Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review explain how a new poll showing many more people directly hurt than helped by Obamacare could impact the midterm elections. They also explore the many options President Obama could have used to inflict economic or diplomatic pain on Russia – but didn’t. Finally, they refute Sally Kohn’s claims that conservatives’ criticism of Obama’s response to Russia makes them pro-Putin.
Archives for March 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook made worldwide headlines last week by blasting a questioner at a company shareholder meeting and insisting that his company will continue investing huge sums of money in green technologies whether it improves the bottom line or not.
“If you want me to do things only for (return on investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock,” said an angry Cook.
Now the man who asked the questions says Cook lashed out at him because it’s obvious the company would be losing hundreds of millions of dollars with their green projects if taxpayer-funded subsidies weren’t defraying much of the cost and because Cook knows the projects are not going to create profits for Apple or its shareholders.
The confrontation took place Friday at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting. In the question and answer session, Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research confronted Cook about the huge amount of money spent in the company’s quest to derive 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
“I asked him a very basic business question that any investor or any shareholder of Apple would want to know. When you engage in environmentalism…is there a reasonable return on investment? Are you spending more than you’re saving? Cook first answered by saying, ‘I think that it makes economic sense, but even if it didn’t, we would still spend to our heart’s content all of your shareholder money on battling this terrible concept of CO2 emissions,'” said Danhof.
Danhof then asked Cook what the company policy would be if the federal government were not footing the bill for much of their green energy programs through taxpayer-funded subsidies. That’s when Cook made headlines.
“That’s where he went off the rails. Cook refused to answer the question and he looked directly at me and said, ‘I don’t care what you think. We’re going to continue to cure blindness.’ What does one have to do with the other? Obviously, Cooke was deflecting the issue because, while the company may be engaging in a lot of environmental efforts, the answer is they’re engaging so where they can make a profit off the American taxpayer. We’re the ones, John and Jane Q. Taxpayer, that are subsidizing all these solar plants that Apple is putting up in North Carolina and Arizona and California and elsewhere. That’s the real heart of it,” said Danhof.
That’s when Cook loudly scolded Danhof and suggested that he and anyone else not supportive of Apple’s green energy efforts were free to sell their shares.
“I’ve been attending shareholder meetings for the last five or six years, dozens of them, and I’ve never had a CEO react and act the way that Tim Cook did at Friday’s Apple shareholder meeting,” said Danhof.
Cook is widely known for his calm demeanor, so what triggered his passionate response rather than a simple explanation that Apple’s priorities were not the same as Danhof’s?
“The company wants to tell it’s progressive investors who care about this chimera battle of reducing CO2 emissions that they’re the leading company in the world to do so. In reality, they’re only doing so because they’re ripping off taxpayers. So I caught him this dualism, this hypocrisy and he was really stuck at that point,” said Danhof.
“So he attacked his own investors. He really came untoward. I was embarrassed for him,” said Danoff.
While Danoff says he can sympathize with Cook being exposed in front of shareholders, he has fewer warm words for former Vice President Al Gore and his response to the exchange.
“I would have been embarassed for Al Gore if Al Gore could still be embarrassed at this point, because he stood up like a three-year-old child and loudly clapped and cheered in my face when Cook gave that reaction. Al Gore is beyond contempt at this point so I won’t even be embarrassed for him,” said Danoff.
Danhof says the hypocrisy of Apple is evident in multiple ways, both in its activities at these green energy facilities and in its everyday products.
He cited a massive geothermal plant in Maiden, North Carolina, built largely through taxpayer funds. It will eventually power Apple’s local operations, but while those facilities are built, Apple is selling its excess energy back to the taxpayers of North Carolina who helped pay for the construction through their tax dollars in the first place. He says the cost of Apple’s green energy projects is easily in the hundreds of millions and possibly even billions of dollars.
In addition, Danhof says Apple’s own conduct shows it’s not nearly as environmentally conscious as it would have us believe.
“You may want to actually take a deeper look into what Cook’s response really means. If Apple was sustainable, they wouldn’t glue their batteries into their iPhones so when your battery dies you need a new iPhone. If your battery dies on any other phone, you just get a new battery. On an iPhone, you’ve got to chuck it away and buy a whole brand new one. What’s sustainable about that? Absolutely nothing,” said Danhof.
In addition to asserting Cook got caught in his hypocrisy, Danhof believes another factor is at play as climate change advocates find it harder and harder to convince Americans that the planet’s future is in peril unless major, costly steps are taken.
He notes that over the past few election cycles, concern over climate change has dropped from being one of the five biggest issues for voters to barely cracking the the top 20 issues that motivate people at the polls.
“For 17 years, we’ve been told the world is going to warm and for 17 years they’ve cried wolf. We have a world (temperature) that’s staying flat if not cooling. I think that those who are really devotees of the climate change line are starting to run scared. They’re starting to become more emotional and less rational because the science is no longer backing up their wild claims,” said Danhof.
Virginia is the latest battleground in the debate over religious homeschooling and the educational rights of parents and children.
Homeschoolers are spreading like wildfire across the country, but they aren’t allowed to do whatever they wish. Each state has its own rules for what is required to homeschool. Most require some form of report and testing to keep the parents in check.
Virginia has the most unique statutes in the country. Its Constitution allows parents to homeschool their children without reporting to their school board. If allowed, they can teach their children under the Religious Exemption clause, which permits students to be excused from public school if it is done because of religious beliefs.
This method frees thousands of Virginia parents to teach their children according to their religious convictions. It also helps establish what Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff describes as a “Wall of separation”.
“This wall of separation, on the one hand, protects government sponsored schools from having religion come in and influence and control them. On the other hand, it protects religious education from the government coming in and issuing mandates” said Woodruff.
But is this healthy for students?
A recent bill sought to address this in the Virginia House of Delegates. Delegates Tom Rust and Vivian E. Watts sponsored the bill in hopes of finding more information on those who are studying under the Religious Exemption statute.
“It is in no way an effort to overturn the religious exemption…. I do think we have a responsibility to make sure that young people are getting an adequate education to prepare them for adulthood” said Delegate Rust.
The bill proposed that Virginia’s education department study how individual school districts evaluate applications for the Religious Exemption, as well as confirm whether the district is checking in with parents and reviewing their case. Once this information was gathered, it would be analyzed by the Department of Education, and suggestions would be made to amend the clause, so that students are receiving the best possible education.
While the bill failed in committee, the questions it asked were hotly debated by those fighting for stronger homeschool regulations as well as by those who are for lessening the restrictions.
Those opposing the bill, including the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, believe that the bill provided no new answers.
“The overt purpose [of the bill] is to ask five questions, but we know this to be illegitimate because we already know the answers to the questions” says Woodruff.
Also known as the HSLDA, the Homeschool Legal Defense Assocation also argues that the study would covertly pave the way towards limiting parental rights. The HSLDA worries about these potential limitations, for it believes that “The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.”
Others, like the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, argues that the data is needed since there are no other sources.
“There’s a lot of unknowns in this [study] and we have not even filed these up with these homeschool students who have graduated…...there’s a lot we don’t know” said CHRE’s Executive director Heather Doney.
The CRHE was founded off of a belief that “Homeschooling laws….is seriously lacking in protections for the rights of children and youth.” Because of this, it avidly supports developing policies and regulations which protect kids from abuse and make it possible for them to get the best possible education.
The recent legislation in Virginia was designed to determine how homeschool students studying under the religious exemption are doing. But the debate shows that parents, legislators, and students are divided over the pivotal question of who comes first legally, the parent or the child.