Domestic Policy

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  Scientists Say Bush Stifled Data On ClimateJanuary 31, 2007 15:38 Democrats who control Congress turned up the heat on President Bush's global warming policy Tuesday at an oversight hearing where witnesses claimed White House political operatives stifled government scientific findings on climate change and other topics.

"Without strong action to restore integrity to federal science, our nation will be ill prepared to deal with the challenges we face," warned Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which released a survey of 1,800 government scientists who described political interference at agencies that study climate change, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Republicans on the panel said Democrats were using the scientists to make their own political statements. California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa questioned whether the surveyed scientists were a "self-selected" group that was dissatisfied with the Bush administration.

Another panelist, University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, cited numerous instances since the 1950s in which presidents have politicized science.

"Cherry picking and misrepresentations of science are endemic in political discussions involving science," he said.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, called on the White House to release "documents that contain evidence of an attempt by senior administration officials to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming and minimizing the potential dangers."
  Bush Directive Increases Sway On RegulationJanuary 30, 2007 19:18 When the @#$% did we become the USSR? Oh yeah... as soon as the Supreme court interfered with State's rights in 2000 and gave the election to Bush.

President George W. Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president's priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  Bush Brushes Aside Criticism Of Health PlanJanuary 30, 2007 18:54 President Bush brushed aside criticism of his new health care plan as "reflexive" partisanship and urged the Democratic-led Congress to work with him on the issue.

The president's proposal, to offer tax breaks to people to encourage them to buy health insurance on their own while taxing some with employer-provide health coverage, has received a chilly reception from Democratic lawmakers, labor unions and some consumer groups.

But Bush, who unveiled his plan in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, said that he has spoken to some Senate Democrats who seemed willing to open discussions.

"While some members gave a reflexive partisan response, I was encouraged that others welcomed this opportunity to reach across the aisle," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
  Us Environment Scientists Urge Tougher Smog RulesJanuary 30, 2007 18:52 Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday recommended tougher standards for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, but no action will be taken until next year.

Dropping the level of ozone allowed in the air would offer health benefits for asthmatic children and others with lung disease, as well as for healthy children and adults, the scientists said in a staff paper.

The current standard permits 0.08 parts per million of ozone, while the EPA scientists proposed a level between 0.06 and "somewhat below" 0.08 parts per million, according to the paper.

Unlike ozone in the upper atmosphere, which shields the Earth from damaging ultra-violet rays, ground-level ozone causes problems, especially for those with asthma and other lung ailments.
  Scientists ‘pressured’ to play down climate riskJanuary 30, 2007 18:50 TWO private advocacy groups told a US congressional hearing yesterday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at playing down the threat of global warming.

The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning.

Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to “global warming” or “climate change” from a report.

The questionnaire was sent by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private advocacy group. The report also was based on “first-hand experiences” described in interviews with the Government Accountability Project, which helps government whistleblowers, politicians were told.

The findings were presented as Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat, opened a hearing by his Oversight and Government Reform Committee into allegations of political interference as the Democratic-controlled Congress steps up its examination of the Bush administration’s climate policy.

 
  Army Probes War Contractor FraudJanuary 29, 2007 11:08 From high-dollar fraud to conspiracy to bribery and bid rigging, Army investigators have opened up to 50 criminal probes involving battlefield contractors in the war in Iraq and the U.S. fight against terrorism, The Associated Press has learned.


Senior contracting officials, government employees, residents of other countries and, in some cases, U.S. military personnel have been implicated in millions of dollars of fraud allegations.

"All of these involve operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait," Chris Grey, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, confirmed Saturday to the AP.

“CID agents will pursue leads and the truth wherever it may take us," Grey said. "We take this very seriously.”

Battlefield contractors have been implicated in allegations of fraud and abuse since the war in Iraq began in spring 2003. A special inspector general office that focused solely on reconstruction spending in Iraq developed cases that led to four criminal convictions.
  Bush Health Plan Likely Favors the RichJanuary 28, 2007 14:52 President Bush likes to say that his health-care proposal would "level the playing field" between people who get health coverage through their job and those who buy it on their own.

But experts said yesterday that it would tilt that field toward a kind of health insurance that Bush has long favored -- a high-deductible plan paired with a special tax-exempt health savings account, or HSA.

"I think it would be a big push for HSAs," said Mark B. McClellan, a health economist and former top health-policy adviser to Bush.

While McClellan thinks that would be a good thing, other experts said it would benefit the wealthy and undercut Bush's goal of bringing fairness to the private health insurance system.

In contrast with traditional health plans that typically charge $20 co-payments for visits to the doctor, high-deductible plans require consumers to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket for medications, physicians' services and hospital care before most insurance coverage kicks in. The deductibles are steep, at least $2,200 for family coverage, compared with about $220 in a traditional plan. But the special savings accounts enable people to accumulate a tax-free pool of their own money to pay the deductibles and other uncovered health bills, rolling over any unused funds to the following year. And premiums for high-deductible plans tend to be lower.

 
  Experts See Peril In Bush Health ProposalJanuary 27, 2007 10:30 With his proposal to uproot a tax break that has been in place for more than 60 years, President Bush has touched off an impassioned debate over the future of the employer-based system that provides health insurance to more than half of all Americans.

“Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans,” Mr. Bush said in his State of the Union address this week.

Mr. Bush said his proposal would eliminate a bias in the tax code that strongly favored insurance provided by employers over coverage bought by individuals and families outside the workplace.

Paul Fronstin, director of health research at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan organization, said: “The president’s proposal would mean the end of employer-based benefits as we know them. It gives employers a way out of providing the benefits because their employees could get the same tax break on their own.”
  EU Environment Chief Wants California To Join Emissions Trading ProgramJanuary 26, 2007 20:37 The European Union is working closely with California to bring it into the 27-nation bloc's trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions, the EU environment chief said Friday.

In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said members of his staff met with Californian officials last week and discussed how to make the state's planned program fit with a European one that has been operating for two years.

"We are trying to make their trading scheme harmonized in order to have them linked in the future," Dimas said.

He added that that such a connection likely will take at least two years.

Under the EU's emissions trading program, companies that produce large amounts of carbon dioxide _ mainly power plants burning oil, natural gas and coal – can trade allocations for how much they can release, giving them a financial incentive to release less greenhouse gases.

A deal between the EU and California would be a blow to U.S. President George W. Bush, who earlier this week in his State of the Union speech laid out his own plans for reducing emissions and preventing climate change.

Bush was criticized by environmental groups and some business leaders for not introducing an emissions cap-and-trade system.

 
  Can Bush's Oil Plan Work?January 25, 2007 10:37 A sweeping proposal by President George W. Bush to dramatically cut U.S. gasoline consumption over the next decade -- and perhaps change U.S. car culture -- was greeted with widespread skepticism from automakers, environmentalists and political experts yesterday.

Greenpeace called the plan, unveiled in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday evening, "delusional," while the automobile industry insisted it was already going down the environmental green road and did not need new legislation to reduce fuel consumption.

Some long-time presidential watchers noted every president since Richard Nixon has pledged to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil, only to see the plans ultimately fail when subsequent Congresses fail to take up the cause.

When you see legislation full of wonderful promises, think of it like a New Year's Resolution," said Jerry Taylor, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a Washington think-tank. "Easy to make but rarely kept."

The proposals outlined in Mr. Bush's second last State of the Union Address call for a 20% cut in gasoline use over 10 years.

That could mean a radical change in how Americans use cars every day -- there are about 140 million cars in the United States and 17 million new ones are sold every year --by forcing them to drive less or use public transport. Americans burn 385 million gallons of gasoline each day.

 
  Highlights Of Bush Environment ProgramsJanuary 24, 2007 11:46 These are the highlights of programs announced in the last year aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil, as detailed by the White House and the federal Energy Department.

* $1 billion in tax credits to promote clean coal technologies;

* $450 million over 10 years to demonstrate carbon sequestration technologies, such as burying carbon dioxide underground;

* $235 million to design, build and demonstrate a clean, coal-fired power plant


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* $100 million for research and development of hydrogen fuel cells;

* $60 million for computational science projects aimed at accelerating research on new materials, developing future energy sources, studying global climate change and improving environmental cleanup.

Most of these programs are part of the $2.1 billion Advanced Energy Initiative announced after President George W. Bush's 2006 State of the Union address, in which he said "America is addicted to oil," and that dependency could be ended by developing new technologies. The Energy Department's total budget for fiscal 2007 is $23.5 billion.

 
  Bush State Of The Union: Work With MeJanuary 23, 2007 22:52 Faced with a widely unpopular war in Iraq and a Democratic Congress, President Bush in his State of the Union address urged lawmakers to work with him to "achieve big things for the American people."

"Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on, as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done," Bush said Tuesday night (Speech transcript).

Bush put forth a wish list to extend health insurance coverage, reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent over 10 years and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

And he urged Congress to work with him to shore up the finances of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

It was his sixth State of the Union speech and the first time a president has been introduced by a woman speaker of the House. (Bush pays tribute to 'Madam Speaker')

But polls indicate he has a tough fight ahead as voters 2-to-1 are dissatisfied with his leadership. (Voters' opinions on key speech issues)

Bush said he will submit a budget that will eliminate the nation's deficit in five years.
  Ceos Ask Bush To Back Climate ProtectionJanuary 22, 2007 19:50 The chief executives of 10 major corporations, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President Bush on Monday to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reductions targets.

"We can and must take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection," the executives from a broad range of industries said in a letter to the president.

Bush, who in the past has rejected mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases, was expected to address climate change in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but has repeatedly argued that voluntary efforts are the best approach.

Major industry groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers continue to oppose so-called "cap and trade" proposals to cut climate changing pollution, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

But the 10 executives, representing major utilities, aluminum and chemical companies and financial institutions, said mandatory reductions are needed and that "the cornerstone of this approach" should be a cap-and-trade system.

Members of the group, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, include chief executives of Alcoa Inc., BP America Inc., DuPont Co., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co., and Duke Energy Corp.

 
  Congress Should Put FDA In Charge Of Regulating Tobacco ProductsJanuary 21, 2007 13:19 For years, the federal government has tried, ineffectively, to litigate away the effects of smoking on people and the public purse, pursuing expensive lawsuits against an industry that nevertheless continues to produce a needlessly dangerous product. Then, in 2004, it seemed that Congress might opt for a better strategy by giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. To make the measure palatable, its sponsors attached it to a proposal that handed tobacco farmers a $10-billion buyout package. Even so, the proposal died.

Now the new Democratic majority has a chance to finally pass this needed reform. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., plans to reintroduce the 2004 legislation before the end of the month. This is a good idea that has languished for too long.

Proponents of the legislation point out that the FDA would be able to crack down on tobacco advertising, especially that which targets children; require that packs carry much larger warning labels with much more explicit messages; and provide authoritative information about the contents of cigarettes and their dangers. Even more significant, the FDA would have the power to require reasonable changes in the composition of the product so that it would be less dangerous to smokers and those around them.
  Calls To Act On Global Warming Precede Bush SpeechJanuary 21, 2007 13:17 Environmentalists, evangelical Christians and congressional and corporate leaders have called for action on global warming in the days leading up to President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech.

Interest is particularly keen because of what Bush said in last year's address to Congress and the nation: that "America is addicted to oil" and that this addiction should be broken with technological advances and alternative fuels.

Since then, environmental activists and others concerned about the impact of global climate change -- more severe storms, destructive droughts, rising sea levels and higher insurance costs -- have looked for substantial steps from the White House.

Many have expressed disappointment. Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech may have unduly raised expectations, said Ben Lieberman of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

"I thought using the extreme rhetoric last year -- 'addicted to oil' -- was a mistake, because it could make people expect extreme action, and there really hasn't been," Lieberman said in a telephone interview.

 
  Bush Record On Energy Security MixedJanuary 21, 2007 13:15 A year after warning America of its addiction to oil, President Bush is expected to renew concerns about energy security in his State of the Union address. But will the rhetoric be followed by action? Up to now, the record has been mixed.

Aides hint of a major pronouncement on energy in the speech before Congress and the nation Tuesday night. Yet the president is expected to take a predictable path, urging expanded use of ethanol in gasoline, more research into cleaner burning coal and on gas-electric "hybrid" cars, and greater nuclear energy.

He may tweak his voluntary program on climate change. Aides, however, say the president remains opposed to mandatory cuts in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases as has been proposed in Congress.

A year ago, Bush declared "America is addicted to oil" and he set a goal of replacing three-fourths of today's oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. He pledged to press for alternatives to oil and for more efficient use of energy.

He has had some success in getting more domestic production.
  Texas View On Environment Is 18 Lanes WideJanuary 21, 2007 13:00 As President Bush readies a new plan on global warming, environmentalists say an 18-lane highway going up in Houston speaks volumes about how people in his home state of Texas view the planet.


Between 2003 and 2009, $2.7 billion of state and federal money will have been ploughed into expanding 23 miles of Interstate-10 in west Houston to as wide as 18 lanes in some stretches of the city's main east-west road.

"It is a concrete monstrosity," said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in the Texas city who fought the expansion of "I-10" and lost. "It probably shows as much as anything the philosophy of development here."

In his annual State of the Union speech to Congress on Tuesday, Bush is expected to call for a massive increase in the use of ethanol – a fuel made from corn and other farm products – to try to reduce US dependency on oil imports.

Environmentalists say more often he is on the wrong track.
  Social Security Is About Math, Not MexicansJanuary 15, 2007 13:18 For more than a decade, I've written about the need to reform Social Security. And I've blamed older generations of Americans for not fixing a program they know is unsustainable into the future.

My bad. It turns out, if I wanted to get everyone up in arms, all I needed to do was blame illegal immigrants.

Ah, yes. The folks who, we are told, wrecked our schools, ruined our environment and lowered our wages are now poised to steal our Social Security.

Oh, there's some stealing going on all right, but it doesn't have anything to do with illegal immigrants.

Here's the drill: Social Security is an intergenerational shakedown. Every generation pays for the preceding one. Sixty-nine million baby boomers have no problem paying for the World War II generation because, well, there are 69 million of them. But imagine the burden on younger workers of having to keep legions of aging flower children in a comfy retirement.

In 1946, the cost of supporting one retiree was split between 42 workers. Now, we're approaching the point where two workers will support each retiree. The trouble begins in 2016 when -- according to experts -- more will be going out in benefits than will be coming in as payroll taxes.

This is what I worry about -- the math. But, for others, the worry is about something altogether different -- the Mexicans.

Immigration restrictionists are apoplectic over the news that the United States has entered into a "totalization" agreement with Mexico. Under these agreements, which the United States has with 21 other countries, workers who work in two countries during their careers can combine what they earned in both places to qualify for retirement benefits under one or both systems. The restrictionists insist that the U.S. government has conspired with Mexico to let illegal immigrants loot the Social Security system.

That would be quite a charge, if true. But these pacts apply only to people who are working legally.
  Minimum Wage Boost by HouseJanuary 11, 2007 15:52 The House easily approved a bill Wednesday to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years, the first such boost in a decade.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

Oklahoma's five House members split along party lines on the issue, as Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat, voted for the bill and Reps. John Sullivan, Frank Lucas, Tom Cole and Mary Fallin, all Republicans, voted against it.

One of the items in the 100-hour agenda laid out by the newly empowered Democrats, the bill passed 315-116.

"Many hardworking Oklahomans struggle to make ends meet on the minimum wage," said Boren, who noted that the state has a higher percentage of minimum-wage workers than any other state does. "It's time their wages caught up with the increases they have seen in their expenses over the past decade."

The delegation's Republicans, however, wanted any increase in the minimum wage to be linked to tax breaks or some other kind of relief for businesses.

"Small businesses, which represent 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., are the backbone of our nation's economy," Sullivan said.
  '100 Hours': House Passes Minimum Wage HikeJanuary 10, 2007 17:18 The Democratic-controlled House voted Wednesday to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, bringing America's lowest-paid workers a crucial step closer to their first raise in a decade.

The vote was 315-116, with 82 Republicans joining Democrats to pass it.

"You should not be relegated to poverty if you work hard and play by the rules," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland.

The bill was the second measure passed since Democrats took control of the House, ending more than a decade of Republican rule.
  California Bill Would Raise Renewable Energy Goal | Bonds News | Reuters.ComJanuary 05, 2007 12:18 California electric utilities would have to make renewable energy one-third of their power supplies by 2020 under a bill proposed on Thursday by Democratic Assemblyman Lloyd Levine.

Levine, who chairs the Assembly's Utilities and Commerce Commission, said more renewable energy could help stabilize California power prices, reduce reliance on imported fuel, and improve air quality.

Levine co-authored a bill last year with Democratic Senator Don Perata that established renewable energy resource standards for California's investor-owned utilities and set a 20 percent goal for renewable energy supplies by 2010.

"In a year when health care promises to be a central issue for the legislature and the governor, the delivery of electricity generated by renewable resources will reduce pollution throughout the state because of the decreased need to burn fossil fuels," Levine said.
  House Approves 'Paygo' Budget RuleJanuary 05, 2007 12:17 The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to reinstitute the "pay as you go" budget rule that Democrats credited with helping end federal budget deficits in the 1990s.

By a vote of 280-152, the House approved the internal House rule that would require any new tax cuts to be paid for with other tax increases or spending reductions. Any increased spending on "entitlement" programs, such as the Medicare health plan for the elderly, also would have to be paid for with spending reductions or tax increases.

Defense spending would not be impacted.

With federal debt mounting after steep budget deficits throughout President George W. Bush's presidency, congressional Democrats, aided by a few dozen Republicans, pushed the paygo plan through the House on the second day of the 110th Congress.

House Democrats also have mulled the stronger step of legislation setting paygo into law, in addition to the internal House rule they approved.

While key Senate Democrats back paygo, it could be difficult to pass legislation in the Senate, which often requires a 60-vote majority on controversial bills.
  Senators Aim To Ease Up On Net, Phone TaxesJanuary 05, 2007 11:01 Members of the newly seated U.S. Congress on Thursday wasted no time in proposing a series of measures designed to extend and expand tax breaks on Internet and telephone service.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and John Sununu (R-N.H.) proposed legislation that would make permanent an existing ban on state taxes on Internet access. The ban is set to expire on November 1.

The moratorium, first enacted in 1998, was extended amid tense negotiations in 2004. Opponents of a sweeping ban have said it will erode municipalities' vital tax revenues, while supporters, including President Bush, have trumpeted a permanent extension as a means of ensuring more-affordable broadband access.

Last year, then-Sen. George Allen attempted to extend the Internet tax ban by attaching it to a broader telecommunications bill, which died in the Senate without a floor vote.

 
  Wyden Pushing Permanent Net-Tax BanJanuary 05, 2007 10:59 Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), John McCain (R-AZ) and John Sununu (R-NH) on Thursday proposed legislation to make permanent a ban on multiple and discriminatory taxation on Internet access and online sales.
The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act would forever prohibit three types of taxes that unfairly single out the Internet, including taxes on Internet access, double taxation (for example, by two or more states) of a product or service bought over the Internet, and discriminatory taxes that treat Internet purchases differently from other types of sales.

"Without this ban, consumers would face upwards of a 17 percent increase in their costs for access to the Internet and businesses would face a barrage of discriminatory taxes. Why should a product that's not taxed on the street or taxed in a store be taxed on the Internet?" Wyden said. "It's unfair, anti-competitive and would greatly harm one of the booming sectors of our economy. I commend Senators McCain and Sununu for their continued dedication to this long battle."

Wyden and former U.S. Rep. and current SEC Chairman Chris Cox (R-CA) began the fight for preventing discriminatory Internet taxes in 1998. Congress passed the first Internet Tax Freedom Act in l998. In the fall of 2001, Congress extended it for two additional years and in 2004, it was extended to November 1, 2007. Both extensions were passed under the leadership of Senator McCain as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and with the support of Senator Sununu.

 
  Nutcase Judge Roy Moore Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Close Loophole That Allows Lawsuits Regarding Religious LibertyJanuary 05, 2007 10:42 Former Chief Justice Roy Moore and attorneys with the Foundation for Moral Law filed an amicus curiae ("friend-of-the-court") brief today in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation case arguing that the federal courts should stop giving liberal groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation special permission to sue the government on behalf of "taxpayers"—in this case, to stop President Bush’s promotion of faith-based initiatives. The brief also takes a bold position that Justice Clarence Thomas has supported, arguing that, unlike the Free Exercise or the Free Speech Clauses, the Establishment Clause itself does not protect an individual right and cannot be the basis for an individual lawsuit. (Read the brief here.)



Judge Moore said, "We have an outstanding opportunity in this case to stop the agenda of liberal organizations like the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation, which wrongfully continue to use the courts to take away our religious liberty. The Supreme Court should close the loophole in the law that has unfairly allowed such organizations to bring such frivolous lawsuits."

 
  Religious Tolerance Means Allowing Oath On QuranJanuary 04, 2007 12:56 History will be made today when the 110th Congress is sworn in and Keith Ellison of Minnesota becomes the first Muslim member. But some Americans have been outraged by the idea that he will take his oath on the Quran -- even if only in a private ceremony for family and friends.


Radio talk show host Dennis Prager wrote on townhall.com that Ellison should not be allowed to swear on the Quran "because the act undermines American civilization." Prager declared, "If you are incapable of taking an oath on (the Bible), don't serve in Congress."
Prager's column reflected not just bigoted ignorance but outright hysteria. If Ellison were allowed to use the Quran, Prager wrote, "he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11."
Bigotry and hysteria also characterized the words of Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., in his widely publicized letter to a constituent. America is being invaded by Muslim hordes, Goode intimated, and Ellison's use of the Quran will be only the tip of the sword. Goode predicted there will be "many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the (Quran)."
We must keep out these unwanted foreigners, Goode wrote, if we are "to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America." Reiterating his position on Fox News, Goode said he wished that more people would "stand up for the principles on which this country was founded."

 
  Bush Tipped To Talk Tough On Energy But Snub KyotoJanuary 03, 2007 12:16 Energy will be a central theme of President George W. Bush’s state of the union speech this month, as it was in last year’s address when he briefly caught national attention with the claim that the country was “addicted to oil”.

But his critics doubt that he will do much more than call for more spending on alternative fuels, and again fail to embrace international efforts to agree a post-Kyoto regime to tackle greenhouse emissions.

“We’ve had the hydrogen economy, then alternative fuels, and ‘addicted to oil’,” said a senior industry lobbyist. “Yet on close Senate votes, such as drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he has not put his prestige on the line by making personal calls. Energy policy has been the creation of Congress. Almost anything Bush says in the speech is irrelevant the day after he says it.”

The administration rejects that, with one senior official noting: “It’s a lot more than rhetorical: what was done with the 2005 act was substantial.” Mr Bush has identified energy as a key area for bipartisan co-operation in the next two years.

Al Hubbard, chairman of the National Economic Council, who is co-ordinating White House energy policy, has also raised expectations. In a speech at De Pauw University he predicted “headlines above the fold that will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence”.

 
  Bush Vows to Balance Budget, Cooperate With DemocratsJanuary 03, 2007 09:16 Our president is an idiot. He's the cause of the excess spending and he knows that you can only save so much by cutting, especially when he refuses to cut the military.

President George W. Bush, facing a Democratic congressional majority for the first time in his presidency, promised to send lawmakers a budget plan that will balance federal accounts by 2012.

``Congress has changed,'' Bush said in remarks at the White House following a meeting with his Cabinet. ``Our obligations to the country haven't changed.''

Bush, outlining his agenda for the coming year, gave no hint about the direction he wants to take on the most pressing issue he faces: setting out a new U.S. strategy in Iraq. Lawmakers, including senior Republicans such as Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, have warned the president that Congress must be consulted on the course ahead in the war.

Bush is pursuing a political strategy intended to try to maintain momentum for his initiatives. While pledging cooperation with Democrats, he warned against raising taxes as a path to balancing the budget.

 
  "Clean Energy" Answer To Iowa's Pollution And Energy CostsJanuary 02, 2007 11:40 Environment Iowa's new energy policies might not only save the state over $1 billion in energy bills - they could also reduce serious pollution problems and create close to 5,000 employment opportunities by the year 2020.

Coal provides most of the state's power, but it also causes pollution from greenhouse gases, acid rain, and other dangerous particles harmful to the lungs. Redirecting Iowa's Energy report urges the state to mandate that at least 20 percent of Iowa's power comes from clean renewable energy.

Pittsburgh is also taking the step into clean energy by purchasing credits from Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future and Sustainable Pittsburgh, which acquired its energy credits through Native Energy, a renewable energy company. The purchases will go toward methane digesters to be used on farms.