Monday, August 29, 2005

New CAFE Standards Attempt End Run Around State Emissions Laws

While environmentalists are focused on the fuel economy aspects of the Bush administration's proposed new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, what is little noticed is an attempt to prevent states from setting tailpipe emission standards that are tougher than federal standards.

Norm Mineta unveiled a White House plan requiring higher mileage standards for cars and light trucks at a Los Angeles service station - in the state that leads the way on reducing automotive emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. But Bush's proposed reform of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards includes a provision directly conflicting with California's law, embraced so far by seven Northeastern states and, tentatively, by Washington. The new rules would prohibit states from setting higher emission standards than the federal government's. Automotive manufacturers sued over California's higher standards - litigation the Bush administration supports.

The California standards attempt to improve air quality by curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, beginning with the 2009 model year. Northeastern states - including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont - have embraced them.

Since the seventies, California has had tougher emissions standards than the rest of the country. As California is too large a market to ignore, automakers were forced to develop the technology to reduce emissions sooner than they would have if California hadn't forced them to. Other states benefited as well, since as national emission standards were tightened, the necessary R&D and gearing up for more advanced pollution control devices had already been done - effectively subsidized by the slightly higher prices paid by Californians for their vehicles. (That's OK, you can thank us later.)

But California is not going to take this lying down.

California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chair Cindy Tuck responded to statements made by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which assert that states do not have the authority to adopt motor vehicle standards that limit greenhouse gas emissions.

"NHTSA's preamble statement is not binding on ARB and is simply wrong. Congress gave California broad authority to adopt emission standards for motor vehicles when it passed the original Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1970 and it continued that authorization in the 1990 amendments. It has been understood for years that air quality regulations adopted by California might indirectly affect fuel economy, but the authority was granted nonetheless," said Cindy Tuck, ARB Chair.

The CAA gives the state clear authority to adopt motor vehicle standards that limit tailpipe emissions, with the understanding that those standards would likely differ from those adopted nationally. The state has stood firm on its assertion that California's greenhouse gas regulation is not a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard but a pollution control standard that limits ozone-forming nitrogen dioxides and hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) as well as carbon dioxide. In addition to being primary building blocks of ozone, nitrogen oxides are major contributors to California's particulate matter and acid deposition problems.

"Our Greenhouse Gas regulation is the centerpiece of Governor Schwarzenegger's work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Tuck said. "We will vigorously defend this regulation against unwarranted and misguided attacks."


So as usual, when they're waving their right hand around, you'd better keep an eye on what's going on with their left.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Melanie Morgan, Super Mom

Reading about the spontaneous grassroots "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour organized by the spontaneous grassroots Move America Forward organization which was set up by the spontaneous grassroots Republican PR firm of Russo, Marsh and Rogers got me to thinking about Melanie Morgan, MAF's co-chairman.

I used to listen to Melanie when she was a reporter at KGO Radio in San Francisco. She was a good reporter with solid broadcasting skills and a pleasant demeanor. Then she left, and several years later came back to the Bay Area at right-wing talker KSFO. Something had changed; she was now a hate-spewing wingnut.

What the hell happened to her?

A lot, apparently, none of it good.

"I was in a terrible environment, [a] smoke-filled room, hardly taking care of myself. I was gambling right up until an hour before I gave birth."

After their baby son, CJ, was born, Morgan, who is now 42, swore that she would quit. "I think Morgan really believed that the arrival of our child was going to change everything," her husband Jack says.

It didn't. Two weeks after giving birth, she started gambling again. She brought CJ with her to the clubs. "He would sleep, and I would play," she recalls. "Then, when he would wake up and cry. That was the worst part because people around you don't particularly appreciate a crying child," she says.

The cocktail waitresses and the other gamblers helped take care of him. Her husband insisted that she stop bringing CJ to card games. So Morgan ordered her stepson Greg to babysit. Greg says that this was almost a daily occurrence.

By this time, Morgan was hiding from her husband. He put the baby in a car seat and drove around until he spotted his wife's car. One night, her husband confronted Morgan with her son. "I put the baby in the car seat in the center of the round poker table on the green felt with the chips and the cards and everything surrounding my son," he says. "And I looked at Morgan, and the other players were a little astonished. They're not used to seeing babies on the green felt," he says.

Sometimes he would bring the baby inside the card room and announce loudly, "Time to come home. Time to come home and be a mom and be my wife." It was, he says, "out of control."

One day, when Greg was looking after CJ, the baby wouldn't stop crying. He called her and asked her to come home. She refused. Greg ended up slapping CJ hard in the face, leaving a large bruise. A family doctor reported the bruise to child protective services, which ordered the couple to obtain family therapy. Morgan was told to quit gambling, or risk losing her baby.

Happily, Melanie got help for her gambling addiction and turned her life around. She is now a successful talk show co-host and a lie and hate spewing talking head on cable TV. But you have to wonder if her experience with no-good, meddling, liberal social workers might not have left her a tad bitter. Ya think?

And who would you rather have for your Mom - Melanie Morgan or Cindy Sheehan?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Smearing Cindy Sheehan: The Evolution of a Lie

One of the popular stories circulating in Wingnut World is that Cindy Sheehan has said that "America is not worth dying for." The only problem is, she didn't say that.
Our dear right-wing friends at DiscoverTheNetwork were kind enough to post a transcript of Cindy's talk at San Francisco State University on April 27, 2005. Amazingly, it appears to be accurate. Here's the relevant portion -
"I take responsibility partly for my son's death, too. I was raised in a country by a public school system that taught us that America was good, that America was just. America has been killing people, like my sister over here says, since we first stepped on this continent, we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bullshit to my son and my son enlisted. I'm going all over the country telling moms: "This country is not worth dying for. If we're attacked, we would all go out. We'd all take whatever we had. I'd take my rolling pin and I'd beat the attackers over the head with it. But we were not attacked by Iraq. "
Obviously, "this country" refers to Iraq.
When the story appeared on DiscoverTheNetwork's sister site, FrontpageMag, these words were combined with other parts of the speech and magically transformed into this -
"George Bush and his neo-conservatives killed my son," she said tearing up a bit. "America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for."
Also, in the FrontPageMag article, by failing to begin a new paragraph with the quote, it is made to appear that it was perhaps part of a TV interview conducted before the speech which is referred to earlier in the same paragraph. But from the way it flows into the rest of the story (conveniently interrupted by a picture), it is clear that this is not the case. In addition, the pieces from which the quote is constructed appear verbatim in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the transcript.
Finally, on Sunday I was accidentally watching Fox News and was surprised to see a video clip from the speech, and then Cindy was quoted as saying, "America is not worth dying for." Tellingly, there was no clip of this. Fortunately, this was caught by News Hounds.
So, apparently, spin is not enough for these people. They need to tweak the truth; in other words, they just lie.