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Archive for the ‘John and Ken’ Category

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I have a few catch-up items for everyone today in honor of Al Gore’s appearance yesterday before the House Committee on Global Warming (hasn’t congress heard it’s called ‘Global Climate Change’ now? ‘Global Warming’ is so last year.)

The VP has been recently dubbed “The Goracle” by his army of the faithful. [Because let's be clear, despite varying evidence for and in opposition to global climate change/warming, it is a matter of faith. Just as Christians have faith that Jesus is God and he will return to judge the quick and the dead, and just like Buddhists have faith they can work to expunge all bad vibes in order to obtain enlightenment, and just as Muslims believe they can subjugate the entire world and establish sharia law throughout the land, the global climate change religionists believe man is primarily responsible for global warming and the fate of the planet due to our actions and/or inactions--science can often be another form of provable and improvable doctrinal creed.] The faithful seem to overlook The Goracle’s obvious and environmentally damaging hypocrisies, most recently evidenced in his egregiously wasteful personal energy policies at his own mansion in Tennessee, and including the plane zips from state to state, country to country in a private jet delivering his Academy Award winning slide show to the eco-zombies of the world, when he could just as easily travel commercially much of the time.

But oh, as he claimed in yesterday’s hearings, and as he’s previously self-extolled, he’s living a ‘carbon neutral’ lifestyle through the purchase of ‘carbon offsets,’ or credits, from an enviro-friendly company that specializes in that sort of nonsensical diddle.

But even an organization that specializes in carbon offsets has no clue how they actually function to reduce specific amounts of carbon dioxide (human only I assume despite that fact that humans are not the leading cause of CO2 production.) Dan Skopec, Undersecretary for California Environmental Protection Agency, is a man who represents the cheerleading effort behind carbon footprint reduction, while ensuring that Arnold Swarzenegger’s and Dianne Feinstein’s environmentally unfriendly lifestyles are made to look much less horrific than they actually. Recently interviewed for the John and Ken Show on KFI 640 in Los Angeles, Skopec confessed, after repeatedly dodging the question, that he, and the scientific community as a whole (at least the tree-hugger variety), have no idea how many trees it would take, and how long they would need to remain standing, in order to offset the billions of tons of C02 we produce. The concept of Swarzenegger and Feinstein and The Goracle spending $10 to buy the right for a single tree to offset the gobs of carbon dioxide they produce in just one private jet trip is comedy. The fact that they obviously spend more (probably) for multiple trees with no clue as to what is officially necessary in order to actually reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ is an absurdity to the point of tragedy.

So send me $10 and I’ll nail the bill right to the tree in my back yard (if I did in my front yard, someone might steal the money and you wouldn’t gain anything)–you’ve just purchased the right for my tree to reduce your CO2 emissions. How much? Like Mr. Skopec above, I have no clue. But it can’t hurt can it? Yet that’s how most scams seem to function, and stating that global warming is the major emergency of our time as Gore claimed yesterday lends more credence to those who do not question what they’re told and their willingness to buy into a scam without thinking for themselves.

But all this matters little to the mindless legions who follow The Goracle. Like an apoplectic discharge, they punish those who don’t exactly buy into the global warming theory, while choosing to ignore billions of years of undocumented, unrecorded evolutionary earth history–ice core samples, yeah–that has shown the earth transforming, evolving, metamorphosing, and arguably transmogrifying (yes, Mother Nature, you can be an ugly bitch sometimes) throughout the eons, warming and cooling.

Of course, what all of this really boils down to here are new taxe increases for everyone courtesy of the Al Gore global warming conspiracy and his next bid for President of the United States in 2008. Still, I’d vote for him over George W. Bush any day of the week (of course, I’m kidding.  I would simply abstain.)

Anyway, here’s a fantastic documentary produced by the UK Channel 4 titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. Proceed further down the page for more news stories.

 

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Here’s a NYTimes piece from a week ago. Though a little old, it’s interesting.

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype

Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change.

But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.

“I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”

Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made “the most important and salient points” about climate change, if not “some nuances and distinctions” scientists might want. “The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger,” he said, adding, “I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand.”

Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.

Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.

Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”

Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe’s recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence.

“He’s a very polarizing figure in the science community,” said Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist who is a colleague of Dr. Vranes at the University of Colorado center. “Very quickly, these discussions turn from the issue to the person, and become a referendum on Mr. Gore.”

“An Inconvenient Truth,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, was released last May and took in more than $46 million, making it one of the top-grossing documentaries ever. The companion book by Mr. Gore quickly became a best seller, reaching No. 1 on the New York Times list.

Mr. Gore depicted a future in which temperatures soar, ice sheets melt, seas rise, hurricanes batter the coasts and people die en masse. “Unless we act boldly,” he wrote, “our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes.”

He clearly has supporters among leading scientists, who commend his popularizations and call his science basically sound. In December, he spoke in San Francisco to the American Geophysical Union and got a reception fit for a rock star from thousands of attendees.

“He has credibility in this community,” said Tim Killeen, the group’s president and director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a top group studying climate change. “There’s no question he’s read a lot and is able to respond in a very effective way.”

Some backers concede minor inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for a politician. James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” adding that Mr. Gore often did so “better than scientists.”

Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president’s work may hold “imperfections” and “technical flaws.” He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.

“We need to be more careful in describing the hurricane story than he is,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Gore. “On the other hand,” Dr. Hansen said, “he has the bottom line right: most storms, at least those driven by the latent heat of vaporization, will tend to be stronger, or have the potential to be stronger, in a warmer climate.”

In his e-mail message, Mr. Gore defended his work as fundamentally accurate. “Of course,” he said, “there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.”

He said “not every single adviser” agreed with him on every point, “but we do agree on the fundamentals” — that warming is real and caused by humans.

Mr. Gore added that he perceived no general backlash among scientists against his work. “I have received a great deal of positive feedback,” he said. “I have also received comments about items that should be changed, and I have updated the book and slideshow to reflect these comments.” He gave no specifics on which points he had revised.

He said that after 30 years of trying to communicate the dangers of global warming, “I think that I’m finally getting a little better at it.”

While reviewers tended to praise the book and movie, vocal skeptics of global warming protested almost immediately. Richard S. Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, who has long expressed skepticism about dire climate predictions, accused Mr. Gore in The Wall Street Journal of “shrill alarmism.”

Some of Mr. Gore’s centrist detractors point to a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that studies global warming. The panel went further than ever before in saying that humans were the main cause of the globe’s warming since 1950, part of Mr. Gore’s message that few scientists dispute. But it also portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.

It estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.

Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician and political scientist in Denmark long skeptical of catastrophic global warming, said in a syndicated article that the panel, unlike Mr. Gore, had refrained from scaremongering. “Climate change is a real and serious problem” that calls for careful analysis and sound policy, Dr. Lomborg said. “The cacophony of screaming,” he added, “does not help.”

So too, a report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.

Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Gore’s film did “indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.” But the June report, he added, shows “that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.”

Other critics have zeroed in on Mr. Gore’s claim that the energy industry ran a “disinformation campaign” that produced false discord on global warming. The truth, he said, was that virtually all unbiased scientists agreed that humans were the main culprits. But Benny J. Peiser, a social anthropologist in Britain who runs the Cambridge-Conference Network, or CCNet, an Internet newsletter on climate change and natural disasters, challenged the claim of scientific consensus with examples of pointed disagreement.

“Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.

Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.

“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.

Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”

Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”

Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.

“For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims,” Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. “We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts.”

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton who advised Mr. Gore on the book and movie, said that reasonable scientists disagreed on the malaria issue and other points that the critics had raised. In general, he said, Mr. Gore had distinguished himself for integrity.

“On balance, he did quite well — a credible and entertaining job on a difficult subject,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “For that, he deserves a lot of credit. If you rake him over the coals, you’re going to find people who disagree. But in terms of the big picture, he got it right.”

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Returning as the ‘Goracle’

Gore brings his message on global warming — and a reincarnated image — to the Capitol.

By Faye Fiore and Richard Simon, Times Staff Writers
March 22, 2007
WASHINGTON — The doors swung open and he made his entrance with cameras clicking, the wooden politician denied the presidency and derided as “Ozone Man” was coming home to the Capitol. But this time they called him a movie star and likened him to a prophet.

Al Gore left Washington seven years ago bowed by the 2000 presidential election and a little disgraced in the eyes of his party — couldn’t he at least have won his home state?

 

But he returned Wednesday reincarnated: the subject of an Academy Award-winning film, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, a 58-year-old guy who, slightly grayed and a little puffy, can share a stage with Leonardo DiCaprio and still manage to be the center of attention.

The onetime congressman, senator and vice president was back, this time to testify about global warming. The Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth” — the documentary about his traveling slide show on the ravages of climate change — doesn’t even belong to him; it’s the director’s. But it has pushed Gore into another orbit in Washington’s universe. People started lining up as early as 7 a.m. to get a glimpse of him.

“This is the most dangerous crisis we have ever faced,” Gore told a joint meeting of two House panels in an impassioned appeal for bold action. (He later repeated his case on the Senate side.) “This problem is burning a hole in the top of the world…. We need to turn the thermostat back down before that melts.”

Gore, who arrived in a new hybrid Mercury, sat beside a stack of brown boxes filled with 516,000 messages — collected over the last few days on AlGore.com — urging “real action.”

“There is a sense of hope in the country that this United States Congress will rise to the occasion and present meaningful solutions to this crisis,” he said. “Congress is a repository of hopes and dreams of people all across this Earth.”

As the morning hearing convened on the House side, the repository of hopes and dreams spent several minutes bickering about where the committee members should sit and how much time they had to speak.

They appeared to divide pretty much along party lines. Democrats hailed the “Goracle,” who saw this coming 30 years ago, and Republicans dismissed him as an alarmist.

Among Gore’s ideas: a pollution tax, an immediate freeze on carbon dioxide emissions with sharp reductions in future years, stricter vehicle miles-per-gallon rules, a moratorium on construction of highly polluting coal-fired power plants, a strong global climate-change treaty and the creation of a federally operated “carbon-neutral” mortgage association that would serve as incentive for building energy-efficient homes.

“I listen to you sometimes in wonderment,” said Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), predicting that Gore’s proposals would cost “tens of thousands of jobs and more empty factories.”

Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas) complained of an “all-out assault” on energy sources that are crucial to economic and national security.

In the confrontational camaraderie for which Washington is famous, Hall and Gore happily reminisced about the time they went to a meeting on Hall’s boat, then Hall accused Gore of “flirting with the death of the energy industry.”

Gore acknowledged his proposals faced serious obstacles.

In calling for a pollution tax, he said, “I fully understand this is considered politically impossible, but part of our challenge is to expand the limits of what’s possible.” He urged his former colleagues to “walk through that fire.”

The day will come, he said, when future generations either ask, “Did they think it was perfectly all right to keep dumping 70 million tons every single day of global-warming pollution into this Earth’s atmosphere?” or “How did they find the uncommon moral courage to rise above politics?”

Gore spoke mostly without notes and seemed more comfortable in his skin than when he was as a presidential candidate, even with a clot of photographers squatting in front of him. A notorious policy wonk, he touched on subjects such as light bulbs and the Arctic ice cap, which, he said, is melting even faster than previously thought and could “completely disappear in as little as 34 years.”

“If it goes, it won’t come back in any time scale relevant to the human condition,” he warned as his wife, Tipper, nodded in agreement behind him.

Members of both parties, who generally poke at their BlackBerrys during long committee hearings, appeared to pay attention.

The exchanges were sometimes confrontational, especially at the Senate hearing, where Gore dueled with one of the chief congressional skeptics on global warming, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.).”It seems that everything is blamed on global warming,” Inhofe said. “Last summer we had a heat wave and everyone said, ‘Oh, that’s proof it’s global warming.’ Then we had a mild December. ‘Oh, that’s proof that global warming is taking place.’ … How come you guys never seem to notice it when it gets cold?”

But Gore held firm, noting that a manatee showed up off Memphis last summer.

“First time ever,” he said. “It got too hot in southern Florida. I’m not making this up. Another one showed up off of Cape Cod, first time ever. Nature is on the run.”

Later, Gore invited Inhofe to breakfast to discuss the issue “without the cameras, without the lights.”

Much as he did in “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore reduced the science to simple metaphors.

When asked whether the United States should be taking drastic action when China and India were greater polluters, Gore explained that the U.S. accounted for 23% of carbon emissions and “like a bucket with a hole in it, you can still use the bucket, but it’s a lot more efficient if the hole is plugged.”

Outside the House hearing room where Gore spoke, a crowd waited for him to emerge. Three high school girls from New Jersey snapped his picture for their school newspaper, saying that he looked taller, older and more confident than they expected.

Gore left through a side door, missing an impromptu ditty by what sounded like a Dixieland band and members of the antiwar group Code Pink, attired in boas and assorted hats. He was nonetheless mobbed by photographers and squeezed into an elevator to escape.

“Run for president!” somebody hollered, just as the doors closed.

At the end of the day, after Gore finished his testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman, called Gore a “role model for us all.”

Gore thanked her and asked, “Now, you don’t give out any kind of statue or anything?”

Dan Skopec, Agency Undersecretary

Dan Skopec – California EPA

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It’s been recently established that ex-VP and ecological warrior Al Gore uses over 20 times the amount of energy than the average American consumes, thereby illuminating a copious magnitude of hypocrisy on a man who had freshly been honored with the best documentary feature Academy Award for the runaway hit that is his global warming-cum-environmental treatise slash slideshow, An Inconvenient Truth.

Again, I’ve always been rather partial to Gore, and I really don’t mind inherent hypocrisy because honestly, as I expounded upon in this post, everyone is a hypocrite (myself included) and all hypocrisy is inherent. My central problem with Al Gore’s particular brand of hypocrisy is the fact that he’s fucking Al Gore: politician, celebrity, activist, and self-proclaimed internet architect. If he were just some guy spewing vomitous, mindless, unsolicited, insipid, and uninformed opinions in a blog on the internet that is rarely read by anyone (hmm… sounds sort of familiar), then his hypocrisies wouldn’t even register as a blip on my radar. But because he’s Al Gore (and not just any run-of-the-mill Al Gore mind you, but prognosticator and grand soothsayer to the follies of mankind in regards to global warming) we as the people of the world, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, expect the mighty almost-president to damn well practice what he damn well preaches. If he doesn’t commit to his publicly broadcast enviro-ideals, then I simply expect him to shut-up about this particular issue.

That’s not too difficult to ask, is it? It’s not like I’m pushing Mr. Gore to go live in a cave. Far from it. I would never expect that. I’m simply suggesting that as a result of his hypocrisy, he’s irreversibly cast-adrift some serious respect many have held for him, including myself, and he earnestly needs to sit down and think about how he can live his life by the code he’s urging everyone else on the planet to adopt. I would suggest looking towards Ed Begley Jr. as a good role model, and I’m being completely serious here. If you want to live your life as environmentally politically sound as possible, then you can’t do better celebrity-wise than Mr. Begley Jr. Here’s a man who would rather drive cross-country in his electric vehicle (which he does quite often) than pollute the atmosphere with copious amounts of jet plane causing carbon dioxide.

And speaking of jet planes, it appears we have a new enviro-hypocrite in the political/public arena. My own California Senator Dianne Feinstein apparently uses her wealthy husbands’ private jet to ferry her back and forth across the country–from Sacramento, California to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. According to the L.A. Times article below…

A single cross-country round trip on a Gulfstream IV, or GIV, the model owned by Feinstein’s husband, churns out about 83,000 to 90,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, experts say. By contrast, on a per capita basis, the average American produces 50,000 pounds from all activities in an entire year.

That’s almost twice as much carbon dioxide produced in just one cross-country trip. It would take me almost two years to produce as much CO2 that Feinstein craps out in one trip to the D.C. and back. So assuming she were to fly hither and thither say, around 100 times a year, which would not be out of the realm of possibility for someone like Feinstein who works in the nations capital but calls California her home, our senator would excrete close to 9 million pounds of CO2 in only one year. Ack! How can my poor, defenseless atmosphere stave off such a fiendish attack?

Of course the article also lists California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger as another particularly vocal enviro-hypocrite–the attitudinizer (yes, it’s an actual word) so to speak. But now a new, previously unheard of, pseudo-phrase has been thrown into the mix, created I’m assuming to excuse those who evangelize eco-friendliness while engaging in behavior that is unequivocally eco-hostile, such as Schwarzenegger’s exhortations of energy conservation despite his unbridled love affair with the Hummer–a decidedly mother nature-terminating, gas guzzling behemoth. What is this new phrase? Carbon offsets.

So what are carbon offsets? According to the always reliable Wikipedia

A carbon offset is a service that tries to reduce the net carbon emissions of individuals or organizations indirectly, through proxies who reduce their emissions and/or increase their absorption of greenhouse gases. A wide variety of offset actions are available; tree planting is the most common.

Proper to the LA Times article, apparently Feinstein has already been purchasing carbon offsets for a while now, while Schwarzenegger is intending to buy into this scheme imminently. And though it appears purchasing carbon offsets is a relatively inexpensive proposal, allowing the buyer a certain sense of inflated ego and magnanimity, the results are a bit questionable. I don’t mean to imply that planting trees offers no real benefit to the environment, but to offset the damage caused by brutal enviro-terrorists like Feinstein, Schwarzenegger, and Gore proves a daunting task indeed.

In order to right the damage done by only one Feinstein trip to Washington D.C., one would have to plant 1,800 trees. So what if the carbon offset organizations simply don’t have enough time or man-power to plant 1,800 trees in one go? Well, one could simply plant a much more manageable number–say 90 trees–but those trees would have to be managed for 20 years before they offered a return on only one Feinstein jet trip. Assuming Feinstein probably makes around 100 Gulfstream IV private trips back and forth, a carbon offset team would be required to plant 180,000 trees per year in order to battle the gross injustice Feinstein commits against the environment.

So are these carbon offset companies actually planting 1,800 trees per every flight Senator Feinstein embarks upon? I somehow doubt it, and this seems nothing more than a deflection scheme designed to allow the powerful and wealthy to continue their environmentally damaging behavior while they persist in preaching and condescending to the rest of us how to live our lives ecologically sound while admonishing us when we stray from their politically correct, beneficent path.

Refraining from what one preaches is harder to cover up than it seems.

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Politicians’ flights called wasteful

Schwarzenegger and Feinstein preach energy efficiency but often fly fuel-gulping small jets.

By Paul Pringle, Times Staff Writer
February 28, 2007

Sen. Dianne Feinstein offers plenty of tips on how California households can combat global warming, such as carpooling and running only a full dishwasher.

But one bit of information Feinstein declines to share is the number of times that she flew last year on her husband’s Gulfstream jet, which burns much more fuel per passenger-mile than commercial airliners.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also has asked constituents to do their part to conserve energy — including cutting summertime power consumption — even though he takes to the skies on leased executive jets.

Aides say there is nothing contradictory between the pro-green pronouncements and the flying habits of the Democratic senator and Republican governor.

Some environmentalists aren’t so sure.

“There appears to be a discrepancy between calling on people to make personal reductions and using a private jet that exacerbates the problem,” Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell said.

Flying on a Gulfstream rather than an airliner is like driving a sport utility vehicle instead of riding a bus, O’Donnell and others say.

A single cross-country round trip on a Gulfstream IV, or GIV, the model owned by Feinstein’s husband, churns out about 83,000 to 90,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, experts say. By contrast, on a per capita basis, the average American produces 50,000 pounds from all activities in an entire year.

Nonetheless, Feinstein and Schwarzenegger intend to continue their noncommercial flying ways because their jobs demand a flexibility the airlines can’t match, spokesmen say.

Schwarzenegger’s office said he and a jet-leasing company are establishing a “carbon offset” program for the governor and fellow customers, retroactive to Jan. 1. Carbon offsets are bought from organizations that plant trees and support renewable energy enterprises, among other measures, to offset greenhouse gases produced by the buyers.

“This is big news,” Schwarzenegger spokesman Bill Maile said of the governor’s undertaking with NetJets, the leasing firm.

Feinstein, however, got the jump on Schwarzenegger. She began buying carbon offsets last year to partially cover the travel on the GIV, and will purchase enough offsets this year to compensate for all the trips, spokesman Scott Gerber said.

He added that Feinstein took “numerous” commercial flights in 2006, but flew mostly on the GIV. He balked at disclosing the tally of her Gulfstream journeys.

“We’re not going to get into specifics,” he said.

Noncommercial aircraft and other carbon-related indulgences have caused politicians considerable turbulence recently.

A conservative group has condemned Al Gore for racking up an average monthly electricity bill of $1,200 at his Nashville mansion last year while championing the anti-global warming cause. A Gore spokeswoman said the former vice president invests in renewable energy to offset his electricity use.

As part of an ethics push, the House and Senate are toughening restrictions on lawmakers who fly private jets, though exceptions for members and spouses who own planes are under consideration.

Earlier this month, Republicans accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of requesting a large military jet to fly her and family members between the capital and her San Francisco district.

Security protocols grant Pelosi occasional military flights because she is second in line to the presidency. Her office said she had only inquired about an aircraft with enough fuel capacity to make the trip nonstop, and would fly commercial if necessary.

Pelosi flew on private jets seven times in 2006, her spokesman said. “She made every effort to travel commercially whenever possible,” Drew Hammill said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer says she took four trips on private aircraft last year, one with multiple stops over 2 1/2 days.

“If you can take a commercial plane to get where you need to go at the time you need to be there, you should do it,” she said in an e-mail. “If not, you have to look at alternatives such as trains, fuel-efficient vehicles, buses, and in some cases, private planes.”

For that last option, Feinstein reimburses her husband, Richard Blum, for use of the jet, Gerber said. Blum bought the GIV for about $23 million in 1999. The reimbursements are based on a first-class commercial fare, with more than 90% of the money coming from Feinstein’s personal funds and the rest from campaign coffers, the spokesman said. Last year, the reimbursements to Blum totaled about $73,000, he said.

But a GIV’s operating expenses are much higher than a first-class booking. A round-trip Los Angeles-Washington flight on the Gulfstream burns about 4,500 to 5,000 gallons of fuel at a cost of roughly $20,000, depending on local pump prices, said Jeff Beck, a veteran corporate pilot. And that doesn’t include pilot fees, maintenance and parking bills.

“It’s the least environmental thing that politicians can do,” Beck said. He said Gulfstreams devour so much fossil fuel per passenger that “it’s like they’re throwing dinosaur bones out of the tailpipe.”

A coast-to-coast, first-class ticket on a major airline goes for about $1,200 to $2,500, round trip, according to a sampling of three airlines’ prices Tuesday.

A Boeing 767-200 airliner burns about 1,550 gallons an hour — three times as much as a GIV. But the larger plane typically can seat about 180 passengers, as opposed to a GIV’s 12 to 14.

Eric Carlson, executive director of Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit that sells offsets, said it would charge $229 to cover the emissions from the GIV round trip.

Schwarzenegger flies a variety of leased jets, which cost his campaign $733,000 during the three months ending last September. Maile said the governor digs into his own pockets for some flights.

He also said Schwarzenegger has converted one of his Hummers to biodiesel fuel, and plans to install solar panels on his house. His other three Hummers remain gas hogs.

For her part, Feinstein drives a hybrid Lexus sport utility vehicle when she is home in San Francisco, Gerber said. But she drives a Lincoln Town Car in Washington.

Not that the eco-crowd is eager to criticize Feinstein and Schwarzenegger, who are generally viewed as key supporters of the growing movement to curb emissions.

Representatives of some environmental groups either would not comment on the two politicians’ penchant for private jets, or suggested that allowances could be made in their circumstances.

“Given the exigencies of the campaign trail, if not the demands of governing of a large state, it may not be realistic to expect elective officials to fly commercial all the time,” said Jon Coifman, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But O’Donnell, of Clean Air Watch, invoked a loftier ideal:

“It is fair to hope that our political leaders will lead by example.”

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It is becoming more apparent with each passing day that former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean have been maliciously prosecuted by the United States government with U.S. District Attorney, Johnny Sutton as the primary malevolent force behind the unlawful suit and subsequent illegal detention of the two ex-agents in separate federal penitentiaries.

If, after having read this piece I posted last week, you are still unconvinced as to the evident innocence of Ramos and Compean, then you will likely remain obtusely stolid in your blind adherence to that belief–a belief that is crumbling as more passionate individuals than yourselves become involved, investigating, questioning, and bringing to light additional information for a case that was rotten to begin with. Your confidence in your government, in President Bush–a man who is purposefully opening our borders to illegals, and detrimentally expanding upon NAFTA through the Security & Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) in order to eventually create a North American Union–is alarming.

Yet there exist a large portion of the population who either know nothing about the plight of Ramos and Compean, or they callously and ignorantly side with officials who are on a massive PR push right now in order to deflect accusations of deception and wrong-doing on their part. To those who are savvy, it is obvious such people as Johnny Sutton and Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner are spinning and deceiving and hiding in order to obscure that fact that Ramos and Compean were railroaded by the government.

More comments from readers in this blog post

They shot an unarmed suspect (who they didn’t know was an illegal) in the back.
They tried to cover it up by picking up shell casings
They abandoned the shot man in the wilderness
They filed a false report about it.

Doing their jobs? Doesn’t sound like it.

and…

Looks like the President won’t be pardoning any criminals soon…

White House spokesman Tony Snow last week would not comment specifically on pardon proceedings, but he said the facts presented in court showed that Ramos and Compean tried to cover up what occurred.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton issued a statement in response to allegations the agents were prosecuted for “just doing their job,” saying “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“These agents shot someone who they knew to be unarmed and running away,” Sutton said. “They destroyed evidence, covered up a crime scene and then filed false reports about what happened. It is shocking that there are people who believe it is OK for agents to shoot an unarmed suspect who is running away.”

and finally, this last ignorant and cold comment…

If the President of the United States won’t even consider a pardon, why should I care about them?

While these are most likely comments from the same person, it is apparent that this person(s) has done very little investigation into the case of the border agents. Rather, he/she has relied upon the repetetive ramblings of Johnny Sutton to formulate his/her rash and uninformed beliefs in this matter.

But it is incumbent upon us, as those who proclaim the innocence of Ramos and Compean, to prove that innocence. There is no burden of proof upon those who believe they are guilty, as the commenter(s) above presume as truth due to the outcome of the original trial and the talking points of Sutton. However, and with confidence, I will say that due to people like Sara Carter of the The Daily Bulletin, Jerome Corsi, contributor for World Net Daily, and John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the John and Ken Show on KFI, the political prisoners Ramos and Compean will be vindicated and released while people like Johnny Sutton will be brought up on charges and punished.

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Memo casts doubt on agency’s assertions

Homeland Security won’t release papers on border agents’ case

By Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

The Department of Homeland Security’s assertions that two El Paso Border Patrol agents knowingly shot an unarmed suspect appear to be countered by the department’s own documents, the Daily Bulletin has learned.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told the Daily Bulletin on Wednesday that Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner has refused to deliver documents confirming his office’s claims that Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean admitted they “were out to shoot Mexicans,” and knowingly shot Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a drug smuggler, in a border incident nearly two years ago.McCaul and three other House members met with Skinner on Sept. 26, 2006, to discuss the agents’ case.

The Daily Bulletin obtained a confidential Office of Inspector General memo from an interview Compean gave to investigators on March 18, 2005.

The memo, dated April 4, 2005, supports the agent’s claim that he believed his life was in danger when he tried to apprehend the Mexican drug smuggler on Feb. 17, 2005.Special Agent Christopher Sanchez of the Inspector General’s office stated in the memo that Compean believed Aldrete-Davila was carrying a weapon when Compean fired at him. Sanchez was the main DHS investigator on the case.

“Compean said that Aldrete-Davila continued to look back over his shoulder towards Compean as Aldrete-Davila ran away from him,” Sanchez wrote. “Compean said that he began to shoot at Aldrete-Davila because of the shiny object he thought he saw in Aldrete-Davila’s left hand … Compean explained that he thought that the shiny object might be a gun and that Aldrete-Davila was going to shoot him because he kept looking back at him as he ran away … .”

According to McCaul and the other congressmen who met with Skinner – Reps. John Culberson, Kenny Marchant and Ted Poe, all Republicans who represent Texas – the inspector general told them during their meeting last fall that Ramos and Compean had confessed to knowingly shooting at an unarmed suspect.

The Daily Bulletin made five phone calls for comment to the Office of Inspector General on Thursday, and left the same number of messages again on Friday. None of the calls were returned.

“According to the inspector general, they had evidence that the agents said they were out to shoot Mexicans,” Poe said. “I found that hard to believe and asked if I could see that evidence. They never gave us what was promised.”

McCaul, a former federal prosecutor in Texas, said the Inspector General’s office has refused to provide any evidence thus far to support its claims.

He and his colleagues are now demanding that Skinner turn over documents related to the case or face a subpoena or contempt of Congress.

“I want to weigh the facts and the evidence in this case,” McCaul said. “Either it is total arrogance or gross incompetence on the part of the Inspector General’s office. If what (the DHS) told us was a lie, or if they misrepresented the facts on this case to members of Congress, we are going to hold them accountable.”

Full transcripts from Ramos and Compean’s trial last spring still have not been made available to Congress or the public. According to McCaul, repeated requests for the transcripts since November have been answered with excuses.

Ramos and Compean shot Aldrete-Davila on Feb. 17, 2005, after a foot chase along the Texas-Mexico border. Aldrete-Davila, who was struck in the buttocks, had fled a van the agents were pursuing; the van later turned out to be holding more than 700 pounds of marijuana. The smuggler was given immunity by the U.S. Attorney’s office and full medical treatment for his injuries to testify against the agents.

The agents were convicted of several charges related to the shooting, notably assault with a deadly weapon. Ramos received an 11-year prison sentence, Compean 12 years.

Aldrete-Davila is suing the U.S. Border Patrol for $5 million for his injuries.

Ramos said he testified during the trial that he saw Aldrete-Davila with something “shiny” in his hand, and told the Daily Bulletin he thought it was a gun.

According to the memorandum, seven other agents were on the scene at the time of the shooting, including two supervisors whom Ramos and Compean both stated knew about the incident.

No other agents at the scene that day were prosecuted, and some were given immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean.

Agents and supervisors are required to file a written report if they participate in or know of an incident, according to TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents nearly 11,000 Border Patrol agents.

“The steadfast refusal of the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to provide relevant information to Congress and the public about why Border Patrol agents Compean and Ramos were prosecuted causes people to wonder what they are trying to hide,” Bonner said.

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Ballistics data don’t support
charge against border agents

Investigator: U.S. attorney twisted evidence to fit case – ‘guilty of malicious prosecution’


Posted: January 28, 2007
10:45 p.m. Eastern

 

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Ballistics reports, used in the trial of Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, one of two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting fleeing drug dealer Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, do not support the prosecution’s claim the bullet was fired from Ramos’ gun, according to documents provided to WND from Andy Ramirez, chairman of the Friends of the Border Patrol. Despite the conclusion of a laboratory criminalist that he could not conclusively link the bullet removed from Aldrete-Davila with Ramos’ service weapon, a Department of Homeland Security agent swore, in an affidavit of complaint filed against Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, that Aldrete-Davila was hit by a round fired by Ramos.


Andy Ramirez

“Johnny Sutton and his assistants are guilty of malicious prosecution,” Ramirez charged to WND. “The prosecutors lied to the jury and he twisted evidence to make it fit his case. And when he couldn’t twist the evidence, the government demanded that the court seal evidence which would have been exculpatory to the defense.”

Nearly two years after the conclusion of the trial, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas has yet to release a transcript of the trial.

WND asked Ramirez if he was aware of the seriousness of his charges.

“I am very aware and I am accusing Mr. Sutton of a felony,” Ramirez told WND, “but I am basing my conclusion on the evidence I have examined in this case and the refusal by the government to provide evidence to substantiate its claim to the Congress and the American people.”

“Back on Sept. 26, 2006, officials from the DHS Office of Inspector General made serious allegations against both agents Ramos and Compean to four members of Congress from the Texas delegation,” Ramirez said. “The Inspector General has subsequently refused to provide their evidence to substantiate their claims to Congress. So I am also accusing the DHS Office of Inspector General of making false statements to Congress in order to prevent a congressional inquiry. I am asking the U.S. Congress to subpoena all documents pertaining to this case including the full transcripts, sealed testimony, and the sealed indictment against Aldrete-Davila in order to get to the truth of this case once and for all.”

Sutton told WND that as far as he in concerned, the issue was settled at the trial. Both defendants and their attorneys stipulated the bullet that struck the drug smuggler came from Ramos’ gun.

Ramirez argues the border agents did not have the best legal assistance, due to a lack of funds.

WND previously reported Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has accused DHS of stonewalling on the release of documents. Despite persistent requests to hand over promised internal reports, McCaul told WND Congress had not yet received the materials.

In the Sept. 26, 2006, meeting with the Texas Republican delegation, the Inspector General’s office claimed it had substantiating investigative reports that could back up their criminal charges against Ramos and Compean. Among the charges made by IG was that Ramos and Compean had stated Feb.17, 2005, the day of the Aldrete-Davila shooting, they “wanted to shoot a Mexican.”


Monica Ramos embraces her husband, former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)

WND also reported Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, last week filed a Freedom of Information Act request against the DHS Inspector General’s office to obtain those investigative reports. Poe took this action after DHS informed the Texas Republican delegation the documents would not be turned over to them because the Democrats were now in control of Congress and McCaul was no longer chairman of the Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Ramirez has worked on the Ramos and Compean matter for nearly two years, investigating the facts of case and interviewing Ramos, Compean, their families and others knowledgeable about the proceedings. He shared two documents with WND that, he says, undermine the prosecution’s case against Ramos.

In an affidavit filed by DHS March 15, 2005, with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas, special agent Christopher R. Sanchez swore the following:

Ballistics testing confirms a government-issued weapon belonging to U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, a 96D Beretta .40 caliber automatic pistol, serial number BER067069M, fired a bullet (a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson jacketed hollow point) which hit the victim in the left buttocks while he was attempting to flee to Mexico.

The second document, a ballistics report completed by the Texas Department of Public Safety, interests Ramirez both because of the agency that did the testing and the results of the test.

“For some unexplained reason, U.S. Attorney Sutton had the ballistics test performed by the Texas Department of Public Safety in El Paso, rather than by the FBI,” he said. “This was a federal issue that should have gone to the FBI and only to the FBI. The Texas Department of Public Safety had no business running a ballistics report on a federal case. The FBI handles all shooting incidents, whether it involves assaults or otherwise, concerning federal agents. DPS should have refused the case and demanded that the bullet be picked up by the FBI for analysis.

“If you ask the Texas DHS how many shooting cases they handle involving federal agents, they would have said, ‘None’. Then, if you asked the FBI how many shooting cases they handle involving federal agents, they would have said, ‘All of them.’ Yet that isn’t how it went in this case. Nothing was done by the rules.”

The results of the ballistics tests were reported in a letter written by Joseph J. J. Correa, a Criminalist IV with the Texas DPS El Paso Laboratory, March 18, 2005, and addressed to Brian D. Carter of DHS in El Paso.

The letter states Correa examined one fired copper-jacketed bullet presented to him by Carter on March 17, 2005. The letter identifies the victim shot by the bullet as “Osvaldo Aldrete.”

In the letter, Correa notes that he was asked to determine the manufacture of the firearm that fired the submitted bullet.

Correa could not positively identify Ramos’s weapon as the one that fired the submitted bullet. His report concludes:

The copper-jacketed bullet was fired from a barrel having six lands and grooves inclined to the right. The manufacturer of the firearm that fired the copper-jacketed bullet is unknown, but could include commonly encountered models of .40 S&W caliber FN/Browning, Beretta, Heckler & Koch, and Ruger pistols.

Correa’s report gives no indication the bullet submitted for analysis was disfigured or in fragments, despite having been supposedly extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s body after reportedly doing massive damage to his groin area and hitting bone.

“The problem was that the ballistics report did not match the bullet to Ramos’ gun,” Ramirez said. “The ballistics report said the bullet could have been fired by any one of four different makes of gun. So, the affidavit of complaint against Ramos and Compean made a statement that was not substantiated by the ballistics report. That is a big problem for the prosecution. Their evidence does not support their accusation.”

The arrest warrant issued for agent Ramos, a copy of which Ramirez also supplied WND, attests Ramos was charged with, “Intentionally assaulting a Mexican national, one O.A.D., resulting in serious bodily injury.” This conclusion is not supported by the ballistics letter written by Texas DPS specialist Correa.

WND has not investigated documents from the prosecutors which would establish the chain of evidence between the time the bullet was extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s groin and the time Carter of DHS presented it to Correa for analysis.

“How do we know that the prosecutors didn’t simply fire a round from Ramos’ gun into gel?” Ramirez asks. “That could explain the nearly pristine bullet the prosecutors presented for ballistics analysis.”

The failure of the prosecution ballistics reports to link the bullet with agent Ramos’ weapon directly challenges a claim made by Sutton to WND in an exclusive interview. In that interview, Sutton claimed that agent Ramos hit Aldrete-Davila:

WND: So, Compean shot 14 times and missed everybody, but Ramos shot one time and hit the drug dealer in the buttocks?

Sutton: That’s correct.

WND: Is Ramos that much better a shot than Compean?

Sutton: Ramos is a marksman.

WND has further learned the bullet was not extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s body until DHS special agent Christopher R. Sanchez brought him back from Mexico, at some unspecified time after the February 17, 2005 incident in which Aldrete-Davila was supposedly wounded by agent Ramos’ fire.

A doctor in Mexico had inserted a catheter to reverse the damage done to Aldrete-Davila’s urethra, but did not extract the bullet.

The bullet was extracted by a U.S. Army doctor, at government expense. According to the physician, the bullet entered Aldrete-Davila’s left buttock from the left side, traversed his groin, damaged the urethra, hitting bone in the process, and lodged in his right thigh. The bullet was extracted from Aldrete-Davila’s right groin and he received reconstructive surgery for the damage done to his groin and urethra and a catheter was reinserted.

WND has obtained the post-operative release form for the U.S. operation. That document specifies that Aldrete-Davila was released to the custody of DHS special agent Christopher Sanchez. WND has not been able to obtain evidence regarding where Sanchez took Aldrete-Davila next, or why.

The Army doctor’s description of the wound directly contradicts U.S. Attorney Sutton’s repeated claim that agents Ramos and Compean shot Aldrete-Davila in the back.

The doctor clearly stated that the wound he observed was consistent with Aldrete-Davila turning to assume a “bladed position” with his left arm extended back toward the officers. This corroborates agent Ramos and Compean’s claim they observed Aldrete-Davila turning back toward them while fleeing, extending his arm and holding an object in his hand that they took to be a weapon.

Aldrete-Davila is left-handed, consistent with the bullet entering his left buttock laterally as he fled and turned back toward the officers, possibly pointing a weapon at them.

“The doper after the surgery was transferred back to the personal custody of DHS special agent Sanchez,” Ramirez said. “So Christopher Sanchez has both the doper and the bullet. Aldrete-Davila was not transferred to a hotel, escorted by federal marshals. Aldrete-Davila wasn’t escorted from Mexico by the Mexican government. Everything involving Aldrete-Davila was left to the personal custody of Christopher Sanchez. Anything could have happened and who would know?”

WND is left to ask the following questions, which the Texas DPS ballistics analysis does not resolve:

  • How did Aldrete-Davila continue running far enough to cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico after he had been hit by a round that passed through his left buttock from the side and damaged his urethra before lodging in his right thigh?

  • How do we know that the bullet extracted from Aldrete-Davila could not have been fired into him during an unrelated incident in Mexico subsequent to Feb. 17, 2005, by a weapon among those of the type described in Correa’s report?

Conceivably, agents Ramos and Compean did not hit fleeing drug smuggler Aldrete-Davila on Feb. 17, 2005, despite firing multiple rounds at him.

“Johnny Sutton and his office have intentionally distorted and misrepresented the facts in this case,” Ramirez charged. “There’s something clearly wrong in the federal prosecutor’s office in El Paso. The Ramos and Compean case is a witch hunt. Every law enforcement agent on the border from Border Patrol agents to ICE agents to deputy sheriffs and sheriffs have gotten the message.”

What’s the message, WND asked?

“The message is simple,” Ramirez replied. “Enforce our drug laws aggressively on the border and you risk going to jail, not the drug dealers. We have a drug war going on along the Texas border and the U.S. government has backed off to the benefit of the drug lords.

Ramirez ended the interview with WND by noting: “After the Ramos and Compean case, no U.S. law enforcement officer on the border will ever again draw a weapon against a Mexican illegal transporting drugs without worrying that effort to enforce our laws may place him in jail, not the doper.”

On Aug. 17, 2006, Ramirez gave sworn testimony on the Ramos and Compean case to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, a copy of which is posted on his website.

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I have refrained from addressing the issue of former Los Angeles Fire Department fireman, Tennie Pierce and his racial discrimination lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles after having been fed dog food from fellow firemen a few years back.  Last month, the Pierce fiasco was all over local talk radio and television news, even making national news to a smaller degree.  Why have I not posted anything concerning Tennie and his two scoops of dog food ingestion?  I have no idea.  Normally, this story would be something I would have enjoyed discussing, but for some reason I simply didn’t get around to posting a single entry about the whole mess.   There’s no time like the present I suppose, and since the drama simply refuses to subside, I reason the time has come nigh for my input concerning the matter of Tennie Pierce vs. Los Angeles.

Basically, Tennie Pierce is an idiot.

It is truly inconceivable to me that an actual legitimate lawyer (hmm… is there really such a thing?), backed by an actual law firm would choose to represent a man such as Pierce for an incident as innocuous as what transpired two years ago–the dog food incident.

Anyway, who is Tennie Pierce?  If you aren’t already familiar with the man, Pierce is a black ex-Los Angeles fireman, having served in that capacity for nearly 20 years.  At one point in 2004, Pierce was subjected to a prank wherein his fellow firemen mixed dog food into a plate of spaghetti, presented it to Pierce who then proceeded to partake of the dish, swallowing two bites of the affected pasta before he realized his peers had pulled some sort of frivolity upon him, not because he could taste the dog food in the spaghetti, but simply because the other firemen were laughing hysterically at their frat house-style deception.

Pierce claimed he was subjected to racial discrimination due to the prank.  He secured the services of lawyer Genie Harrison (who is also currently representing several LAFD firewomen on discrimination charges–cases that appear to hold much more weight than the Pierce case) and marched forward in a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles.  Upon the horribly misguided advice of LA city attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Tennie Pierce was eventually awarded $2.7 million of LA taxpayer money by the city council in an overwhelming 11 to 1 ruling, with councilman Dennis Zine the only dissenting (and obviously sane) voice.  I don’t blame Zine for now requesting an outside legal team defend against the Pierce case–Delgadillo proved nothing but impotent.

Cue John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the Los Angeles based talk radio station KFI640.  Championing the taxpayers of Los Angeles, these two radio hosts, through various means, managed to bring to the fore telling evidence in the form of old photographs featuring Tennie Pierce engaging in various pranks upon other firemen that are flagrantly racist and shamelessly degrading.  However, in light of the new photos, the city council continued their hard-headed, out-of-touch-with-reality ways and protracted their original judgment awarding nearly three million dollars to a man who ate two spoonfuls of dog food.  With strengthened fury, John and Ken continued their rant against Pierce and the LA city council.  Publicity of the case became top evening news.

Pressure on the city council grew to titanic proportions until the intervention of Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa grew inescapable.  He could no longer ignore the cries of outrage from the public.  Late last month, Villaraigosa vetoed the city council’s original adjudication.  I’ve never been a fan of Villaraigosa, but I will give credit where credit is due:  This was a rare, smart decision.

Of course, Genie Harrison swore the repercussions of this choice would cost the city far more if the Pierce case were to go to trial.

Here are the basic no-brainers apropos to this case.

1.  Tennie Pierce had a nickname–“The Big Dog.”

2.  Pierce was fed the dog food as a prank from fellow firefighters who were annoyed by his chest-thumping arrogance during a department volleyball match in which Pierce was heard by many to shout, “feed the big dog” repeatedly throughout the game every time he scored a point, spiked the ball, or did anything worthy of celebration on his part.

3.   In firehouses throughout Los Angeles and the nation, frat house shenanigans play a modest part in relieving stress, rites of initiation, promotion, retirement, etc.  This is nothing new or shocking.  Personally, if acting like children helps maintain the sanity of firefighters around the country, who am I question their Neanderthal-like rites of passage.  As long as they put out fires, I’m happy.

4.  Under the circumstances, feeding dog food to Tennie Pierce was not racially motivated, nor was there any intent of racial discrimination on the part of the firemen who fed Pierce the dog food.  While not an innocent prank (because in all actuality, there’s no such thing), deeming it racist is idiocy.

5.  The surfacing of various photographs clearly depicting Pierce actively perpetrating and participating in numerous pranks against other firefighters are incontrovertibly racist and homophobic.  These photos are the central argument for the Villaraigosa veto.  Here are only a few of the photos

Prank: “Oy vey! I’m Gay!”  What the fuck?  And Pierce felt he had a right to bring a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city?  Of course, these photos came out after the lawsuit, but I’m sure he was hoping they would never surface.  Too bad for him. 

Tennie Pierce

In these pictures, Pierce can be seen assisting in holding a man down, grasping his genitals, and preparing to shave his naughty bits.  Ultimately, the prankee came out unscathed because it was just a PRANK!.

Also, the last picture depicts Pierce pouring water into another fireman’s mouth via a garden hose.  This looks to go beyond pranking.  It’s simply brutal water-boarding torture. 

continued from above…

Now however, it appears that Pierce lawyer, Genie Harrison is looking not to take the case to court as she so angrily threatened after the veto last month.  Instead, it looks as if she and Pierce realize that any meaningful award will not come from the court system.  With the above pictures, I can’t imagine a sensible jury anywhere bestowing any sort of meaningful reward in favor of Tennie Pierce.

Of course, there have been boneheaded verdicts in the past that have squarely followed race lines.  This I believe is not the case to champion.  Tennie Pierce deserves every ounce of ridicule, humiliation, and disdain he’s received from the public as a result of his case against the city of Los Angeles.   I do not want one penny of my tax money going to shady and despicable man looking for a quick and easy dollar by pulling the race card in a situation that was clearly not racially motivated.

Shame on Tennie Pierce and shame on Genie Harrison (may you never win another case throughout the remainder of your career.)

http://a.abclocal.go.com/images/kabc/cms_exf_2005/news/local/112106TenniePierce200.jpg

On a side note, and in reference to the bleeding-heart story further down the page courtesy of the LA Times, Tennie Pierce’s claims of time as a member of the Denver Broncos NFL team are quite spurious.  No one from the Broncos of years past remembers Pierce.  No records of him exist.  No one knows who the hell he is, and they deny he was ever signed to the team, let alone he ever played a pre-season game.

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Settlement talks reopen in bias case

L.A. officials are trying to strike a deal to close the debate over hazing of a firefighter whose lawsuit has prompted so much controversy.

By Jim Newton and Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writers
December 19, 2006

Los Angeles officials have reopened talks with the lawyer for former firefighter Tennie Pierce as the two sides seek to settle a racial discrimination case that has upended city politics in recent weeks.

Although officials would not discuss the matter on the record, one person close to the talks said they are trying to strike a deal that would end Pierce’s case against the city and close debate over his attempt to secure a $2.7-million payout.

Pierce, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, sued the city after colleagues in his station house fed him dog food mixed with spaghetti sauce and then allegedly taunted him for months after the incident.

Details of the new proposed settlement were being closely guarded, but sources familiar with the talks said both sides were attempting to craft an agreement that would structure any payment in a way that would make clear that much of the money to Pierce was to compensate for lost salary and pension benefits — and that his payout would cover his legal bills as well. One official said the deal also might involve setting aside a portion of the money for Fire Department reforms.

In settlement talks earlier this year, the city and Pierce’s attorneys discussed providing at least $1.3 million to buy out his pension plan at a rate as if Pierce was a 30-year employee, according to a transcript of a City Council closed session on the case from June 21. Pierce, at that time, was six months shy of serving 20 years.

Pierce, a tall and broad-shouldered African American, was fed dog food after a 2004 volleyball game in which he proclaimed himself the “Big Dog.”

In pursuing his lawsuit against the city, Pierce has argued that the incident and its aftermath were humiliating and made it impossible for him to stay with the department. Critics of the deal have cited Pierce’s “Big Dog” remark as evidence that the incident was intended as an innocent joke and not racially motivated, and have noted that Pierce himself admits to having engaged in pranks as a firefighter.

Nevertheless, in the weeks since the council first overwhelmingly approved the deal, it has sparked outrage on both sides, often with a clear racial subtext. In interviews, many African Americans have tended to side with Pierce, while many whites have been markedly less sympathetic.

Last month, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the original settlement amid a wave of public criticism and radio talk show jibes. The council then reversed itself and upheld Villaraigosa’s veto.

That could propel the Pierce case to trial, but the city’s interest in settling grows out of the sense, shared by many city officials, that a jury verdict could end up costing taxpayers more than a deal.

That conviction is based in part on a broader view of the case than the mere act of Pierce eating dog food. Last summer, professional mediator Joel Grossman considered the case and sanctioned the $2.7-million proposed settlement. According to a source familiar with that mediation, Grossman reached that conclusion in part because he believed that Pierce suffered long after the dog food incident.

That source said news of the prank quickly spread throughout the Fire Department, and firefighters across the city would tease Pierce wherever he went. Some called his home and left messages with barking sounds. Others would ask which he preferred, Alpo or Purina. Fire Department officials knew of the teasing but allowed it to continue, thus arguably making them complicit in a workplace environment that Pierce found increasingly hostile.

In a deposition, one top official in the Fire Department — whom the source described as a high-ranking African American — conceded that the harassment of Pierce appeared to him to be racially motivated. If the case goes to trial, that deposition could be used against the city and could incline a jury to punish the department and city with a large award. The mediator indicated to the lawyers in the case that that deposition weighed heavily on him in recommending the $2.7-million deal, the source said.

Although the source did not name that fire official, Millage Peaks, a battalion chief who is African American, was deposed in July. On Monday, Peaks declined to comment about his deposition, but he has in the past spoken out publicly about racism and harassment in the Fire Department.

Advocates of settling the case also stressed that the amount includes legal fees. If the case goes to trial and Pierce wins, he probably would be entitled to legal fees on top of whatever a jury might award him in damages. And since the case already has a long history — that would only grow more extensive given a trial — some estimate that Pierce’s legal bill could top $1 million.

At the same time, there are incentives for Pierce’s lawyers to negotiate. Pierce admitted to engaging in pranks himself, which could weaken his case in the eyes of a jury. And some jurors might not sympathize with giving a large sum over what the city could argue was a relatively trivial act of harassment.

Reached Monday, Grossman confirmed that he had mediated the deal, but declined to discuss it, saying he needed permission from the lawyers on both sides. The city attorney’s press office declined to comment on negotiations because the case was still being litigated.

Still, any proposed deal is likely to stir controversy again, and some council members are wary of supporting a large payout.

“The overwhelming majority of the public is clearly against the settlement,” said Councilman Dennis Zine. “At least in my office, all the calls and e-mails that we received said, ‘Councilman, you have the courage to stand up and do what’s right.’ “

Zine also said that he would be leery of any large settlement offer. “A million dollars is too much,” he said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, by contrast, voted to settle the case for $2.7 million and then voted later to override the mayor’s veto of that agreement.

On Monday, she said she did not have any firsthand knowledge of further talks in the case, although she said she had heard buzz around City Hall that negotiations were continuing.

She stressed that she would be open to any deal that “drives the city into stopping such patterns and practices of the city allowing and letting stand a hostile work environment.”

Perry said that if talks were ongoing, she wouldn’t expect to see another settlement in the neighborhood of $2.7 million. She said “it would be surprising if it was in the same ballpark” because objections by the mayor and some other council members were based on the amount.

http://heima.olivant.fo/~l_s_d/cliparts/cliparts/Firemen.jpg

(Here is a shameful, sob-story look at Pierce post-veto.  Leave it to the perpetually subscriber-sliding LA Times to write such abhorent drivel.)

For firefighter, sense of brotherhood shattered

SANDY BANKS, Times Staff Writer
December 14, 2006

Before he was Big Dog in the fire station, he was Big Fella because of his giant frame and Bigfoot because of his size 15 boots. Before there was the dog food in his spaghetti, there was the noose draped over his station locker and the white flour sprinkled in his bed.

And before Tennie Pierce became the Los Angeles Fire Department’s $2.7-million man — a symbol of racial discrimination to some and political correctness gone wrong to others — he was an ordinary firefighter, who had spent 17 years pledging allegiance to the department’s notion of brotherhood.

That allegiance began unraveling two years ago, when a firefighter at Pierce’s Westchester station mixed dog food into his dinner — a practical joke intended to “humble” him, the department’s investigative report said, for “declaring himself Big Dog” in a volleyball game.

Pierce sued the city for racial harassment last year, after enduring what he describes as months of taunts and retaliation. The City Council voted to settle his case for $2.7 million last month, but, after a public uproar, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the settlement.

Pierce’s claim and its repercussions — a respected fire department unmasked; a popular fire chief dispatched; a racially divided populace at odds — unhinged the city and unmoored the man.

“I didn’t expect it to go the way it went,” said Pierce, whose public claim and private life — from his work habits to the state of his marriage — provided weeks of fodder for talk radio programs. Hosts such as John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on KFI-AM (640) fielded dozens of calls from disgruntled white firefighters, who castigated Pierce for “playing the race card” and produced photos of him joining in the hazing of others.

The storm took Pierce by surprise. “I always felt I was part of a great brotherhood,” he said. “I know I have always been upright and fair. When I see how the masses turned on me….” He shrugs his giant shoulders and stares at the floor.

For some, he’s become a caricature — a big, strong, black man brought down by a couple of bites of dog food. But to his friends and family, the reality is considerably more complicated.

“The Fire Department was Tennie’s life,” said L.A. firefighter and friend Johnny Green. “He would much rather be at work than going through this foolishness.”

Pierce knows those photos of him standing over firefighters smeared with condiments and shaving cream made him a lightning rod for criticism. But the pranks weren’t done to hurt anyone, he said. “Basically, it’s a celebration of love. It’s your birthday, your last day at the station…. I’ve never heard a guy say, ‘Stop. Don’t do this to me.’ “

But Green said Pierce was one of relatively few black firefighters who participated in hazing rituals. “He assimilated with those guys” at his station, Green said. He went on ski trips with them, helped work on their houses, spent his days off with them riding Harleys.

“That’s why the betrayal he feels is so strong,” Green said. “He’s the O.J. of the Fire Department.”

*

Recognized by strangers

Pierce is 6 feet 5 and weighs more than 250 pounds, so it’s hard for him to hide. Strangers recognize him at the gym, at his daughter’s school. People he doesn’t know feel free to scold him.

“There are all those people out there casting stones,” he said. “Reporters standing on my porch, [confronting] my daughter coming home from school.”

His lawsuit has not only angered many whites but has also divided black firefighters and made Pierce a pariah among men who were his friends.

The black firefighters organization the Stentorians has refused to back his lawsuit. “Right case, wrong guy,” one black captain said. Because Pierce participated in hazing rituals, supporting Pierce would undercut the group’s official stance that “no member be subjected to any form of unprofessional behavior or practices in the workplace.”

The rift is hard for Pierce to bear, Green said. “He’s a teddy bear. Did he have fun and play games? Yeah. Hazing, condiments … that was all good-natured fun. Tennie did that real well.”

The dog food was another matter. There are three rules that every firefighter knows, Green and others say. “You don’t mess with people’s family, you don’t mess with their safety equipment, you don’t mess with their food,” Green said. “What they did to him crossed the line.”

Pierce has been off work now — relying on a combination of sick leave, disability, vacation and administrative leave — for more than a year, collecting a portion of his salary while he spends his days working out, visiting doctors and therapists, and helping out at his daughter’s track practices.

The enforced idleness has been hard on their marriage, his wife says. Pierce is often irritable and unable to sleep, ashamed that he must rely on his wife’s salary to support the family.

His case is headed for trial next year, though city officials could offer another settlement. But his career as a firefighter is over, he said.

Pierce denied rumors that he has been visiting other cities to look for a firefighting job. “I’m 51. My body is beat up,” he said. He wants to go back to college “and start my life over again.”

*

Football career envisioned

Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Pierce left Cal State Northridge five credits shy of graduation, he said, envisioning a pro football career. He said he was signed by the Denver Broncos but was injured during a preseason game in 1980 and never played during a regular season.

He married and had two children, then divorced and wound up with custody of his infant daughter and toddler son. He was working as a pipe fitter when a friend told him that the Los Angeles Fire Department — then under a consent decree mandating the hiring of minorities — had openings. He joined the department in 1987.

A year later, his daughter, then 5, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His older sister moved in with him to help care for the child, who was bedridden, had a tracheotomy tube in her throat and needed twice-daily trips from Inglewood to UCLA for treatment. She died in 1989, just after her sixth birthday. His son is now 26.

The next year, Pierce remarried, and the couple later adopted a 3-year-old girl. His wife watched him throw himself into his work; the demands of his new job seemed to help ease his grief, she said.

“It meant learning a new language and a new way of thinking, a whole different culture,” Pierce said.

Pranks and hazing were a part of that culture. In his first station assignment in the San Fernando Valley, Pierce got a taste, and made a choice.

“We were practicing knots,” he recalled, “and somebody laid a noose right in front of my locker.” He threw it in the trash without telling anybody.

“You want the job so bad, you don’t want to stir the pot,” Pierce said. “You go up there and tell the captain, then the captain calls everybody into the kitchen and now I’ve created a hostile work environment for myself.”

Nor did he complain later, when a buddy sprinkled flour in his bed, leaving his dark skin dusted white. “It wasn’t mean,” he said. “It was like that old saying, ‘Boys will be boys.’ “

“People criticize him [now] for complaining,” said his lawyer, Genie Harrison. “But Tennie’s got 17 years of doing nothing but laughing about the jokes that were played on him.”

Pierce said he was so shocked and ashamed when his station mates confessed that they had tricked him into eating dog food that he didn’t even tell his wife when he went home.

Then the calls from other black firefighters “started coming through on my home phone…. ‘Hey, Pierce, I heard what happened…. I’m glad it was you and not me, because if it happened to me, there’d be people in the hospital.’ That’s how my wife found out.”

The news traveled quickly through the department, he said. Firefighters began teasing him, calling him ‘dog food boy,’ barking like a dog when he walked by.

Pierce decided to sue, he said, only when the environment became unbearable. “I’ve been on this department for a long time. I’ve done everything they’ve ever asked me to do,” he said.

“All I asked for was three things: transfer me, do a thorough investigation, let me have some kind of psychological help to deal with this.”

He received got counseling and was transferred, but was later ordered back to the Westchester station.

And although the Fire Department’s records show that the battalion chief overseeing the Westchester station did, indeed, call for a full investigation, Deputy Chief Andrew Fox, who heads the department’s disciplinary division, rejected that recommendation. Instead, he relied on firefighters’ written statements to administer three suspensions ranging from six days to one month off without pay.

The fallout is still reverberating through the city’s fire stations. “There are 3,600 firefighters that love the Los Angeles Fire Department and want it to have a sterling reputation,” said Pat McOsker, former president of the firefighters union. “They are heartbroken that a handful of incidents are dragging us through the mud.

“The natural tendency is to be mad at those responsible: ‘Why couldn’t you just suffer this silently?’ ” he said. “I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s what happens.”

Green said Pierce is heartbroken too. “He really was the Big Dog … the biggest, blackest man in that station, with more seniority than any of them,” he said. “When they gave him that dog food, they were sending him a message: He would never be one of them.

“I’m sad for Tennie, that’s he’s got to go through this, change his phone numbers, move his kid’s school,” Green said. “But this case needs to go to court so people will see what it’s like for African Americans.”

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