Horrid Local Commercials

Dope moves:

I’ve got a bad feeling about this:

Eagle man?!?

High quality video productions:

What kind of -Green- is Al Gore talking about?

I find the following article slightly concerning (I’ve trimmed some from this article for brevity so if you have the time, be sure to go here and read the full thing):

Gore Financially Invested in Climate Cause
By Fred Lucas
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
May 14, 2008

(CNSNews.com) - Weeks before announcing a $300-million, three-year advertising campaign to raise awareness about global warming, Al Gore was conducting a slide show for a group of investors in Monterey, Calif., touting companies such as Bloom Energy, Amryis , Mascoma and other firms that are not household names — yet.

These bio-fuel and green technology firms could be poised to take off, Gore told his audience.

“Here are just a few of the investments I personally think make sense,” he said during the March 1 presentation. “I have a stake in these so I’ll have a disclaimer there.” (See Video)

Gore’s admitted stake in those companies comes from his partnership in the venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Gore joined the firm last November, forging a partnership between KPCB and the London-based Generation Investment Management, a firm Gore chairs, and which steers investments in green and “sustainable” companies.

This month, KPCB announced it has invested $500 million into start-up “green growth” companies, and another $700 million into more established greentech, information technology and life science ventures.

The seed money is intended to “grow” the companies so they can be publicly traded. Both funds are closed to further investment. Last week, Generation Investment Management reportedly closed a $683-million “Climate Solutions Fund” to further investment.

The firms, with similar goals, differ in that GIM focuses mostly on public equities, while KPCB focuses on startup or expanding companies that haven’t gone public yet.

But without government action on climate change, some business analysts say green companies backed by KPCB are either unlikely to be profitable or that their growth will be slow.

To Gore’s critics, his financial stake in businesses that could profit from government policies designed to fight global warming demonstrates a motivation other than a selfless desire to protect the planet.

Gore has lobbied Congress and state governments to enact bolder environmental regulations. Gore’s defenders counter that he and his partners are simply looking at companies that will have long-term sustainability during the “climate crisis.”

“There are a bunch of folks that stand to make real money, who have invested a lot in companies that are not worth real money until the agenda that this ad campaign is advocating is achieved,” Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-enterprise think tank, said in an interview.

Companies in the KPCB portfolio, as start-up companies, might be in greater need of a helping hand from government policy changes, but the larger, more established firms in the GIM portfolio also could benefit if the government manipulates the current market by mandating alternative fuels or imposing a cap and trade system.

As a private citizen, Gore is not required to publicly disclose how much of his personal fortune is invested in the venture capital firm. KPCB spokeswoman Brianna Woon declined to say how much Gore had invested in the firms, and she said the firms couldn’t comment at this time on whether the greentech companies can succeed without government action.

Lack of government action could delay profits, but the free market is nonetheless moving toward clean energy on its own, said Gary Patterson, an analyst with the Fiscal Doctor Inc., of Wellesley, Mass. He predicts a good return for the venture capital firm’s green investments.

“It would be very helpful if you have government initiative. Without it, it will take longer for these to be economically viable,” Patterson told Cybercast News Service

However, Bert Ely, a financial analyst with Ely & Associates of Alexandria, Va., is skeptical that the kind of green investment portfolio Gore is advocating can be profitable without government action. History has shown green companies to be risky ventures, he says 

“Wind power, solar and bio-fuels all operate on tax subsidies or purchase requirements,” Ely told Cybercast News Service. “The government stimulates demand. The most notorious subsidy is the 51 cent gas credit for ethanol.”

“To the extent that you got some kind of government mandate here, whether it is cap-and-trade or a purchasing requirement, a taxpayer subsidy, to me that’s a dicey way to look for a return on a venture because what the government giveth it can taketh away — and often does,” Ely said. “You’re making a political bet, not an economic bet.”

(A cap and trade system would set limits on the amount of carbon a company can emit. The limits are called a “cap.” If a company has to exceed the limit, it would be allowed to buy credits from companies that pollute less. This transfer would be the “trade.”)

In public statements, KPCB has pointed to the likelihood of new government policies as a selling point for investors. 

“The growing sense of global urgency over our twin crisis — climate change and energy security — is now driving businesses to become green, consumers to demand green and policy makers to drive policies to accelerate the market adoption of green products,” KPCB partner John Denniston said in a May 1 statement announcing the new ventures. 

James Ritterbusch, a petroleum analyst and president of Galena, Ill.-based Ritterbusch & Associates, is skeptical about the ability of the green firms to succeed without government help. 

“It would be a challenge,” Ritterbusch told Cybercast News Service . “Ethanol would be a model. It was very difficult for ethanol to make inroads at all. Without a subsidy, it’s an uphill battle.”

[...]

Green business ‘will make money’

Last November KPCB and Generation Investment Management announced a “global collaboration to find, fund and accelerate green businesses, technology and policy solutions with the greatest potential to help solve the current climate crisis.”

When Gore joined KPCB as a partner, KCPB’s John Doerr joined the Generation Investment Management advisory board. 

GIM’s long-term strategy for investing goes further than environmental factors, said company spokesman Richard Campbell. He said other sustainability factors, such as corporate governance and staff retention, also play a role. 

“It’s too simple to say that. It’s just too simplistic. Generation’s success is not based on a cap and trade system in the U.S.,” Campbell told Cybercast News Service

“I don’t think you can read anything into Al Gore’s campaign to make people understand the severity of the climate crisis for the last few decades with the performance of the fund management business that he chairs,” Campbell continued.

The GIM portfolio includes investments in firms such as Johnson Controls, which could profit from the battery systems for low-carbon emissions vehicles in the future. It also includes General Electric, which has teamed with the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), an alliance promoting a cap and trade system to the United States.

Campbell said the purpose of GIM is to make money for its investors, and anticipating the climate crisis is one way of doing that.

“Generation believes that the climate crisis will have an enormous impact on financial services, will have an enormous impact on business,” Campbell continued. “Those businesses that are best able to take advantage of the opportunity for climate change will make money and those business that aren’t ready to face up to the challenges of the climate crisis will lose money. That is the basic premise about long term investment.”

Other companies in the Generation portfolio are Metabolix, a firm that develops bio-plastics, and alternative fuels; Waters Inc., a laboratory company that provides products for health care delivery, environmental management food safety and water quality; and Techne Corporation, which manufactures biological products. 

“He’s already in the global warming business,” Matthew Vadum told Cybercast News Service . Vadum is a research associate for the Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank that has investigated Gore’s financial interests in the global warming movement. “I believe Al Gore is a true believer, but he also is a smart businessman.”

========

Here are my closing thoughts. I have absolutely no problem with folks making money through smart investments. However, in essence – Gore  is using environmental concerns to force you (through government taxation) to subsidize companies he has invested in, thus making them artificially successful. In my opinion, this is gaming the system. (If you believe in 90% of the plots from Hollywood movies, this is only something that evil corporations do, such as oil companies and gun manufacturers.)

Meanwhile, Gore has been claiming that the “debate is over” with regards to anthropomorphic global warming. Doesn’t that seem at least a little convenient?

With that in mind, consider this article from just the other day:

Energy Guzzled by Al Gore’s Home in Past Year Could Power 232 U.S. Homes for a Month 
Gore’s personal electricity consumption up 10%, despite “energy-efficient” home renovations 

NASHVILLE - In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. 

“A man’s commitment to his beliefs is best measured by what he does behind the closed doors of his own home,” said Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption.” 

In the past year, Gore’s home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month. 

In February 2007, An Inconvenient Truth, a film based on a climate change speech developed by Gore, won an Academy Award for best documentary feature. The next day, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research uncovered that Gore’s Nashville home guzzled 20 times more electricity than the average American household. 

After the Tennessee Center for Policy Research exposed Gore’s massive home energy use, the former Vice President scurried to make his home more energy-efficient. Despite adding solar panels, installing a geothermal system, replacing existing light bulbs with more efficient models, and overhauling the home’s windows and ductwork, Gore now consumes more electricity than before the “green” overhaul. 

Since taking steps to make his home more environmentally-friendly last June, Gore devours an average of 17,768 kWh per month –1,638 kWh more energy per month than before the renovations – at a cost of $16,533. By comparison, the average American household consumes 11,040 kWh in an entire year, according to the Energy Information Administration. 

In the wake of becoming the most well-known global warming alarmist, Gore won an Oscar, a Grammy and the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, Gore saw his personal wealth increase by an estimated $100 million thanks largely to speaking fees and investments related to global warming hysteria. 

“Actions speak louder than words, and Gore’s actions prove that he views climate change not as a serious problem, but as a money-making opportunity,” Johnson said. “Gore is exploiting the public’s concern about the environment to line his pockets and enhance his profile.”  

Save More Bucks at The Mattress Ranch

My friends from Alaska alerted me to these local commercials. 

Here’s the stand alone final dance:

Here are a couple other amazing variations:

 

Peter DeFazio on the Fairness Doctrine

A few days ago I wrote this letter to Peter Defazio about the Fairness Doctrine. I was happy to get a real response from him. I thought that you all might find this interesting as it illuminates a clear difference in understanding when it comes to government power (his response is below, followed by my closing comments):

Representative Peter DeFazio,

 

Dear Sir,

I would consider myself philosophically conservative on most issues, so I know that we probably disagree on many things. However, I respect you greatly as a fellow American, and I enjoy hearing your opinion, however different from my own it may be. 

With that in mind, I am certain that you and I would agree about the importance for our government to secure liberty and protect an individual’s basic right to free speech. (see footnote 1)

For instance, it would be detrimental to individual liberty for the government to force individuals, groups, or companies to present certain viewpoints or ideas (whether Left leaning, or Right) to the public. In other words – it is a similar violation of liberty to have government forcing radio stations to promote certain ideas, as it is having the government force an environmental group to present certain viewpoints on a college campus. 

Thus, I am confused as to why you would support legislation such as the Fairness Doctrine – which essentially amounts to the government forcing radio stations to carry certain aspects of content. 

Who decides what’s fair? As a consumer of radio, I don’t need the government to decide what sort of speech I should be hearing. Similarly, I wouldn’t want the government telling colleges what their professors should be teaching.

The best thing about America, is that individuals have the liberty to support or not support stations, organizations, and institutions that carry viewpoints they like or dislike. For instance, I enjoy the freedom to discourage local radio stations from carrying jerks like Michael Savage, in favor of talkers with more class. I don’t need the government to step in and balance things out. I would be just as opposed to the government forcing Air America to carry conservative viewpoints as I would of the government forcing you to provide an opposing opinion when you give a speech.  

Essentially, the issue here is personal Liberty. Our basic freedom to disagree, and yet discuss our differing viewpoints is what makes America so great. This is what freedom of speech (see footnote 1) is all about. In this case, I think we should let the people individually decide what they wish to listen to or not. The more personal choice individuals have, the freer we all are as a people.

Imagine you had your own radio show where you talked about your viewpoint on policies and government. Does it make sense for the government to require the stations carrying your show to have to provide opposing viewpoints? No. If people want to listen to your show they will – if they don’t, they’ll switch stations. 

Even worse, how do you determine an ‘opposing viewpoint’? There are millions of different viewpoints (Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Universalist, Constitutional…just to get started) out there – it would be an impossible task for government to regulate. If government required this, most radio stations would probably just can everything. Then people wouldn’t hear any viewpoint. The bottom line is that this judgement is best left to each individual person. 

Anyway, that’s my opinion on the matter. Like I said, I know we disagree on a lot – but I would encourage you to please consider my argument and perhaps reconsider your stance on things like the Fairness Doctrine. Likewise, I would also be interested in your point view on this topic.

Thanks so much for your time!

Respectfully yours,

========= Here is his response (I highlighted a couple things to discuss at the end):

Dear Mr._______:

Thank you for your recent message on the Fairness Doctrine. I appreciate hearing from you.

The Fairness in Broadcasting act, which is better known as the Fairness Doctrine, was repealed in 1987.  It provides that when broadcast stations discuss issues of public importance, they give reasonable time to opposing views. It in no way infringes on anyone’s First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court agreed in its ruling in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC.

But more importantly, it is important to note that the Fairness Doctrine does not in any way restrict people from expressing their views on the public airwaves. Talk radio hosts would be free to continuing doing the same shows they do today.  The doctrine merely requires license holders to allow for opposing points of view to be heard.  Hearing a fair and balanced debate is critical to helping Americans fully understand the issues our country faces.

The bottom line is that the airwaves over which over-the-air television and radio broadcast are distributed are owned by the American public, not the corporations that are granted a temporary license to carry programming on a given station.  Therefore, it is entirely reasonable to require the license holder to act in the public interest by ensuring an opportunity for conflicting views to be heard on pressing issues of national importance.  But, again, that doesn’t mean that each viewpoint would have to be offered equal time or that a talk radio host would be restricted in what issues he or she could discuss or what guests they could have on.    

Again, thanks for contacting me on this matter. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Rep. Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON

===================

I think that is an interesting response and I am very happy that Rep. DeFazio (or his staffers…) took the time to reply. Clearly, you can see that he believes that the government should require radio stations to allow for opposing viewpoints because it is in the public good

Here lies a crucial departure in our understandings when it comes to governmental power. It seems clear that it is Rep. DeFazio’s view that the government decides what is in the best interest of the public. In this case, that means requiring a radio station to provide “conflicting views. (see footnote 2)

This is a monumental moment of clarity!

I believe in the opposite. I think that the power lies in the publics’ free choice (that’s you!) to decide what they view to be good for themselves.

One quick possible objection before I expand on that idea:

It is logical to argue that the government is “the people”. After all, we elect them right? I mean, the fine folks of District 4 in Oregon chose to elect Rep. DeFazio, correct?

Of course this is true.

However, what people may not realize is that the public also elected to make certain radio shows (with certain viewpoints) successful over the airwaves in a much more direct and democratic way: With their own choice to listen! 

Radio is successful only when it can generate revenue from advertising. Advertiser’s only sponsor shows that have good listener ratings. Therefore, the public (again…that’s you) have chosen to listen to whatever they/you want, in their/your own interest.

This is the very crux of personal Liberty in a free market system. You get to choose what is in your own best interest. Not The State! (You cannot get a more fundamentally core conservative principal than this.) Furthermore, did District 4 elect Rep. DeFazio so that he could decide what is in our best interest? I highly doubt it. 

This is what Liberty and America in general, is all about: No matter who is elected into government, whether Republican or Democrat, what gives them the right to choose for you what is in your best interest.  

This is fundamentally why I am now a conservative. I believe that the greatness of America lies in the fact that the power of our government is directly in the hands of it’s people. You and I are far better judges of what is in our own best interest than The State. And like I said in my letter, I have the freedom to turn off the radio when I feel that a certain viewpoint is not in my best interest, and so should you.

What do you think?

-Footnotes:

  1. Scrap the free speech stuff. I was mistaken to include that. As Rep. DeFazio (or his staffers…) rightly pointed out, this has little to do with First Amendment rights.  Rather, it has more to do with peoples choice over what is in the public interest and who decides that. I regret bringing the First Amendment into the discussion.
  2. I thought that comment was interesting because anyone who has listened to radio for more than a few seconds would realize that there are all kind of conflicting views. In fact, I prefer shows where the host intentionally and only takes callers with opposing views, because it’s great radio!!! I would assume that either Rep. DeFazio doesn’t spend a great deal of time listening to radio shows, or perhaps only listens to one rather boring show where everyone agrees…


UPDATED: About the Crap

I just updated the “About the Crap” section. Here is the intro, but please feel free to take a pass at the whole thing:

—————-

What the Crap has evolved a great deal from it’s first creation. You can see this best yourself if you stroll through the archives. Originally, I planned on posting a balance of serious items and humorous items. The scales have shifted a little bit in the serious direction – mainly because I feel like there is a wealth of interesting topics to discuss that just don’t really get enough clarity. In fact – one of the principals I have come to adopt (props to Dennis Prager) is the concept that clarity is of much higher value than agreement.

I don’t at all mind someone holding a different opinion than mine over some issue. Instead, it is much more helpful to try to understand why someone holds a different viewpoint. (Here’s a silly example: it’s like those lower back tattoos on girls – I don’t so much care that someone has one, but I would like to know – why the crap did they get a tattoo there?) If you leave a comment on this blog, please keep that in mind.

Another thing – in the past, I realize that I have come down on certain groups or persons with somewhat over-the-top harshness. For this, I apologize, as I know it works counter to a somewhat light-hearted and friendly environment which I would hope to encourage on WTC. I don’t take any joy in offending people. 

Finally, I believe it is important to know a little about the author of a book you are reading – and I believe that can also be true for blogs. Therefore – the following is a little bit of information about myself so that you can get an idea of what has, at least in some ways, shaped my viewpoint.

Let’s start with some of the least important items and work down to things that are more meaningful. 

Read the Rest

Glued To His Seat

How exactly is this Home Depot’s fault?

JUNE 13–A St. Louis man claims that he was injured last year after being glued to a toilet seat in a Home Depot and is suing the retail giant for negligence. Haywood Rosales, 31, charges that during an August 2007 visit to a Home Depot in Florissant, Missouri he used a store bathroom and came into contact with a toilet seat “covered with adhesive,” according to his Circuit Court lawsuit. Rosales’s lawyers told TSG that their client did not notice the adhesive before sitting down and that he used his cell phone to alert his wife, with whom he was shopping, after realizing “he was glued to the toilet seat.”

[...]

When Rosales stood up, the complaint asserts, he “received cuts, bruises, and tearing on his buttocks and thighs,” and subsequently “endured the embarrassment, pain, and suffering of the initial injury and its concomitant treatment.”Full Story and copy of Plaintiff claim

Part of the claim:

7. Defendant failed to warn persons attempting to use the restroom, including Plaintiff, of the dangerous condition of the toilet seat, when it knew, or by the exercise of ordinary care, would have known that such failure to warn was likely to cause persons using the restroom to become adhered to the toilet seat and be injured by reason of the conditions of the toilet seat referred above.

This is the part that I think is a bunch of crap:

9. The Home Depot knew or should have known, after the incident in Boulder, Colorado, that there would be a strong possibility that instances of copycat behavior would occur, especially since the Home Depot sells a wide variety of adhesive products, and that same could be used in a similar manner to recreate, or to cause a similar situation.

So they should have know that it was possible that someone could have misused one of their products?

What’s next?

Microsoft should have known that it was possible for someone to overuse an XBOX and become morbidly obese…

Toyota should have know that it was possible for drivers to abuse alcohol and then possibly drive Toyota’s vehicles into oncoming traffic…

There just has to be more to this case.

Somewhat related:

Domestic Oil Production

Believe it or not, I really haven’t been all that impressed with the Republicans in Congress for the last several years. I feel like they have gotten a few things right – but it seems like they have failed to really promote and communicate policy that promotes Liberty, among other things. However – I do think they deserve credit for understanding the importance of energy independence. Today I ran across the following:

Congressman Roy Blunt put together these data to highlight the differences between House Republicans and House Democrats on energy policy:

ANWR Exploration
House Republicans: 91% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

Coal-to-Liquid
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 78% Opposed

Oil Shale Exploration
House Republicans: 90% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Exploration
House Republicans: 81% Supported
House Democrats: 83% Opposed

Refinery Increased Capacity
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 96% Opposed

SUMMARY

91% of House Republicans have historically voted to increase the production of American-made oil and gas.

86% of House Democrats have historically voted against increasing the production of American-made oil and gas.

HT: Powerline

I am all for developing alternative fuel sources and being sensitive to the environment, but realistically, we need a practical oil solution now. Freeing the oil companies to drill and produce oil here in the US seems to make sense, hence – I can grant credit to the House Republicans energy policy (at least attempted…) on this one. Anyone have any better ideas?

If you can sit, you can get fit…Hawaii Chair

What I would do to get one of these…

…of course, besides paying for one…

Boy Scouts praised as heroes after twister kills 4

Awesome… (photo from the AP). Be sure to link over and read the full article at the bottom.


BLENCOE, Iowa – When the howling winds finally died down, the Boy Scouts — true to their motto, “Be Prepared” — sprang into action.

Putting their first-aid training to use, they applied tourniquets and gauze to the injured. Some began digging victims from the rubble of a collapsed chimney. And others broke into an equipment shed, seized chainsaws and other tools, and started clearing fallen trees from a road.

Dozens of the Scouts, ages 13 to 18, were hailed for their bravery and resourcefulness Thursday, the morning after a twister flattened their camp in Iowa and killed four boys.

“There were some real heroes at this Scout camp,” Gov. Chet Culver said, adding that he believes the Scouts saved lives while they waited for paramedics to cut through the trees and reach the camp a mile into the woods.

The 93 boys, all elite Scouts attending a weeklong leadership training session, had taken part in a mock emergency drill with 25 staff members just a day before the twister hit.

“They knew what to do, they knew where to go, and they prepared well,” said Lloyd Roitstein, an executive with the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

 

The Hawaii Chair

I needed this after the depressing court ruling…

Step aside Wii Fit:

Seriously?!? BWAHAHAHAHA! Barf-O-Rama Chair is more like it.

What. The. Crap? 

Hat-tip: Randy!!

Thank the Lord – there’s more:

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