This story coincides with the earlier post concerning global warming.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article.

via APNewsBreak: Arctic scientist under investigation – Yahoo! News.

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“They’re an environmental hazard, and they’re made of foreign oil,” said Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington. Taxing them at 10 cents apiece would raise an estimated $6 million to $9 million.

Oh, dear.  Is it possible that most grocery shoppers don’t really care whether a bag is environmentally friendly or made from foreign oil?  Even so, all Sen. Hartwell’s cries are intended to do is evoke emotions for both the environmental crowd and the energy-independence crowd at the same time.  Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

I have no idea how much it costs to produce a plastic bag in the bulk that a grocery store would need, but my guess is that by 10 cents would nearly double the price they pay and you would end up with one of a few possible results:

  • stores refuse to carry them to avoid the tax
  • stores charge more to customers who use plastic bags (who in turn shove as many items into one bag as possible causing potential difficulties in the parking lot)
  • stores spread the cost of the tax across the spectrum of goods and while no one really notices, everyone pays for the environmentally insensitive and foreign oil addicted shopper

But Democrats who control the Legislature have been singing from the same anti-tax hymnal as Republican Gov. Jim Douglas this year, with both saying tax increases would hurt any hope for economic recovery.

It is good that common sense sometimes prevails.

“I say bag the bag tax,” said Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, a Putney Democrat and candidate to replace the retiring Douglas.

It would be very unwise of Sen. Shumlin to support this tax and I’m pretty sure he knows that.

House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, was a bit less blunt. “I wouldn’t say it’s high on my list of priorities this year.” He added of the bags, “We reuse them as garbage bags at home.”

If speaker Smith still holds his position in the legislature next session, don’t be surprised to see this tax again.

Backers, led by the Vermont League of Conservation Voters and the Vermont State Employees’ Association, say the tax likely would cause people to switch from plastic bags back to paper or, better yet in their view, to canvas and other reusable bags.

Well, I’m not surprised about the Vermont League of Conservation Voters (although I had not heard of them until today), but what stake does the VSEA have?  I found this comment on their website:

Unions, environmentalists and (judging by the AP story) the public support generating revenue through a plastic bag fee, but legislative leaders are unwilling to even entertain the idea. It’s possible the fee could generate $6-$9 million for Vermont, while helping our environment.

I love the parenthetical thought, “judging by the AP story”, as though the AP is a paragon of objectivity (which is questionable) and as though anyone in Montpelier is going to say that they actually like using plastic bags when they know that they could face some kind of retribution either real or imagined.  This statement also gives the VSEA an opportunity to sound bipartisan by lumping all of the legislators together into one group.  Similar to the make up in Washington DC, the Democrats in Montpelier (generally making up the environmentalist crowd) controls the House and the Senate and could easily override a gubernatorial veto without getting a single Republican vote.

Sigh.

via Vt. plastic bag tax proposal seen coming too late: Rutland Herald Online.

The White House says more than 1 million jobs have been saved or created so far, a figure that is so murky it can never be verified.

via Teachers benefit from job-saving stimulus spending – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-.

If I had to choose one quote that summarized the story from this report it would be this one (emphasis added).  If I had to choose one word, then it would be “murky”.

There is so much from this report that is worthy of a more careful analysis that I think I’ll make a second post with a more thorough analysis (not that I am an ‘expert’ analyst).

GOP to showcase fireman Sotomayor ruled against – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-.

I’m not sure who chose the headline for this article (WCAX or the AP), but it shows either a slight bias against the GOP or an indifference to the words used to report the story.

From Dictionary.com (for verb definition of showcase):

  • to exhibit or display.
  • to present in or as if in an entertainment showcase: The bar showcases young jazz pianists.
  • to show to best advantage: The part minimizes her acting ability and showcases her singing.
  • to present as a special event: The TV network plans to showcase a new production of the play.

The (subtle) implication here is that the white firefighter from Connecticut is just entertainment (they don’t even use his name in an attempt to dehumanize him – it’s Frank Ricci, by the way).  He’s just for show.

The AP reports (sarcasm alert): Once again *collective sigh*, the GOP has to resort to cheap parlor tricks in their attempt to stall Sotomayor’s nomination to the supreme court.  Will those racist, sexist pigs in the GOP ever learn to be empathetic to the plight of females and minorities?

There was an article by the AP in the Rutland Herald yesterday:

State Program Helps Students Explore Gender

The article raises so many thoughts but here is one that I can comment on without sticking my foot too far into my mouth:

Steve Cable of Rutland, the founder of Vermont Renewal, an organization that promotes what he calls traditional family values, said he wasn’t familiar with “Gendertopia,” but he knew Outright Vermont. He said he was supportive of the group’s anti-bullying efforts, but not what he said was its focus on adolescent sexuality.

“It just makes me really nervous that sexuality and these very complicated social behaviors are being normalized and talked about with kids who haven’t figured out even their life yet,” Cable said. “I know that Outright Vermont promotes all gender identities and expression of gender identities, no matter how weird that might be.”

Of the roughly 1,000 words used to describe (even laud) the program and its mission, the AP writer gives a scant 104 describing concerns with the “Gendertopia” program.  Is that the extent to which there is concern over programs like these being run with taxpayer money?

More significantly is the way the “opposition” opinion is presented in the article:

Steve Cable of Rutland, the founder of Vermont Renewal, an organization that promotes what he calls  traditional family values (emphasis mine)

This phrase in the report highlights how the Left are waging the battle for significance in American culture (it also likely exposes the perspective from which the AP reporter is writing).  Whether it was intentional or not, the reporter has pushed Cable, Vermont Renewal, and traditional values itself to the fringe of the argument by essentially writing that traditional values are in the eye of the beholder.  In other words, there is disagreement about what traditional values are.  This means that people who support and believe in certain moral codes that have been around for centuries, even millenia, now have to be very specific in defense of their position.  They are having their rhetoric taken away from them by this kind of reporting.

On the one hand the devaluing of the traditional values rehtoric should be fine, even a call to action, for those on the Right of social issues.  It forces them to identify the details of their arguments and hopefully present a more thorough case for their position.  Perhaps this is what was intended when Peter writes:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to the give the reason for the hope you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)

On the other hand, most people either don’t have the time, or the energy, to define and articulate their positions with such detail and precision.  We tend to leave that to the politicians or “intellectuals” of our time.  We do that at the peril of losing the battle for the soul of our culture.

Words are important and the use of them by reporters in this manner either demonstrates an ignorance of their use or it demonstrates a deliberate sabotage of their significance.  I can’t judge the motives of this reporter, but I am discouraged by the devaluing of the phrase “traditional values” either way.

Obama throws $75 billion lifeline to homeowners (AP)

Poll: Public fears about troubled economy growing (AP)

These two headlines appeared on my Yahoo!Mail account when I logged in this morning.  I haven’t taken the time to read both articles, but does anyone else find it ironic that the public fears about the economy are growing even as Obama is throwing more and more money at the problem?

Where is the hope?