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I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying we are all hypocrites in our own special ways. He’s a hypocrite. She’s a hypocrite. You’re a hypocrite, and I’m a hypocrite. We’re all grand dissemblers to one degree or another, and it becomes a constant struggle not just to simply abstain from hypocrisy altogether, but rather to conceive new machinations that we might better obfuscate and conceal our various hypocrisies from all the other hypocrites out there in order to dodge the inevitable cries of “hypocrite” directed against our persons.

For someone like me, the process of avoiding the aforementioned stigma of “hypocrite” is relatively simple, and for good reason–no one knows or cares about me or what I think, nor should they. I’m just a blogger marooned out here in the desolate wasteland of politically centered blogs of which there are legion covering the same subjects I discuss here and with greater reasoning ability, writing skills, and all around knowledge of whatever subject I happen to be raising my ire against on any particular day.

If you’re in the public eye however, religious figures (Ted Haggard, you naughty, naughty boy) and politicians (Mark Foley, you naughty, naughty boy) in particular, it is incumbent upon you to remain as hypocritically free as possible, particularly if you’re proselytizing on a particular hot-button topic such as affirmative action, gay marriage, defense contracting, or global warming for example. While there exists an inordinate amount of hypocrisy on both sides of the political aisle in Washington, exactly the place that should be bereft of any form of dissimulation particularly when it comes to serving political constituents, I am continually amazed at the magnitude of certain hypocrisies and those who flaunt them.

Nancy Pelosi, Al Franken, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore–these are only a few of the major self-aggrandizing, modern evangelists who do nothing but shout at the general populace, “live your lives the way we tell you” which would be all fine and good if they would at least practice what they preached (and if I agreed with their sermon.) Unfortunately, many of the concepts these ideologues are attempting to push off on the public are not practiced by those who exhort them most strongly–Pelosi has forsaken environmental regulations in favor of an elitist golf course; Franken champions affirmative action but fails to hire any significant amount of minorities on his staff; Chomsky demonizes the American military yet makes large amounts of cash from Pentagon defense contracts; Michael Moore says he’s never once played the stock market, despite the fact he owned stock in Halliburton. And of course we all know about the aforementioned hypocritical blunders of Foley and Haggard.

Now I’ve always liked Al Gore, and his people have attempted to explain away this latest debacle in his own personal hypocrisy, but the fact the ex-Vice President (and the should-have-been President) just won an Academy Award for the runaway success that is his documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, makes this particular hypocrisy that much more entertaining.

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Gore home’s energy use: 20 times average
Tennessee think tank presents former veep’s own ‘inconvenient truth’

Al Gore deserves an Oscar for hypocrisy to go along with the two Academy Awards his movie won last night, contends a think tank from his home state Tennessee. The former vice president’s mansion in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, says the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, citing data from the Nashville Electric Service.

Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth, a 95-minute film warning of a coming cataclysm due to man-made “global warming,” won the award for best documentary feature and best song.

“My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis,” Gore said after taking the stage. “It’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That’s a renewable resource. Let’s renew it.”

Standing with Gore on the stage last night, actor Leonardo DiCaprio said, to applause, “The American film industry has always taken its obligations to society very seriously and it’s now stepping up once again. Tonight, we’re proud to announce that for the first time in the history of the Oscars, this show has officially gone green.

Gore then followed with, “Which means that environmentally intelligent practices have been integrated fully into every aspect of the planning and production of these Academy Awards. And you know what: It is not as hard as you might think. We have a long way to go. But all of us can do something in our own lives to make a difference.”

But according to the Tennessee think tank, while the average American household consumed 10,656 kilowatt-hours last year, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 – more than 20 times the national average.

Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson said that “as the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use.”

Last August alone, according to Johnson’ group, Gore burned through 22,619 kilowatt-hours of electricity, more than twice the amount in one month that an average American family uses in an entire year.

Gore’s average monthly electric bill, the think tank says, is $1,359.

Since the release of Gore’s film, the former vice president and presidential candidate’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kilowatt-hours per month in 2005, to 18,400 per month in 2006.

The Tennessee group also points out natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

Gore paid a total of nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

Responding to critics, Gore has described the lifestyle he and his wife Tipper live as “carbon neutral,” meaning he tries to offset any energy usage, including plane flights and car trips, by “purchasing verifiable reductions in CO2 elsewhere.”

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POWER: GORE MANSION USES 20X AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD; CONSUMPTION INCREASE AFTER 'TRUTH'
Mon Feb 26 2007 17:16:14 ET

Nashville Electric Service/Gore House

2006

High 22619 kWh Aug – Sept
Low 12541 kWh Jan - Feb
Average: 18,414 kWh per month

2005

High 20532 Sept - October
Low 12955 Feb - March
Average: 16,200 kWh per month

Bill amounts

2006 – $895.60 (low) $1738.52 (high) $1359 (average)
2005 – $853.91 (low) $1461 (high)

Nashville Gas Company

Main House
2006 – $990(high) $170 (low) $536 (average)
2005 – $1080 (high) $200 (low) $640 (average)

Guest House/Pool House

2006 – $820 (high) $70 (low) $544 (average)
2005 – $1025 (high) $25 (low) $525 (average)

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization, issued a press release late Monday:

Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore’s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

For Further Information, Contact:
Nicole Williams, (615) 383-6431
editor@tennesseepolicy.org

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Gore Responds To Drudge’s Latest Hysterics

The right-wing is angry that Al Gore has won so much public attention and goodwill for his work on global warming. Determined to smear his efforts, Drudge writes in a screaming headline:

headline

Responding to Drudge’s attack, Vice President Gore’s office told ThinkProgress:

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.

It’s the latest in a series of desperate attacks by Drudge to paint Gore as a hypocrite. Some other examples:

gore4.JPG

headline

These are the lengths that climate skeptics must go to suppress action on global warming. There is no meaningful debate within the scientific community, so the right-wing busies itself with talk about how much electricity Al Gore’s house uses — and even then they distort the truth.

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If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one – if he had the power – would be justified in silencing mankind.
John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

While mostly arising from conservative circles, the multitude of concerns being expressed regarding the hyper-liberalization of colleges and universities seems to rise exponentially on a daily basis.

While I do believe the university should be an institution of free thought, encouraged via the professors and teaching staff, evidence abounds that anything other than politically correct authoritarianism is being discouraged and squelched with extreme prejudice by the very leaders of these institutions who are taxed with ensuring the minds of students remain open and flexible to many ideas and ideals whether those leaders agree with them or not. Pushing one’s own singular vendetta on impressionable minds, while not offering alternatives to one’s personal beliefs is deservingly ignominious.

A tenet such as (x+5)(x-3) = x2+2x-15 isn’t really debatable. It just is. But the free exchange of ideas is being threatened on the campus and in the classroom. According to recent study conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), more than 70 percent of universities and colleges ban protected First Amendment speech. Some go even further.

Michigan State University has been under fire for the creation of their Student Accountability in Community Seminar (SAC) program. SAC exhibits an overtly Orwellian approach to “unacceptable” speech and/or actions by forcing students who participate in such conduct into an “early intervention” or thought reform designed to strip them of their distasteful morals. Students can even have their university account frozen if they refuse to attend a required SAC seminar. Of course, what might be considered worthy of a timeout in the SAC chair is rather abstruse as presented by the MSU program. Needless to say, if it isn’t politically correct, it isn’t protected by the freedom of speech provision in the First Amendment. With SAC, Michigan State University has in essence, and without any reservation what-so-ever, entirely disregarded the First Amendment. This is a particularly heinous policy to support for any higher education institution in the United States.

The Gates of Vienna blog has posted a particularly potent and well-written piece concerning the subject of free speech in the west–on university campuses and in general. The writers’ intent to offend the reader is obvious. This does not in any way overshadow the importance of the message. In fact, the message is stronger in its timeliness because of the offense.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free to Say What?

by Baron Bodissey

We have freedom of speech in this country, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

We’re free to say anything we like, with notable exceptions carved out after 220 years of jurisprudence — direct incitement to violence and shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Free speech must be punishedAnd we are about to add another exception: “hate speech”. A generation of college students has come to maturity under a regime in which free speech most emphatically does not include the right to say anything that might be construed as hateful towards minorities, women, gays, disabled people, animals, trees, etc.

These students are in the revolutionary vanguard of the softened-up, so that by the time Congress slips through a law that actually criminalizes “hate speech”, the constant repetition of the mantra “hate speech is not free speech” will have taken its toll. Everybody will already be used to the idea, will accept it as a given, and, after the required Supreme Court decision, the new, leaner version of the First Amendment will become the law of the land.

If you think I’m being paranoid or overreacting, then you haven’t seen Rep. John Conyers’ proposed kid-gloves-for-the-Koran resolution, H. Res. 288 (the full text is here):

Resolved, That the House of Representatives —

1.   condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
2.   declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
3.   recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
4.   calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.

This is pernicious on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start. It asserts that one person’s right to be respected overrides another person’s right to speak freely. It singles out a single religion, Islam, for special treatment. It accords the holy book of the Muslims more respect than is owed the flag of the United States.

This is a CAIR-sponsored Trojan horse, ready to be rolled through the gates into the First Amendment. And its sponsor is about to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When I defend the right to free speech, what am I defending?

The Founders weren’t thinking about the right to print gay porn. When they crafted the First Amendment, they most emphatically intended to protect political speech. A lot of what passed for political speech in those days was insulting, libelous, vicious, and mendacious, but the framers of the Constitution were determined to leave it unrestrained.

But what about today? What words are so dangerous, so foul, so beyond the pale, that the force of law is required to protect them?
– – – – – – – – – –
The example I am about to give is so offensive that I will be in hot water for posting it here, even though I don’t subscribe to it myself, even though I find its appalling and repugnant, even though I would not willingly share the room with someone who uttered it. The amount of trouble I bring down upon myself will illustrate my point.

I’m displaying it here as an image, so as not to be indexed for the obnoxious phrase by the search engines:

READ FURTHER…

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Also, here’s more information on SAC at Michigan State University.

Michigan State University Engaged in Thought Reform

December 14, 2006

FIRE Press Release

EAST LANSING, Mich., December 14, 2006—It may be almost 2007, but it feels more like “1984” at Michigan State University. The university’s Student Accountability in Community Seminar (SAC) forces students whose speech or behavior is deemed unacceptable to undergo ideological reeducation at their own expense. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging Michigan State to dismantle this unconstitutional program, which presents a profound threat to both freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

“Michigan State’s SAC program is simply one of the most invasive attempts at reeducation that FIRE has ever seen, yet it has been allowed to exist at the university for years,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “As bad as it is to tell citizens in a free society what they can’t say, it is even worse to tell them what they must say. Michigan State’s program is an immoral and unconstitutional program of compelled speech, blatant thought reform, and pseudo-psychology.”

According to the program’s materials, SAC is an “early intervention” for students who use such “power-and-control tactics” as “male/white privilege” and “obfuscation,” which the university cryptically defines as “any action of obscuring, concealing, or changing people’s perceptions that result in your advantage and/or another’s disadvantage.” Students can be required to attend SAC if they demonstrate what a judicial administrator arbitrarily deems aggressive behavior, past examples of which have included slamming a door during an argument or playing a practical joke. Students can also be required to attend SAC for engaging in various types of constitutionally protected speech, including “insulting instructors” or “making sexist, homophobic, or racist remarks at a meeting.” When participation in SAC is required, “non-compliance typically results in a hold being placed on the student’s account,” an action that leaves the student unable to register for classes and thus effectively expelled from the university. Students are required to pay the cost of the SAC sessions.

Once in the program, students are instructed to answer a series of written questionnaires. In their answers, students must specifically describe how they are taking “full responsibility” for their offensive behavior and must do so using language that the director of the session deems acceptable. Most students will be asked to fill out this questionnaire multiple times, slowly inching closer to what administrators deem to be “correct” responses.

In a letter on November 20, 2006 to Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon, FIRE pointed out the stark contradiction between the SAC program and the values of a free society: “[A]t the heart of all concepts relating to freedom of the mind is a recognition of our own limitations—like us, those in power are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and therefore have no right to dictate to others what their deepest personal beliefs must be. Concern for free speech and freedom of conscience is rooted in the wisdom of humility and restraint. The SAC program, which presumes to show students the specific ideological assumptions they need to be better people, crosses the boundary from punishment into invasive and immoral thought reform. We can think of no way in which the SAC program can be maintained consistent with the ideals of a free society.”

FIRE’s letter to President Simon also underscored Michigan State’s legal obligation to abide by the First Amendment. FIRE reminded her of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), a case decided in the midst of World War II that remains the law of the land. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the Court, declared, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Michigan State has informed FIRE that it will be reviewing the SAC program, but FIRE is calling for nothing less than its total dismantling.

“Michigan State’s SAC program shows a breathtaking lack of respect for individual dignity and autonomy. I urge anyone who cares about the rights of students and the sanctity of private conscience to take a long, hard look at the SAC program’s materials,” Lukianoff said.

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process rights, freedom of expression, and rights of conscience on our campuses. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at Michigan State University and elsewhere can be seen by visiting www.thefire.org.

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