Tuesday, January 02, 2007
That's the only possible explanation for him believing that his new scheme to reward coal-to-liquid fuel operators with riches (possibly fabulous riches) isn't going to cost somebody something.
Boucher directing efforts to national energy policyIt would cost the government nothing. That's sweet. Of course, nothing costs the government, when you get down to it. Expenditures are either foisted upon you the taxpayer or they go into the national debt, and it's left for your children and grandchildren to pay.
By Hank Hayes, Kingsport Times-News
Abingdon - With Democrats in control of the next Congress, U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher says "an agenda I have long supported can now move to the forefront" to benefit Southwest Virginia's Fightin' Ninth Congressional District - and maybe the rest of America as well.
"We have a 250-year reserve of coal, and coal is very important to the economy of this region. It can be converted into a liquid fuel with a technology that is well-known to power cars and trucks," Boucher said during an interview at his Abingdon district office.
Boucher said he'll introduce a bill providing a price guarantee to either a coal fuel operator or the government.
"The bill would provide that if the price of petroleum declines below $40 (per barrel), the government would make a payment to the liquid fuels operator," he explained. "If the price climbs above about $80, the operator would make a payment to the government, making the risk about equally balanced. ... We think this program would wind up costing the government nothing, but it would provide the financial certainty the market is looking for, for private investor dollars to flow into coal to fuels. ... If the oil price falls, new technology would essentially be stranded." (link)
Assuming the reporter didn't leave anything out, there's something mysteriously left out of Boucher's explanation. Who's paying the operators? Well, he says "the government." But you know better.
What he's not saying is this: He plans on confiscating "excess gross revenues" garnered by America's oil companies. That's where that $40 and $80 business comes in.
Well, who's going to make up for that which the oil companies are going to lavish on the coal-to-liquid fuel operators?
You are. The price of the gasoline you buy at the local station is going to be set artificially high to compensate.
This guy is dangerous.
Left essentially to their own devices, researchers are in the process of developing (with some government assistance) viable alternative fuels, including coal-to-liquid (a wonderful idea that will benefit Southwest Virginia immensely) and they've done quite well without Boucher's interference.
We don't need to be adding, with artificially high gas prices, to the burden already being shouldered by our citizens to make this happen.
From "Never Enough," Times-Dispatch, January 2, 2007
Governor Tim Kaine wants to spend hundreds of millions on universal preschool.
State Senator Walter Stosch and Delegate Vince Callahan have announced they want to spend tens of millions more on tuition vouchers for community-college graduates who go on to four-year institutions in Virginia.
Kaine, Stosch, State Senator John Chichester, and plenty of others want to raise taxes for road construction.
Evidently the last tax hike -- and the 19-percent spending increase over the previous budget -- were not nearly enough.
Then again: When you're spending other people's money, no tax ever is.
Nothing flawed in this argument, agreed?
Lethal injection is inhumaneI especially like the argument made by those "anti-death penalty activists" (not to be confused with the anti-death penalty editorialists) that the drugs used to mask the pain are inhumane because they "could mask excruciating pain," which is their intent.
If Virginia insists on continuing executions, it should find the least painful method possible.
Both Florida and California suspended executions recently because of concerns about the potential cruelty of lethal injection.
Virginia should do the same.
Anti-death penalty activists have been claiming that the serene face of lethal injection may be a lie. The three-drug cocktail administered to the condemned includes a paralyzing agent that could mask excruciating pain caused by the drug that kills.
There is no humane way for the state to kill a human being. No matter what horrid crime a person has been convicted of, any method of execution is, by its very nature, an inhumane act.
But if Virginia insists on such inhumanity, the state should find as painless a method as possible.
The current lethal injection method fails that minimum test -- and thus stains the humanity of all Virginians. (link)
In any case, I told myself, when I began reading this piece, that if the author is serious about his call for the state of Virginia to adopt a "more humane" way of executing criminals, he would suggest one. If he didn't, this editorial is just another transparent attempt at criticizing capital punishment. No such alternative was suggested.
NFL Star Is Blown Away
Slaying Followed Club Fight
By Cynthia R, Fagan, The New York Post
January 2, 2007 -- Denver Broncos football star Darrent Williams was shot to death yesterday as he sat with friends in his Hummer limo.
The New Year's day tragedy, which has shocked fans and the NFL, may have been sparked by an argument in a nightclub, according to police. (link)
How many NFL athletes have been shot, stabbed, beaten, or arrested this year? Dozens? How many multiple times?
The NFL is rapidly getting to the point of rivaling the Crips and the Bloods. They should skip the Super Bowl and go right to MTV.
100 Years Later, the Food Industry Is Still ‘The Jungle’Balderdash.
By Adam Cohen, The New York Times
Nothing in “The Jungle” sticks with the reader quite like what went into the sausages. There was the rotting ham that could no longer be sold as ham. There were the rat droppings, rat poison and whole poisoned rats. Most chilling, there were the unnamed things “in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.”
Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” as a labor exposé. He hoped that the book, which was billed as “the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of wage slavery,” would lead to improvements for the people to whom he dedicated it, “the workingmen of America.” But readers of “The Jungle” were less appalled by Sinclair’s accounts of horrific working conditions than by what they learned about their food. “I aimed at the public’s heart,” he famously declared, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
“The Jungle,” and the campaign that Sinclair waged after its publication, led directly to passage of a landmark federal food safety law, which took effect 100 years ago this week. Sinclair awakened a nation not just to the dangers in the food supply, but to the central role government has to play in keeping it safe. But as the poisonings of spinach eaters and Taco Bell customers recently made clear, the battle is far from over — and in recent years, we have been moving in the wrong direction. (link)
If anything, the Taco Bell incident only reinforced the notion that government is powerless to prevent food contamination (unlike, say, an army of lawyers who are going to sue the pants off of the company, bringing about the creation a host of new internal safeguards). Not only did the government's food inspection regimen fail to detect the "poison," a brigade of government scientists still haven't figured out where the food poisoning originated. First it was the spinach, then the lettuce. Now they don't know. We're to believe they could have prevented in routine inspection what they can't find after the fact even though they've mounted a massive effort?
The lesson learned here:
We could have enlisted the help of the entire United States government, armed with billions of tax dollars, and those taco eaters would still have been affected.
Or we could have abolished the entire FDA inspection program, saved billions, and the Taco Bell customers would have been poisoned.
Government imvolvement made no difference.
So many of the freshmen coming to Congress this month arrive with this notion that they are going to change the way things are done in Washington. Many of their teenage supporters in the blogging world, too, operate under this illusion that everything is going to change for the better.
As New Congress Nears, House Democrats Could Be Headed for Own Divide
By Carl Hulse, The New York Times
Washington, Jan. 1 — Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who with more than 50 years’ tenure is the senior member of the House, is not so sure about the idea of creating an independent group to enforce ethics rules.
But Gabrielle Giffords, a brand-new House Democrat from Arizona, considers it a no-brainer. Of the longstanding approach in which lawmakers are seated on the ethics committee to police their peers, Representative-elect Giffords said, “It is like having the fox guard the henhouse.”
Those divergent outlooks over how best to fulfill the Democratic promise to clean up the House are just one illustration of a friction that could develop in the new Congress as the party takes control after 12 years in exile. (link)
So it's the powerful John Dingell vs. Gabrielle ... who?