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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Inconvenient truth--Nobody knows how to meet world power needs without emissions

    June 19, 2007

    Kyotoites assure us we can have our cake and eat it too. We can meet the world's surging demand for affordable energy and, at the same time, dramatically reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. Even carbon-intensive coal, we are assured, will have a future on Planet Gore, because technology will soon make it economical to capture the emissions and store billions of tons of CO2 underground in geologic formations. Planet Ark reports that Britain and Norway are trying to amend the 1992 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the “OSPAR Convention ”) so that the treaty no longer...

  • More on Bogus Food Stamp Challenge

    June 19, 2007
    Members of Congress such as Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) recently went on the "Food Stamp Challenge," in which they limit their spending on food to what some food stamp recipients receive in food stamps (an amount less than the maximum amount received by the poorest food stamp recipients). Earlier, I wrote about how it is not difficult to live on a food stamps budget. Now, the Washington Post has a story in its health section about how various people, such as the chef for a law firm and a natural foods store owner, were able to live quite well on a food stamps budget. For example, Rick Hindle, executive chef for the Skadden, Arps law firm (which is located near the White House, and represented Bill...
  • Dingell drops controversial provisions -- for now

    June 19, 2007
    Today's National Journal reports that House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D., Mich.) and Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D., Va.) have withdrawn provisions in their discussion draft legislation that would have blocked EPA and California, along with other states, from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. By withdrawing the provisions — fiercely opposed by House Speaker Pelosi and several prominent Democrats, including Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Barbara Boxer — Dingell and Boucher cleared the way for the committee to mark up energy legislation this week and next. As I argued in a previous post, the Dingell-Boucher provisions would not only protect the auto industry by keeping the authority to regulate fuel economy in the...
  • The "green faerie" flies again

    June 19, 2007

    Saw that the previously banned alcoholic beverage absinthe is now being sold by a New York liquor store at about $60 a bottle. I was intrigued. As a former New Orleanian who frequented The Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter (yes, sometimes on dates with Fred), I knew that the production and distribution of absinthe was banned in the U.S. in the early 1900s because a major ingredient was grande wormwood, which contains a substance — thujone -- suspected of being a hallucinogen.

    A green liquor (not a liqueur), absinthe often was referred to as the Green Faerie. It's a 140-proof anise-tasting liquor and is usually mixed with water, which produces a cloudy...

  • Let's Kill the Bilateral Agreement

    June 19, 2007
    Fran, you make a very good point. The big problem, as many of us at CEI have discussed, has been our nation's approach and our focus on bilateral trade agreements. Although tempting at first because they gave quick wins, the bilateral agreements have opened up great opportunities for the anti-trade forces to do all kinds of mischief. Meanwhile, we get caught fighting for agreements that are trivial in every possible way and a Doha round that's obviously going nowhere. When I was working on the Hill, we tried to calculate the benefits of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Free traders loved it and the Left-Right anti-trade/anti-freedom coalition hated it; we all acted like it was a big deal. But we all hid a secret: CAFTA didn't matter. In my boss' home state of Tennessee, the...
  • Crybaby Judge Can Be Fired for Seeking $54 Million for Lost Pants

    June 19, 2007
    Roy Pearson, an administrative law judge in the District of Columbia, recently cried on the witness stand while seeking $54 million from his drycleaners for losing his pants. He claimed at the trial that "there is no case . . . in the United States that comes anywhere close to the outrageousness of the behavior of the defendants in this case." (The $54 million he demanded at trial is less than the $65 million he initially sought in his lawsuit). In this Sunday's Washington Times, I explained why it would be perfectly appropriate, and legal, for the government to fire him for his...
  • Blaming SUV owners for genocide in Africa?

    June 18, 2007
    Al Gore and other alarmists call global warming a “moral issue.” But for them it is actually a moralizing issue. Global warming allows them to impute moral agency to the workings of inanimate Nature and blame political adversaries (George Bush, America the fuelish) when bad things (hurricanes, drought) happen to good people. By the same token, global warming becomes a kind of Twinkie Defense for tyrants and thugs. “You can't really blame the Sudanese Government for killing all those peasants; global warming made them do it.” U.N. Secy. Gen. Ban Ki-moon puts the point more diplomatically in his Washington Post op-ed , “A Climate Culprit in Darfur,” but that's the gist. His argument is that global warming heated up the Indian Ocean, which disrupted the monsoon cycle, which caused...
  • Buying Eyeglasses

    June 18, 2007
    I just went across the street from CEI's offices to pick up some more pairs of eyeglasses. Amidst a generally dysfunctional health care system, the American system (or, rather, the lack of a system) does a great job with eye care. There have been enormous innovations--LASIK surgery and disposable contacts most prominently--and plain old eyeglasses have gotten cheaper. A few months ago, I came across an invoice saying that, in 1989, my parents paid $120 for two pairs of eyeglasses PLUS $95 for an eye exam for me. I just got an eye exam and two pairs of glasses for $69.95. I'd suspect that the provider lost money on this but, so what? They got me in the door to buy and had a good chance to sell me a $300 pair of glasses. But the downward pressure doesn't end with simple, routine needs. When I looked at it a few years ago for my then boss Bill Frist, I found that the price of LASIK...
  • Zero Carbon Computer 100% BS

    June 18, 2007
    One of my favorite tech sites, Bit-Tech.net, commented today on a story by the Telegraph entitled "The wooden computer that adds up to zero." The story claims that PC World has produced a wood and aluminum PC that's "Carbon Zero." Richard Swinburne of Bit-Tech.net has a great commentary on this, especially the idea that simply removing fans will cut the carbon footprint of a PC! Cutting fans will only make a minimal impact, of course, and the savings in electricity don't warrant buying this over-price marketing ploy. Those advocating a carbon-neutral lifestyle should be offended by these false claims, but it's likely that PC World will be hailed for its efforts in cleaning up e-waste.
  • Prospects for more open trade closing up

    June 18, 2007
    Lots of articles on trade issues today — and most of them are bleak in terms of trade liberalization. Instead, reporters are focusing on the strong protectionist sentiment in the U.S. and what that portends for the World Trade Organization's faltering Doha Round of trade negotiations and for the renewal of “fast-track” trade promotion authority, which expires at the end of this month. Bloomberg News focuses on the Doha Round negotiations and the last-gasp attempt in Germany this week to resuscitate the talks. The article discusses this new era of protectionism, the waning appetite for multinational deals, and the increased focus on bilateral pacts. The Wall Street Journal (June 18...

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