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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 29, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A — Herald-Zeitung — Thursday, December 29, 2005 FORUM Our Opinion Time to be bold on energy policy President Bush would show great leadership by proposing to lead this country in weening it off crude oil dependency. Ii ’n a few weeks, President Bush will walk onto Capitol .1 till and for the sixth time present his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Though the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the domestic wiretapping controversy dominate the current headlines, Bush will have the perfect opportunity to change the conversation in this country by being bold. It’s time for Bush, the former Texas oilman, to lead the charge toward moving this country away from crude oil and toward energy independence. A serious discussion within this country about our dependence on oil and how it is affecting our dealings in the world, our security, our economy and our daily lives is long overdue, and it seems Americans are beginning to realize that. Polls consistently show that Americans believe their country' is too dependent on foreign energy sources, and the rising costs of crude oil and natural gas have been a thorn in Bush's political side all year. Americans are ready to be led toward better conservation of current fuels and the development of better, renewable ones. By taking the lead on energy independence, Bush will project himself as a problem-solver and give himself the opportunity to have Americans rally to his cause. All domestic energy' options should be on the table, though the president also should stop thinking that “energy independence” is spelled ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, under which are oil reserves that experts say will not substantially mitigate the continuing need for oil imports into this country). Biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel made from renewable resources that can be used in all diesel engines. Tax incentives already are available for biodiesel, but more are needed, as is more investment into this promising fuel source. The Bush administration has dedicated $1.2 billion over five years toward developing hydrogen-powered cars, which only emit water vapor. Let’s invest more into this promising technology and set an ambitious deadline for having hydrogen-powered cars in showrooms in IO to 20 years. Tons upon tons of pollutants would be eliminated from our air if our trucks and sedans didn’t mn on fossil fuel. And since we ll be filling our tanks with gas for the time being, we should at least be using less of it. Automakers should be required to promptly increase fuel efficiency in vehicles, and we should further encourage the production of gas-electric hybrid cars. Detroit might groan about the costs, but U.S. automakers need only look at the waiting lists for hybrids at dealerships to see that Americans want more fuel-efficient vehicles. Every possible option should be researched thoroughly, and its likely we citizens will have to make a few sacrifices. As long as they are part of a forward-thinking plan with clearly defined goals and firm deadlines toward attaining those goals, that’s more than acceptable. On May 25,1961, President Kennedy set a lofty objective for America — putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade. It was a staggering proposal that in today’s dollars would have cost billions upon billions to achieve. On July 20,1969, the ambitious goal that many thought was unattainable was achieved when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and took his “giant leap for mankind." In Kennedy’s 1961 speech that put forth his moon-shot proposal, the president uttered the following words, which ring true today when it comes to America striving to reach energy independence: “I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.” This country was founded by people who didn’t shy away from arduous tasks in which the odds were long. Whether it was founding a democracy, building the most productive economy or putting a man on the moon, Americans have time and again met the challenge and met it to the betterment of ourselves and this world. Energy independence wouldn’t just be another in a line of great achievements — it would be the greatest accomplishment in this country’s history. We can do this, Mr. President, and we need you to lead the way. LETTERS POLICY ■ Letters must be 250 words or less. ■The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. ■ Guest columns should be 500 words or less and must be accompanied by a photo. ■ Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Herald-Zeitung Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958. Managing Editor Jeremy Pafford Editor and Publisher Doug Toney Circulation Director Jeff Fowler Advertising Director Neice Bell Business Manager Valerie Shields News Editor David Rupkalvis GUESTCOLUMN Don’t discredit the servicemen I am a World War II veteran. If you don’t remember WW1I, that’s the war when America had the intestinal fortitude to stay the course to win the war. Thank God we had no I loward Deans, John Kerrys and their ilk to discredit our servicemen. If we had, Franklin Roosevelt, a Democratic president, would surely have had them face a firing squad for treason. If we had the same attitude then when 10,000 died on Iwo lima and 40,000 on Omaha Beach, we would be speaking German or Japanese today. And how about Ms. Cindy Sheehan? While pretending to mourn her sons death, she has promoted herself, appearing on TV and has become a paid performer (speaker). She is an embarrassment to all the other Gold Star mothers of this war and all the wars of the past. It is not only the Benedict Arnolds in Washington that we need to fear, but the garbage dumped into homes all over America daily by ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN news talking heads. With these talking heads in the garbage, let’s throw in Jay Leno, David Letterman and others such as them who daily denigrate our country’s leaders thinking they are being humorous. I grew up with Bob I lope, Jack Benny, Red Skel ton, etc., who were truly entertaining and humorous. None of them, Leno, Letterman, etc., have a clue. They are as entertaining as a broken leg. If we were able to populate Mars, I would hope the first "pioneers” would include I loward Dean: John Kerry: Michael Moore; George Soros; the talking heads on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBG news; and to give them female companionship include Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Cindy Sheehan. As I said at the outset, I am a WW!I veteran, and I have a son currently serving in Afghanistan who says we are in the right war, at the right time, in the right place. I Ie feels we should stay the course and finish the task at hand. May God bless and protect our men and women in harm’s way and bring diem home safe and victorious. RUDYREIMER Rudy Reimer is a resident of New Braunfels. NOW TD CONTACT liJllM United States Government PRESIDENT ■ George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through. Web site.)_ ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate-Hart Room 517 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2184 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) NOW IO CONTACT Texas    ■ Government minimum GOVERNOR ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Carter Casteel 254 E. Mill St. New Braunfels 78130 Telephone: (830) 627-0215 E-mail address: ca rte r. ca steel @ STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: (512) 463-0125 E-mail address: jeff. Wentworth® ■ Judith Zaffirini RO. Box 627 Laredo 78042-0627 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 12702Toepperwein Road #214 San Antonio 78233 Telephone: (210) 657-0095 Fax: (210) 657-0262 Domestic espionage puts republic in danger Mail letters to: Letters to Editor do Herald-Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax them to: (830) 606-3413 e-mail them to: news@herald- AUSTIN — The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Thirty-five years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was crazy as a bullbat, and J. Edgar Hoover, who wore women’s underwear, decided some Americans tis*, had unacceptable political opinions. So they set our government to spying on its own citizens, basically those who were deemed insufficiently like Crazy Richard Milhous. For those of you who have forgotten just what a stonewall paranoid Nixon was, the poor man used to stalk around the White I louse demanding that his political enemies be killed. Many still believe there was a certain Richard III grandeur to Nixon’s collapse because he was also a man of notable talents. There is neither grandeur nor tragedy in watching this president, the Testy Kid, violate his oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of our country. The Testy Kid wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it because he is the president, and he considers that sufficient justification for whatever he wants. I Ie even finds lawyers like John Yoo, who tell him that whatever he wants to do is legal. The creepy part is the overlap. Damned if they aren’t still here, after all these years, the old Nixon hands — Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the whole gang whose yearning for authoritarian government rose like a stink over the Nixon years. Imperial executive. Bring back those special White House guard uniforms. Cheney, like some malignancy MOLLYIVINS Molly Ivin is a columnist for Creators Syndicate. She abo does occasional commentary for National Public Radio and the McNeil/Lehrer program. that cannot be killed off, back at the same old stand, pushing the same old crap. Of course, they tell us we have to be spied on for our own safety, so they can catch the terrorists who threaten us all. Thirty-five years ago, they nabbed a film star named Jean Seberg and a bunch of people running a free breakfast program for poor kids in Chicago. This time, they’re onto the Quakers. We are not safer. We would be safer, as the 9/11 commission has so recently reminded us, if some obvious and necessary precautions were taken at both nuclear and chemical plants — but that is not happening because those industries contribute to Republican candidates. Republicans do not ask their contributors to spend a lot of money on obvious and necessary steps to protect public safety. They wiretap, instead. You will be unsurprised to learn that, first, they lied. They didn’t do it. Well, OK, they did it, but not very much at all. Well, OK, more than that. A lot more than that. OK, millions of private e-mail and telephone calls every hour, and all medical and financial records. You may recall in 2002 it was revealed that the Pentagon had started a giant data-mining program called Total Information Awareness (TLA), intended to search through vast databases “to increase information coverage by an order of magnitude.” From credit cards to vet reports, Big Brother would be watching us. This dandy program was under the control of Adm. John Poindexter, convicted of five felonies during Iran-Contra, all overturned on a technicality. This administration really knows where to go for good help — it ought to bring back Brownie. Everybody decided that TIA was a terrible idea, and the program was theoretically shut down. As often happens with this administration, it turned out they just changed the name and made the program less visible. Data-mining was a popular buzzword at the time, and the administration was obviously hot to have it. Bush established a secret program under which the National Security Agency could bypass the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court and begin eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. As many have patiently pointed out, the entire program was unnecessary, since the PISA court is both prompt and accommodating. There is virtually no possible scenario that would make it difficult or impossible to get a FISA warrant — it has granted 19,000 warrants and rejected only a handful. I don’t like to play scary games where we all stay awake late at night, telling each other scary stories — but there’s a reason we have never given our government this kind of power. As the late Sen. Frank Church said, “That capability could at any time be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capacity to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.” And if a dictator took over, the NSA “could enable it to impose total tyranny.” Then we always get that dreadful goody-two-shoes response, “Well, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about, do you?” Folks, we KNOW this program is being and will be misused. We know it from the past record and current reporting. The program has already targeted vegans and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — and, boy, if those aren’t outposts of al-Qaida, what is? Could this be more pathetic? This could scarcely be clearer. Either the president of the United States is going to have to understand and admit he has done something very wrong, or he will have to be impeached. The first time this happened, the institutional response was magnificent. The courts, the press, the Congress all functioned superbly. Anyone think we’re up to that again? Then whom do we blame when we lose the republic? ;