What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 19, 2011

Mystery of The Missing Altmire Op-Ed SOLVED

This is gonna give you a chuckle. I promise.

This morning I wrote about this complaint found on the Op-Ed page of the Tribune-Review regarding a pair of opinion pieces written (one each) by Congressman Mike Doyle and Congressman Jason Altmire. Scaife's braintrust complained that the two were too similar. I wanted to (as I often do) check their work. Usually, when I check their work I find they've spun a few things - and I can only assume they do that hoping no one will check. But this time, I couldn't.

Why not?

As I wrote this morning, I could easily find Doyle's opinion piece (it's here), but I could not find Altmire's.

So I contacted his office today asked them about it. Where was the Congressman's opinion piece about the CFL lightbulbs? I couldn't find it anywhere, I told them. Is there anyway I could see a copy? I further asked.

They sent me the piece (see below) and told me that while they submitted it to The Trib and then The Trib rejected it for publication.

So before we get on with the piece itself, let's mull this over for a second. Altmire's opinion piece is submitted to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for publication. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review rejects said opinion piece and then criticizes it in print sometime later. They're the only ones who have access to it and so they're the only ones who can assess whether it is, in fact, similar to the other opinion piece they claim it resembles. In short they're the only ones who could know whether they're telling the truth.

Until now, that is.

Remember, this is the braintrust's complaint about the two pieces:
The congressmen's offerings are so similar -- nearly word for word in spots -- that it has us highly suspicious that the two men regurgitated Democrat talking points for their op-ed submissions.
The two opinion pieces do cover similar ground - as well they should. They are talking about the same thing.

Both point out similar facts:
  • Old style incandescent light bulbs waste 90% of their energy generating heat
  • George Bush signed the original law in 2007
  • New style incandescent light bulbs have been designed that meet the 2007 standard
  • And so there is no "ban" on incandescent light bulbs - just inefficient ones
  • Thomas Edison invented the light bulb
Altmire's op-ed is posted below, by the way. Do something the Trib doesn't want you to do - read it for yourself. Check my work.

Can someone show me the "nearly word for word in spots" similarities the braintrust is complaining about? Where are they? Apart from the obvious and banal congruencies ("Thomas Edison", "incandescent light bulb" and so on) I couldn't find any "nearly word for word" matches. Can you?

Think of it this way, if the two pieces were, in fact, so close that they ended each other's sentences, doncha think The Trib would be pointing them out to you sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase? They didn't. They couldn't. They're spinning this. Badly.

Anyway, here's Altmire's opinion piece the Trib (the one The Trib rejected then criticized in public):
When Thomas Edison first successfully tested a carbonized thread light bulb in 1879, it was a technology so revolutionary that the light bulb became the very symbol of innovation. Today, 132 years later, the image of a light bulb is still routinely used as an illustration of American ingenuity and scientific breakthrough. The technology that Edison pioneered, the incandescent light bulb, remains by far the most popular source of light in American households.

It is therefore not surprising that reports of a ban of the incandescent light bulb have caused a political firestorm and a public outcry. There have even been reports of organized efforts to hoard the remaining supply of the incandescent bulbs before the ban takes effect at the end of this year.

The topic has become especially popular on the political circuit, with members of Congress and presidential candidates making the “light bulb ban” part of their standard stump speech.

Adding to the public outrage is the fact that, as a result of the reported ban, consumers would be required to purchase and use expensive compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), some of which contain mercury and emit a lesser quality of light than standard incandescent bulbs.

The story goes that the government has banned the inexpensive bulbs produced by American companies and enjoyed by consumers for more than a century, and will now force consumers to use much more expensive, less illuminating lights that pose a significant health hazard, the compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). No wonder politicians are climbing all over themselves to defend the incandescent light bulb.

There is only one problem – none of it is true. The incandescent light bulb is not banned, nor will it be next year or thereafter. Consumers will continue to be free to buy the light bulb of their choice. American companies will continue to manufacture and market incandescent bulbs available to every American.

So, why the misconception about the so-called “ban”?

In 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act. One of the provisions of this bipartisan legislation was to establish energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. This was done primarily to reduce the strain and prevent overloads on our nation’s electrical grid, and to make energy more efficient, dependable and cost-effective for consumers.

Under the 2007 law, some household light bulbs are required to be approximately 28 percent more energy efficient. For the most commonly-used light bulbs, the phase-in occurs over a three-year period beginning in 2012. For example, by next year, a 100 watt incandescent bulb must emit the same amount of light using only 72 watts. The law does not specify what type of technology manufacturers may employ to achieve these standards, nor does it require consumers to purchase any specific type of light bulb.

Incandescent bulbs produce light by heating filament inside gas. This is nearly identical to the technology that existed in the initial Edison-inspired bulbs first made commercially available in the 19th century. These bulbs remain popular, but they are incredibly inefficient as a source of light. In fact, ninety percent of the energy produced by a standard incandescent bulb goes toward heat – only ten percent produces light. Of course, few consumers buy a household light bulb to use as a source of heat, so it makes sense that we should look for ways to make the bulbs more energy efficient than the bulbs Edison pioneered 132 years ago.

Some light bulb manufacturers have chosen to supplement their incandescent bulbs with other technologies, such as the CFL or the increasingly popular and potentially revolutionary light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Both technologies continue to evolve and will undoubtedly play a major role in America’s energy future, as will other technologies yet to be discovered. But what about the incandescent bulb?

As a result of the 2007 law, several large and small American companies, some of which have put down roots in western Pennsylvania, have developed energy efficient incandescent light bulbs that meet the new standards. Some of the new incandescent bulbs are already on the market, and many others will be available in time for the 2012 transition. These new bulbs have the same look and emit the same type of light as traditional incandescent bulbs, but they last much longer, offer substantial energy savings for the consumer and greatly reduce the burden to our nation’s electrical grid. So not only is the incandescent light bulb not banned, it has been improved and is now better than ever. Most important, it will still be made by American workers, for American consumers, for years to come.

Throughout our history, Americans have always risen to the challenges of the ever-changing global marketplace. Recently, American auto makers innovated and adapted to new fuel efficiency standards by producing fuel efficient cars that appeal to American consumers, resulting in General Motors surpassing Toyota this year as the world’s largest automaker.

Similarly, the quick transition to meet the new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs is yet another example of American ingenuity and innovation at its best. Without a doubt, others around the world are also researching and producing advanced light bulbs to compete with our American-made products. Just as Thomas Edison put America at the forefront of the development and manufacture of lighting technology in 1879, the American innovators of today continue to lead the way in the research and development of exciting new lighting technologies, like LEDs, as well as improving upon the popular technologies of the past, like the still-available incandescent light bulb.

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