire more people. We will double the personal exemption from $3,500 to $7,000 for every dependent, in every family in America. We will offer every individual and family a large tax credit to buy their health care, so employers can spend more on wages, and wo rkers don't lose their coverage when they change jobs. We will lower the business tax rate, so American companies open new plants and create more jobs in this country.
There are honest differences as well about the growth of government. But surely we can find common ground in the principle that government cannot go on forever spending recklessly and incurring debt. Government has grown by 60 percent in the last eight years, because the Congress and this administration have failed to meet their responsibilities. And next year, total federal expenditures are predicted to reach over three trillion dollars. That is an awful lot for us to be spending when this nation is already more than nine trillion dollars in debt or more than thirty thousand dollars in debt for every citizen. That's a debt our government plans to leave for your children and mine to bear. And that is a failure n ot only of financial foresight, but of moral obligation.
There will come a day when the road reaches a dead-end. And it won't be today's politicians who suffer the consequences. It will be American workers and their children who are left with worthless promises and trillion-dollar debts. We cannot let that happen. As President, I'll work with every member of Congress -- Republican, Democrat, and Independent -- who shares my commitment to reforming government and controlling spending. I'll order a top-to-bottom review of every federal program, department, and agency. We're going to demand accountability. We're going to make sure failed programs are not rewarded ... and that discretionary spending is going where it belongs -- to essential priorities like job training, the security of our citizens, and the care of our veterans.
To get our economy running at full strength again, we need to stay focused on creating jobs for our people, and protecting paychecks from the rising costs of food, gasoline, and most everything else. Above all, we need to get a handle on the cost of oil and gasoline, and to regain energy independence for America.
All across our country, people are hurting. Small farmers, truckers, and taxi drivers are unable to cover their costs. Small business owners are struggling to meet their payrolls. The cost of living is rising, and the value of paychecks is falling. Yet even now, with the price of gasoline still around four dollars per gallon, the Congress has done exactly nothing.
Most Americans understand that producing more of something will lower its price. And if I am elected president, this nation will move quickly to increase our own energy production. Last month, the President finally lifted the executive ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, and called on Congress to lift its ban as well. Lifting that ban could seriously lower the price of oil -- and Congress should get it done immediately. We need to drill more, drill now, and pay less at the pump.
Under my energy plan, the Lexington Project, we will also make use of America's vast coal reserves. As president, I will commit this nation to a concerted effort to make clean coal a reality and create jobs in hard-pressed regions. And America will pursue the goal of building 45 nuclear power plants before 2030, which will generate not only much-needed electricity but some 700,000 jobs as well. We will also accelerate the development of wind and solar power and other renewable technologies, and we will help automakers design and sell cars that don't depend on gasoline. Production of hybrid, flex-fuel, and electric cars will bring America closer to energy independence. And it will bring jobs to auto plants, parts manufacturers, and the communities that support them.
Regaining control over the cost and supply of energy in America will not be easy, and it will not happen quickly. But no challenge to our economy is more urgent. And you have my pledge that if I am president, we're going to get it done.
Our country is passing through a very tough time. But Americans have been through worse, and beaten longer odds. The men and women of the Urban League know more than most about facing long odds, and overcoming adversity. For 98 years, this organization has been at the center of the great and honorable cause of equal opportunity for every American. I'm here today as an admirer and a fellow American, an association that means more to me than any other. I am a candidate for president who seeks your vote and hopes to earn it. But whether or not I win your support, I need your goodwill and counsel. And should I succeed, I'll need it all the more. I have always believed in this country, in a good America, a great America. But I have always known we can build a better America, where no place or person is left without hope or opportunity by the sins of injustice or indifference. It would be among the great privileges of my life to work with you in that cause. Thank you all very much.
Speaking at Holocaust Memorial and Museum Yad Vashem, Obama declares that the Holocaust was won because people rose up and spoke with one voice. Somehow, the 14 million allied military who lost their lives were forgotten. To my mind, this is an absolute outrage that, as of yet, is getting absolutely no play in the media.
Obama: WWII won by speaking out as one voice.
Obama Admits He'd Rather See Failure In Iraq Than Say He Was Wrong On The Surge
Today, Obama Said That Even Knowing What He Knows Now, He Would Not Have Supported The Surge:
Obama Told ABC's Terry Moran That, Despite The Progress That Has Occurred In Iraq, He Would Not Have Supported The Surge. Moran: "'[T]he surge of U.S. troops, combined with ordinary Iraqis' rejection of both al Qaeda and Shiite extremists have transformed the country. Attacks are down more than 80% nationwide. U.S. combat casualties have plummeted, five this month so far, compared with 78 last July, and Baghdad has a pulse again.' If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you -- would you support the surge?" Obama: "No, because -- keep in mind that -" Moran: "You wouldn't?" Obama: "Well, no, keep -- these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult . Hindsight is 20/20. I think what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate, because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with." Moran: "And so, when pressed, Barack Obama says he still would have opposed the surge." (ABC's "World News," 7/21/08)
When The Surge Was Announced, Obama Said It Would Not Work And Would Potentially Increase Sectarian Violence In Iraq:
In January 2007, Obama Said He Did Not Know Of Any Middle East Expert Or Military Officer That Believed That The Surge Would "Make A Substantial Difference On The Situation On The Ground." Obama: "We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality -- we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 1/14/07)
Obama: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse." (MSNBC's "Response To The President's Speech On Iraq," 1/10/07)
After The Surge Was In Effect, Obama Said It Had Potentially Worsened The Situation In Iraq:
In July 2007, Obama Said The Surge Had Not Worked In Iraq. Obama: "Well, actually, I think there was a very serious debate, and it's based on some fundamental differences. I think reasonable people can differ on this issue because there are no good options in Iraq. We should not have gone. At this point we have bad options and worse options. But we are facing a choice. My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now." (NBC's "The Today Show," 7/18/07)
In November 2007, Obama Said The Surge Has Not Worked, And Had Potentially Worsened The Situation In Iraq. Obama: "Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a search and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 11/11/07)
A Year After The Surge Was Announced, Obama Admitted That It Had Improved Security And Claimed That He Always Said It Would Do So: In January 2008, Obama Claimed That He Always Said That Increasing The Number Of Troops In Iraq Would Improve Security. Obama: "Now, I had no doubt, and I said at the time when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence." (Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Manchester, NH, 1/5/08)
In February 2008, Obama Said That It Was "Indisputable" That Violence Had Been Reduced In Iraq." CNN's Campbell Brown: "Senator Obama, in the same vein, you were also opposed to the surge from the beginning. Were you wrong?" Obama: "Well, I think it is indisputable that we've seen violence reduced in Iraq. And that's a credit to our brave men and women in uniform." (Sen. Barack Obama, CNN/ Univision Democrat Presidential Debate, Austin, TX, 2/21/08)
Despite Admitting That The Surge Had Reduced Violence, Obama Said That "We Don't Need More Spin About How The Surge Is Succeeding":
In May 2008, Obama Said "We Don't Need More Spin About How The Surge Is Succeeding." Obama: "We don't need more spin about how the surge is succeeding in doing what it was supposed to do which is to get the Iraqi's to stand up and take responsibility for their own future, so we can start sending our troops home." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At A Town Hall, Rapid City, SD, 5/31/08)
Obama Recently Admitted That The Surge Has Improved The Situation In Iraq:
In July 2008, Obama Said He Was "Pleased To See The Reductions In Violence That Have Occurred" In Iraq. Obama: "Now, that does not detract from the extraordinary work our troops have done. They have performed brilliantly throughout the process. And obviously, I am very pleased to see the reductions in violence that have occurred over the last several months. There's no doubt that because of their heroism and their outstanding work, we had the opportunity to salvage the situation in Iraq." (Sen. Barack Obama, Interview With Military Times, 7/2/08)
A Product Of The RNC Research Department
From the Baltimore Sun, we have a story about companies vying to get oil from a small section of the Florida panhandle where OCS drilling is currently allowed. Four companies have snatched up leases, but the difficulties are great. According to Stuart Strive, an executive with one of the companies, "Three-dimensional mapping of the ocean floor, which must happen before any drilling, could take up to two years...If a promising site is found, engineers must drill up to three miles below the ocean surface to extract the oil or natural gas. And it will take years before the company begins producing anything at the site - and there is no guarantee of success. A company can have as much as $4 billion invested and a wait of up to five years before seeing any return on the investment."
That's a lot of time and money for companies to invest, but with oil prices high, they are especially willing to go for it now, even if it takes up to five years to get the oil to market and see any cash spilling forth from those platforms (notice how the oil executive is under the false impression that it only takes up to 5 years and not the 7 to 12 you keep hearing from liberal oil opponents).
And from the Wall Street Journal, we have the story of McMoRan Exploration Co, which is returning to a long abandoned area which Exxon abandoned in 2006 after drilling to 30,000 feet without hitting pay dirt. It's a reach, but people are beginning to look even in the unlikeliest of places--given that the likely places are off limits.
If only Bush and these oil companies would get off their hindquarters and do some work we could be out of this mess that the Democrats and the environmental lobbyists have nothing to do with.
Now we really have a cause to get behind. It's called Operation Go Green! In case you missed it, the Green Party nominated two asylum escapees, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, to run for President and Vice President in 2008. They hope to be on 40 state ballots plus D.C.
If you know anything about these women, you know what kind of opportunity is presented here. As Obama moves to the center, more and more crazy people, the Democrats' biggest "special" interest group, will begin looking for alternatives. If these two can get the 5% of the popular vote they are looking for, which is possible, then we can expect to see the Green Party as a fixture of American politics for years to come, tossing wrench after wrench into the Democrats' machine.
First we had Hillary announcing that hard working white Americans weren't going to vote for Barack. Then it was Barack Obama, himself, reminding everyone in a speech how scary he was--then adding that he was black. Ralph Nader followed, attempting to guard America's black consumers by questioning Obama's blackness. Now we have The New Yorker, my favorite liberal rag, putting Obama in Islamic clothes and Michelle Obama in radical military gear. (see here)
Of course, The New Yorker claims it is all a satirical representation of what Republicans are thinking. Imagine that. Republicans have still not brought up the race issue--except for one amateur Obama smear site that I know of--but The New Yorker knows what we're doing even when we aren't doing it. We are, after all, a bunch of racists by their definition.
It is unremarkable that the closed-minded left would carry on this way without any exterior evidence to back their thinking. After all, they like to fight the same battles for decades, trapping their constituencies in a sort of retro-victimization long after the rest of the world has moved on. That's how they maintain their voting blocks.
What is remarkable is that more people don't catch on to the nonsense. The African-American community needs to realize that the Democrats have nothing left to offer them but perpetual victim-hood.
I don't expect the black community to snap out of it this election. The opportunity to elect an African-American is understandably a draw that is nearly impossible for the average voter to overcome. But while you are voting Democrat this election, keep a critical eye on them and the Republicans. You may notice some things, that the only ones making race an issue are the so-called enlightened ones.
For the purpose of this piece we are going to use the plans put forth by the presidential candidates, Barack Obama (Democrat) and John McCain (Republican), as these are the presumptive de facto leaders of their parties.
Sources: http://www.barackobama.com/ , http://www.johnmccain.com/
Both plans have as their eventual goal American energy independence and a move to clean energy, and both plans begin by addressing the current energy crisis.
Current Energy Crisis
The Republican plan for addressing the immediate crisis places emphasis on allowing new oil and gas exploration, reducing or eliminating tariffs and subsidies for alcohol-based fuel, and reforming the laws and regulations governing the oil futures market
Allowing new oil and gas exploration: This is almost certainly the most effective, short-term solution to driving the oil markets down. America has somewhere between 60 and 200 years worth of untapped oil depending upon the estimate you use (it probably lies somewhere in the middle). While it is true that it would be from 2 to 7 years before a lot of this oil could start hitting the market, the mere intention to drill would decimate the oil futures and bring prices down significantly.
Reducing or eliminating tariffs and subsidies for alcohol-based fuel: Some of the problems we have in the food and ethanol market right now are that we are protecting our corn farmers via subsidies. While this seems like a noble idea, it is causing vast amounts of corn to be grown and sold at inflated rates. Countries like Brazil have the capacity to provide significant amounts of ethanol at cheap prices and create true market-based competition in the ethanol market. Today there are already many flexible fuel vehicles on the roads in the U.S.
Regulations governing the oil futures market: For Republicans, this means that they want to reform the laws and regulations governing the oil futures market, so that they are just as clear and effective as the rules applied to stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. There are serious questions as to whether this would actually make any significant change. Most trading will still take place and as long as there are fears of a supply and demand problem the oil futures are going to rise.
Gas tax holiday: This plan would most likely reduce the price of gasoline briefly; however, critics think it would likely cause more consumption without creating greater supply, thus causing prices to go even higher in the long run.
Though there are no plans on Barack Obama's official site to address immediate energy concerns, there have been talks for a windfall profits tax of the oil companies and looking at the regulations governing the oil futures market.
Windfall profits tax: This is only getting minor support from some quarters as it is generally recognized that punishing the oil companies will diminish their ability to improve infrastructure and increase production. The companion idea is that you could use the "extra" tax income to aid the consumer. One problem with this would be that due to deficit spending, the "extra" money would be imaginary.
Regulations governing the oil futures market: (see above)
Intermediate and Long-Term Plans
The intermediate and long-term plans laid out by Barack Obama have a primary emphasis on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and addressing global warming. The plans are copious and varied. The principle goal being to address global warming, most of the proposals are a sort of "tough love" program designed to move us away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible with a target of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050. It is difficult to determine at what point we might reach a threshold and expect to see a positive impact on energy prices because the worldwide demand for energy is expected to rise exponentially through the intervening years, playing as a sort of counterbalance to our initial efforts to conserve.
Cap and Trade: This is being proposed by both presidential candidates. There are a variety of problems with Cap and Trade. One is that it is essentially a business tax and therefore not conducive to companies making efforts to convert to green energy. In Europe, where cap and trade programs have been under way for years, there have been zero reductions in carbon emissions. People who are trying to redesign the program are looking at making energy costs much more prohibitive, thereby creating a greater incentive for going green. Critics argue that this new reformulation will cause an economic drain and inflation. Additionally, quickly developing countries with enormous populations, such as China and India, are putting out much more CO2 every year. All in all, this is widely viewed as a failed program.
Invest $150 Billion over 10 Years in Clean Energy: Rather expensive, yet somewhat effective--this plan has a variety of components that would encourage research, the development of greater biofuel infrastructure, and the advancement of such technology as plug-in hybrids. If affordable within the constraints of the budget, this is likely a plan that will work in the long term. Critics, however, say that the private sector is already moving in this direction and these types of financial incentives are unnecessary and tend to limit the private sector's creative ability to problem solve. Also, you will have critics of how the money is spent and who gets it.
Double Energy Research and Development Funding: This is primarily for biomass, wind and solar. Most feel that these technologies need increased governmental support to realize their potential. Others believe in letting the market take care of it naturally.
Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders: This proposal is somewhat vague, yet appears to be a sort of tax credit for adopting green practices. This would be almost a necessity if great changes are to be expected from America's businesses without putting them at a trade disadvantage.
Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund: A $50 billion venture capital fund for developing green technology companies. Again, this depends upon whether you have the $50 billion and your view on governmental involvement in developing private sector companies. I can imagine that critics will question who gets the money and why. For instance, will it always go to the most promising young tech companies or will it sometimes go to companies because they are minority owned? This is a massive distribution of money that could, like the $150 billion above, lead to serious ethical questions.
Require 25 Percent of Renewable Electricity by 2025: With our current levels hovering in the low single digits and electricity demand rising, this will take some work but is doable. Perhaps with all the investment money in the programs above some new technology will lead the way to make it easier.
Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology: It includes provisions for halting production on new "non-clean" coal facilities to encourage bringing the clean facilities online. The difficulty is that it is anticipated that clean coal technology will take 15 years to come online. If building traditional plants is halted, it could create a serious electricity crisis if not replaced in some way.
Deploy Cellulosic Ethanol: Cellulosic ethanol is generally seen as more efficient and less costly to food production since it is produced from non-edibles. The plan is to get a small amount online by 2013 and continue to grow the resource from there. This seems to be moving in a good direction to solve some of the current problems with ethanol. Critics may wonder what the purpose is as the car makers are turning to electric and hydrogen.
Expand Locally-Owned Biofuel Refineries: This would be the old type of ethanol, not the cellulosic mentioned above. Again, critics will complain of a scattershot method. This would be, as the entire ethanol movement has been so far, very good for farmers.
Confront Deforestation and Promote Carbon Sequestration: According to the Obama website, "Obama will develop domestic incentives that reward forest owners, farmers, and ranchers when they plant trees, restore grasslands, or undertake farming practices that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere." That is as specific as the plan gets right now. There are too many questions to really comment on it at this time.
Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Sets a goal of reducing fuel carbon emits by 10% by 2020. If this doesn't include biofuel additives, it will require special blends that will further assist reducing emissions by driving up gasoline prices.
Increase Renewable Fuel Standard: Requiring 36 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022. By current fuel usage, that would amount to about 20% of all gas used. One would assume that in combination with other programs designed to improve mileage this could potentially represent an even greater percentage in 2022.
Increase Fuel Economy Standards: Doubling fuel economy in 18 years with an emphasis on helping American car companies meet these goals. I'm not certain what the conditions of this will be, whether it be by fleet or by class. It does seem feasible as an average with many companies planning on bringing all-electric vehicles online soon.
Set National Building Efficiency Goals: Making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030. Democrats will also establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50 percent and existing building efficiency by 25 percent over the next decade to help meet the 2030 goal. Critics will argue that building costs will soar, but this could be a key component to aiding the requirement, "Require 25 Percent of Renewable Electricity by 2025", above (or surpassing the requirement). Additionally, the construction business has always adapted to new building standards before, such as earthquake and hurricane codes.
Establish a Grant Program for Early Adopters: This is for states and localities that adopt the above building codes early. This will help to keep early adopters competitive with late adopters as far as economic recruitment, etc. Likely this is necessary to get any significant early action on the above proposal.
Invest in a Digital Smart Grid: Will pursue a major investment in the utility grid to enable a tremendous increase in renewable generation and accommodate modern energy requirements, such as reliability, smart metering, and distributed storage. I think nearly everyone would agree that this is far overdo, though some might claim the benefits don't justify the cost.
Create New Forum of Largest Greenhouse Gas Emitters: By wanting to include China and India, Democrats have the right idea. Unfortunately, neither China nor India have shown an interest in doing a lot in this regard.
Re-Engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change: Though worded vaguely, I assume this means accepting more U.N. environmental plans than we have in the past. Positives and negatives would depend upon which plans we agreed to.
Called the Lexington Project, the Republican plan does not have nearly as many components as the Democrat plan, though it does include plans to quickly drop energy prices (above) and has similar overall goals to the Democrat plan and some of the same features.
Cap and Trade: (see under Democrat Plan above)
Clean Car Challenge: "will commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys a zero carbon emission t car, encouraging automakers to be first on the market with these cars in order to capitalize on the consumer incentives. For other vehicles, a graduated tax credit will apply so that the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit." As a tax credit instead of spending, this might win over some conservatives. Critics might say that it will encourage businesses to price gouge, though such a coordinated effort would be unlikely.
$300 Million Prize To Improve Battery Technology: This is like the space related X-Prize on steroids. That kind of money would almost certainly draw interest and have an impact. Critics have already said that the money could go to advanced technologies just now coming onto the market; however, these technologies would fall under the "current technologies" heading and thus be the score that must be beaten.
Flex-Fuel Vehicles Should Play A Greater Role In Our Transportation Sector: This would be biofuel vehicles like ethanol and biodeisel. Unfortunately, if there is a plan here, it isn't listed. This is more a statement of belief.
Alcohol-Based Fuels Hold Great Promise As Both An Alternative To Gasoline And As A Means of Expanding Consumers' Choices: See above on the 'no plan listed'. However, it should be pointed out that Republicans are in favor of aiding alcohol based fuels by removing restrictions, tariffs and subsidies which may make the ethanol business more competitive.
Effectively Enforce Existing CAFE Standards: Believes in substantially increasing the penalty to car manufacturers who fail to meet the standard. Today companies pay a nominal fee. It is difficult to argue against this. If you are going to have CAFE standards, they need to be enforced. As it is now, the program is more a source of revenue (taxes).
Become A Leader In A New International Green Economy: No plan for this is given.
$2 Billion Annually To Advancing Clean Coal Technologies: This plans to help bring the technology online sooner than the 15 years analysts say. Critics may claim this is an insufficient investment and does nothing to curb the continued build-out of traditional coal plants.
Construct 45 New Nuclear Power Plants By 2030 With The Ultimate Goal Of Eventually Constructing 100 New Plants: This is the biggie besides drilling for new oil. Nuclear energy is the obvious answer to CO2 emission problems from power plants. Critics will say that it is dangerous and that the waste is difficult to store; however, America is about the only developed country that still clings to these nuclear energy wives' tales. We are way behind the rest of the industrialized world.
Establish A Permanent Tax Credit Equal To 10 Percent Of Wages Spent On R&D: This does not appear to be related only to energy/clean energy fields. Critics might say it isn't directed enough, yet it does eliminate the problem of who gets the windfall. Everyone with R&D will get it.
Encourage The Market For Alternative, Low Carbon Fuels Such As Wind, Hydro And Solar Power: Again, instead of money going in, Republicans want to keep the money from going out in the first place, suggesting modest tax incentives to companies in these industries. And, again, critics will likely argue that it won't be enough.
Despite being extremely partisan, myself, I have tried very hard to present an honest and unbiased review, above, of the two plans. Hopefully you can mull it over and make your own conclusions.
For me, the Democrat plan is scattershot and wild with its money, throwing many hundreds of billions of dollars in all different directions, seeming even to have redundancy built in. For instance, requiring 25% renewables for electricity and new building codes that will make buildings zero emission. A great difficulty, however, with the Democrat plan is that it has no solutions to the current crisis and ignores obvious and currently available solutions like drilling for oil and building nuclear power plants. An even greater difficulty, however, is that the plan is likely to increase the current crisis by making the use of oil and electricity more difficult and expensive.
Republicans, on the other hand, favor easing into the renewable/green era by creating a greater supply of energy now while encouraging development of new businesses and technology through tax incentives and structured goals. Meanwhile, by embracing nuclear power, they hope to drastically reduce the amount of renewables needed and create a cheap and clean energy source.
Both plans get us where we want, or need, to be, but the Democrat plan does it with only the environment in mind, heedless of the economic and social destruction the plan would leave in its wake. Even the vast amounts of deficit spending proposed will cause energy prices to go up as the falling dollar continues to buy less and less of the foreign oil they will force America to continue to rely upon.
My grades: Republican = B+. They have most of the bases covered but should be pushing harder for the opening of the oil shale fields or ANWR. The plan will greatly benefit the struggling economy and cause an immediate and drastic reduction in the cost of gasoline while still leading us to clean, renewable energy. It should be pointed out, however, that a windfall of new oil should not be allowed to stop the progress currently being made toward renewable/green energy. Whatever your views of global warming, this is the direction of the world economy and America cannot afford to stay put with old technology.
Democrat = D. They leave the economy to potentially collapse under the burden of ever increasing energy costs and environmental demands. As for the long term, they have covered too many bases, taking an almost hysterical approach that includes redundant plans and vast amounts of give-aways that are likely to become more political than practical. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that a significant shift to renewable/green energy would occur.
Cross Posted to American Sentinel
In Britain, the National Children's Bureau has issued a set of guidelines to
nursery teachers to be alert for racism by children as young as three, according
to the Brussells Journal.
While some communities fight over a climate change levy tax and others plan about which towns to save and which to let drown, news reports of potential solutions--like floating cities to house "climate change refugees" and new forms of plant energy that could save the world--are making the headlines.
(as an aside, here's a quote about the new plant
energy "NASA has estimated that halophytes planted over an area the size of the
Sahara Desert could supply more than 90% of the world's energy needs."
Gee-only the entire northern continent of Africa will be
Clearly we all need to be involved in finding solutions to this dastardly problem; otherwise, freaking lunatics are going to end up screwing up the world by planting halophytes all over it, or screwing up the view from my favorite beach house by building enormous contingency cities. Never mind the protesters out marching against nuclear power, there are other things we can do besides stopping that menace, and I'm here to propose a series of them.
Should you vote Democrat? Many people shouldn't even consider it, but if you are a member of one of these groups, voting straight along the Democratic Party line might be in order.
1) You don't own a car and don't intend to own a car. This might be someone in a large metropolitan area with a fantastic public transportation system. In this case you may not care that the Democrat solution to high gas prices should take effect in about 30 years.
2) You're fat and just can't seem to get the weight off. As Obama says, you can't keep eating as much as you want or France might get mad. Having a bunch of wine-swilling Frenchmen coming after you (miming your imminent demise) will surely have you on the road to health.
3) You want to learn Spanish. Barack Obama is embarrassed by Americans and their lack of bilingualism. He thinks we need to learn Spanish and he's going to help.
4) You are dead. No one encourages the dead to get their voices heard like the Democrats, particularly those from Illinois.
5) You are, or were, incarcerated. (See number 4)
6) You have too much time on your hands and need to be given jobs to do. Pharaobama has an enormous, and sometimes required, public works program. Get ready to build monuments! ...or something.
7) Someone else is keeping you from succeeding. You know who you are and what they are up to. Democrats will be sure to put an end to it.
8) You have nightmares about livestock flatulence. And not the normal kind we all have--the really scary kind that involves climate disaster.
9) You were born in a terrorist supporting nation, have a history of questionable behavior, are building bombs in your basement and like talking on the phone about it. Where the hell are your civil rights? Why should these people be allowed to tap your phone without just cause?
10) Because, dammit, you believe. You aren't sure what, but you know it makes you well up with tears. When you hear all these vague plans about change, you don't ask how or what's the cost. You are too dizzy with love to think about it. Liberalism is the opiate of the masses, and you can never get enough opiates.
It is quite the confusing religious world that we live in these days. Christianity seems to be changing by the minute, and the factions that line up against each other are stranger and stranger. I'm not going to get into a full theological discussion at this point, but what is the benefit to liberal Christianity? A Christianity that denies that Christ is the way to God is not even a religion any more.
It has been argued for some time that everyone is responsible for their faith to the level that they have had the Gospel revealed to them. This is a part of Revelation and many use it to neatly dance around the problem of having people in China who have never heard of Christ going to Hell. That doesn't quite seem fair, after all. Being a staple passage in the Bible, this doesn't really qualify as a wholly liberal theology. I've heard many conservative apologists (the ones who think the world is 6000 years old) use it as proof of God's love and mercy. Fine, I'm untrained in theology, so I'm not going to argue with them.
Yet it is another thing altogether to claim that people who specifically reject Christ are rewarded with eternal life, as Barack Obama recently suggested. It seems to me that this leaves Christianity with nothing at all.
And this is only one of the strange stories with liberal interpretations of the Bible that I've read lately. Yesterday, for example, I read an op-ed on Real Clear Politics that began with these lines:
In her 2001 memoir of seminary life, Episcopal priest Chloe Breyer expressed befuddlement that the Rikers Island inmates to whom she was ministering mocked her liberal approach to religion.
"They want answers, not questions," Ms. Breyer wrote in frustration. "The more contradictions I point out in the Bible, the more the inmates decide there is no point in wasting their time with a religion that lacks answers."
Pardon me, but what the hell? Who decided the proper way to minister to people, much less convicts at Rikers Island, was to point out contradictions in the Bible? After Pentecost when the Apostles and disciples of Jesus went out into the world to spread the Gospel, they anticipated that people would need proof in order to convert--thus the need for "witnesses", people who had seen the risen Christ. The last thing these men would have done was to spend a great deal of time casting doubt upon their own story.
A liberal approach to religion renders the religion impotent and meaningless, much as a liberal approach to the constitution renders law impotent and meaningless. Either it is or it is not. For Obama and those on the left wing of Christianity, it is not, and neither is our constitution and neither is our liberty. The principle difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals bring chaos while conservatives bring order. Think that is going too far? Ask Christ who has been thrown out of his own religion.
These days getting lectured by a talking head about taking mass transit is nearly a constant punishment. With implied finger wagging, we are told that our refusal to hop on the train or bus is adding to anthropogenic global warming and leading to our eventual destruction. Of course, these television versions of the village idiot always have New York, Chicago or some other major city in the background. It matters little to them where the viewers live. We are supposed to find a train or a bus somewhere and hop on. So let me give them a little lesson in midsized town mass stupidity transit.
I live in Knoxville, TN. The county has a bit more than 400,000 people and the CSA has a bit over 1 million. We are often held up as an example of an area that desperately needs public transportation. Our residential and business districts are spread out in a sort of hyperbolic demonstration of the principles of urban sprawl, and we consistently show up in lists of the Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in America. This has more to do with geography than anything, as we border the Smoky Mountains–and not on the lee side. In any event, air quality is an issue here, so our good ole boy network of politicians has seen fit to take a series of steps to address it.
First we have our “Bike to Work” week, which usually takes place in the middle of May. By then, our temperatures are usually in the 80’s and that 40 minute commute in the car (see urban sprawl above) turns into a 4 hour ride/walk/push (see mountains above) that no one with any sense is willing to undertake. Much better is the “Park and Ride” lots where you can leave your car behind and either commute with your buddies or catch a bus. But as far as good ideas go, that’s as good as our mass stupidity transit gets.
A few years ago we started getting daily air quality alerts. If the day was going to be particularly bad for your health, it was announced publicly. The response of our mass transit folks was to offer incentives based on this. If it was a dangerous air day, you got to ride the bus for free (or at a deep discount–I honestly can’t remember). Think about it for a moment. The air is so foul that people are going to emergency rooms with respiratory problems and KAT (Knoxville Area Transit) is encouraging you to stand around outside at a bus stop for 20 minutes.
But that was only stupid. It turns out that there is mass insanity behind the scenes that usually doesn’t see the light of day.
With ridership up this year by over 10% due to rising gas prices, KAT is preparing to sharply reduce the number of routes it serves. Why? Of course it’s the rising cost of diesel and the resulting financial crisis. I wondered, can’t we just pass this rising cost of fuel to the rider like every other business does these days? Like many others, I was baffled. Unlike most, I decided to look into it.
According to a report by NBC affiliate WBIR, “The city pays about half of KAT’s $16,000,000 annual operating budget. State and federal grants cover a quarter. The rest comes from revenue partners like the University of Tennessee and fares from riders.”
Stop and read that sentence again. Less than 25% of the costs to run the program comes from fares. Naturally, this got me to thinking, what are the fares (no, I’ve never ridden the bus)? From another story on WBIR, I discover that the Farragut to Knoxville Express, which is one route under discussion to be cut, costs $1.25. The average distance from Farragut to Knoxville is, according to Mapquest, 15.68 miles. So let’s do some math.
Getting an idea of the mpg that the average KAT bus gets is a rather tricky undertaking and likely for good reasons. The only study I found on the subject showed that a few hybrid electric buses KAT uses get 3.22 mpg. Most of the fleet, however, is just plain diesel. From various sites I read that the average American car gets about 20 mpg. So let’s say I hop in my average car and drive from my home in Farragut to my job in downtown Knoxville. With $4 per gallon gas, it’s going to cost me $6.27 for the day to get to work and back.
According to readily available figures 17,500 people ride the Farragut express every year and there are approximately 2200 trips. This averages out to 7.95, or 8, passengers per bus trip. That means that if you say the average automobile is carrying 1.5 passengers (another readily available figure) then you will end up with these figures:
The car carrying 1.5 passengers is getting essentially an adjusted 30 mpg because of the added half passenger. The bus carrying 8 passengers (the driver doesn’t count because he wouldn’t necessarily be taking the trip if he weren’t employed to do so) at 3.22 mpg is getting essentially 25.76 mpg. Even counting a full extra rider for this year’s ten percent increase (My figures were based on last year), the addition only gets you to 28.98 mpg. And this is assuming that the Farragut line is using one of the hybrid electric buses, which is not at all likely given that most of the buses are not hybrid electric. If the Farragut Express bus is getting, for instance, only 2.5 mpg, then the numbers get ridiculous, with the bus wasting 7.5 mpg over automobile transportation.
Let’s not even get into the fact that the 8 passengers are paying $11.20 for the $19.48 worth of gas (on the hybrid model) it takes to get them downtown. Then you have the driver’s salary. The mechanics. The managers. The marketing department. The accountants. No wonder citizens are up in arms over the idea of ending the route. It’s the best darn deal in town.
Built up into an irrational, global warming frenzy, we in Knoxville are practically ready to take to the streets in order to save the Farragut Express. The reality is something different entirely. KAT is so subsidized that it is virtually an entitlement program, and the CO2 savings are imaginary.
Though I didn’t do the math behind the other proposed route cuts, I’m betting it would come out much the same or worse. And given where KAT’s money comes from, one has to wonder whether some marginal savings in CO2 emissions (given that most buses are not hybrids, I seriously doubt there are any CO2 savings at all) is worth $12 million in federal and state money–and the University of Tennessee, which provides a portion of the funds not counted in the $12 million is also partly funded by state and federal money.
What I thought was going to be an article pointing out the stupidity of cutting bus routes as gas prices go up, became an article questioning whether we needed most bus services at all. These hulking road dinosaurs are a useless money drain. And while I don’t buy into the nonsense surrounding anthropogenic global warming, if I did it would be an even greater reason to question the service. I’m not completely against the idea of public transportation, but I’m definitely of the mind that it needs to be reexamined and retooled or just trashed altogether in mid-sized towns–at least in this one.
Meanwhile, if you are really wanting to save the planet, Superman, consider carpooling. Janet in her 10 mpg Hummer with 6 passengers is blowing that KAT bus away.