masthead-highres

Thursday, July 31, 2003

An Irony

An irony of the drug reimportation debate:

Proponents of drug reimportation often say they are merely trying to make prescription drugs more affordable for American seniors, but the pro-drug reimportation stance of the House is so strongly opposed by the Senate that the provision is a major (though, to be fair, not the sole) complicating factor working against passage of a Medicare prescription drug benefit this year.

In related news, Ed Haislmaier's work exposing the dangers of drug reimportation continues apace, with the Houston Chronicle and Charlotte Observer, among others, running his thoughts on their op-ed pages.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:34 PM

PBS & Rockefeller: Presence of Hispanic Laborers Might Inconvenience NewsHour Guests

Our E.D. David Almasi spots a case of limousine liberalism:
NIMBY stands for Not-In-My-Back-Yard, a typical suburban opposition to new development or change to the surroundings. In suburban DC, the local PBS affiliate is engaging in a bit of NIMBYism related to immigration rights, something it would normally support (to the extent that taxpayer-funded public television engages in advocacy - wink, wink).

PBS programs such as Washington Week, Frontline and the NewsHour are quick to take the Bush Administration to task on issues such as granting more rights to undocumented aliens and more stringent post-9/11 standards on Middle Eastern travelers, but God forbid people gather next door to the PBS studios in the hope of finding a job!

This is posted on the DCRTV web site, a gossip site dedicated to the local
DC media:
"WETA Frowns On Plan For Day Laborer Facility (7/31)" - The Northern Virginia Journal reports that WETA is not too happy about Arlington County's plan to build a $100,000-plus pavilion for day laborers adjacent to the public TV/FMer's Shirlington office and studio complex. Recently testifying before the county board, WETA CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller predicted a "pretty hostile environment" for Channel 26 and FM 90.9 employees who could be accosted by day laborers (mainly immigrant Hispanic men waiting for work) while walking from one building to another. According to the Journal, Rockefeller added that putting the facility near WETA's south Arlington complex would also inconvenience high-profile guests who arrive to be interviewed on the "NewsHour," which is produced by WETA for PBS..."
WETA has a long-running "Hometown Heroes" segment that it runs throughout its broadcast day. Here are a few past heroes it might want to consult to increase "sensitivity":

Sonia Gutierrez (11/02): provides adult education to immigrants
Tuyet Bach Tran (3/02): advocate for Vietnamese immigrants
Beatriz Otero (6/02): founder of the Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center
Pilar Laugel (1/99): now-retired teacher who specialized in helping Immigrants

Doesn't this take the cake.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:17 PM

Burning the Fuel in Order to Save It

Chris Burger of The National Center's John P. McGovern MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs has some questions about the Sierra Club in this note:
Last summer, the Sierra Club -- typically a group that is vehemently opposed to logging in America's national forests -- not only refused to condemn, but actually supported a logging project proposed by then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest (see a piece) I wrote about this last year). This summer, to promote alternative sources of energy, the Sierra Club is teaming up with rock music groups that are consuming thousands of gallons of gasoline on transportation.

Lollapalooza is a nationwide rock festival touring the nation between July 5 and August 24. The Sierra Club is working in conjunction with Lollapalooza in the hope of "promoting alternative energy solutions" and to help educate concertgoers about "the destructive Bush energy bill."

The musicians -- more than 20 bands are performing at each show -- will transport themselves, their stage workers and their equipment more than 11,000 miles (mileage found by using Yahoo! driving directions to calculate the distance from venue to venue) while performing this summer. Whether traveling by bus or airplane, it seems odd that exhausting that much fuel is considered a wise allocation when they are trying to promote the prudent use of energy.

Here in Washington, D.C., numerous arenas could likely accommodate the crowd for the August 1 show, including RFK Stadium, located 4.8 miles from the While House and within a stone's throw of public transportation. Lollapalooza officials instead chose to hold the concert at Nissan Pavilion, located 35.1 miles from the White House and nowhere near public transportation. In addition to having the bands use copious amounts of fuel while crisscrossing the country, the Sierra Club's friends at Lollapalooza are hoping to be "promoting" alternative energy in the D.C. area by forcing attendees to drive their cars to the concert.

This is not the only time so-called environmentalists have spent excessive amounts of fuel in the name of the environment. As the National Center's Vice President David Ridenour pointed out, in November 1998, over 9,000 diplomats, journalists, environmentalists and other observers burned millions of gallons of jet fuel while flying to a meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The purpose of the meeting was to reduce world greenhouse gases and the "threat" of global warming. The left did not take notice to the fact that so much fuel was consumed so environmentalists could attend the conference.

In my opinion, this is another example of Sierra Club officials working to clean up the environment only when convenient to them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:45 PM

Buffalo Soldiers:

An interesting letter in response to Project 21's complaints that Disney/Miramax (strangely) chose the nickname of widely-admired black military units for its new movie about military misfits.
Hello, Mr. Almasi,

My wife and I saw this film last night and aside from being unable to find anything redeeming in it, I am struck by the use of the name of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers of the Plains Wars as the title of this movie. Your review, at http://mhking.blogspot.com/2003_07_20_mhking_archive.html, was the only one I can find that even mentions this issue. I must keep in mind that nothing happens in a movie by accident - everything is staged. So is the title supposed to reference the fact that the MP's were all Black? Or is it supposed to suggest that Army recruits, who according to the film, are there because they were criminals who close the military as an alternative to prison, are similar to the freed slaves who became the Buffalo Soldiers in 1866? This is an insult to everyone concerned.

I'd appreciate any further thinking you may have on this question, or any articles of which you're aware that discuss it.

Thank you very much.

"T.K"

BTW, I was opposed to the Iraq War, and I oppose the direction George Bush is taking us in. I am not a fan of the military. But this film seems far too much of a stretch to be taken seriously. It is NOT funny, however, it's disgusting.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:10 PM

What's Good for the Goose

The GOPUSA.com website today has a story about former Senator James Abourezk (D-SD) suing a 20-year-old website operator for calling Abourezk a traitor. The story gets amusing when it recounts that Abourezk himself has used the term loosely: for example, in a reference to Walter Mondale.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:40 AM

Quagmire

A note for the blog from hubby, David:
One hundred forty-eight of America's best died in the line of duty -- killed in shoot-outs, accidents or in peace-keeping operations.

Some could call it a quagmire, an unwinnable war, for which the only solution is a quick withdrawal.

But withdrawal is not an option.

You see, the statistics cited are not the number of U.S. servicemen lost in post-war Iraq, but of police officers killed in the line of duty last year here in America. Over the past decade, an average of 165 policemen have died each year, while an additional 15,750 have been injured.

But no one suggests that we withdraw from the war on crime.

Perhaps we should keep this in mind the next time someone suggests that the term "quagmire" be used to describe the Iraq conflict.

True, the U.S. population -- and thus the magnitude of the peacekeeping -- is about five times that of Iraq.

But then, the U.S. is not technically a war zone.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Me White, Me Dumb

The Fox News Channel this afternoon was interviewing a fellow who believes that white and Asian folks cannot teach black history because non-blacks are incapable of understanding the black experience.

My thoughts:

If whites and Asians cannot teach the black experience because they cannot understand it, then they can't learn it, so there is no point in trying to teach it to them. Total waste of time and class space.

Furthermore, since every black naturally does understand the black experience, being black and all, there is no point in a black person attending such a class. Why take a class to learn materials you've already mastered?

So, if whites and Asians can't learn this material, and blacks know it already, why have black history classes at all?

(Of course, I am being facetious. I don't agree with the fellow being interviewed on Fox -- a trial lawyer, not a teacher, by the way. Although he is black himself, his formulation requires a belief that black history is little more than feelings and emotions. He's wrong about that.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:47 PM

Speaking of Brown v. Board of Education, Does the Left Still Support It?

Various folks here have opinions about NY Mayor Bloomberg's announcement that NYC will open a public high school exclusively for gay students.

David Almasi, our executive director, notes the irony of a liberal-backed plan to segregate gay students from others nearly 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education decreed that segregating students denies "the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment." He wonders: Does the left now repudiate Brown as well?

David Ridenour, vp (and husband) observed that the University of Michigan, when defending before the U.S. Supreme Court policies that gave minority students extra admissions points based on their race, said "diversity" is an important component of education. By and large, the left has applauded Michigan's reasoning. So... why aren't these same leftists condemning New York's decision to make NY schools less diverse?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:16 PM

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Senator Jim Inhofe 1, Arianna Huffington 6

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) delivered a long speech about climate change on the floor of the Senate Monday. As I write this the Environment and Public Works Committee does not yet have a copy of the Senator's speech on its website, but in the meantime, we excerpt it generously in our Ten Second Response newsletter here.

The Senator's speech is noteworthy in part because it is a useful review of the global warming debate and thus is worth keeping for future reference, but also because the Senator does what many others don't on this issue (including people who should know better): he goes beyond the official line and thinks for himself.

Since the Senator is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, his views on this and why he holds them are noteworthy. Let's see if the mainstream news media gives his speech as much coverage as, say, it gives to Arianna Huffington's opinions on SUVs.

I'm not overly optimistic. A search on Google News as of 11:30 PM Monday showed only one report about Senator Inhofe's speech, the Ten Second Response newsletter we published (linked to above). There were, however, a half dozen new stories there mentioning Arianna.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:18 AM

So How About It, Ms. Lee? What's Your Source?

A New York Times piece by Jennifer 8. Lee on July 28 says "Many senators are torn between growing public concern about global warming and industry's contentions that carbon dioxide regulations are misguided..."

I'll skip a diatribe about the story labeling everyone on our side of the issue as "industry" and go on to Ms. Lee's assertion that public concern about global warming is "growing."

What's Ms. Lee's source? She doesn't say. Did she make this up?

I went to the Gallup website in search of answers. In April 2003, Gallup said, 28 percent of Americans "worry a great deal" about global warming.

In March 2002, Gallup said, 29 percent of Americans "worry a great deal" about global warming. In 2000, 40 percent did.

I don't see a confirmation of Ms. Lee's assertion in these numbers, but perhaps she used another pollster.

So, how about it, Ms. Lee. What's your source?

(Another interesting fact from Gallup: In 2002, only 32 percent of those polled thought the news media's reporting on global warming was "generally correct.")

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:14 AM

So What's Her Full Middle Name?

OK, so the NY Times has a reporter whose middle numeral is "8," as in "Jennifer 8. Lee." Others have noticed this already.

Fine. But since the Times puts a period after the "8," we must assume "8" is an abbreviation. For what? Or is the Times just bad with numerals, is in names and polls and such?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 AM

Monday, July 28, 2003

The Fox New Channel is Wrong...

...to label Bob Hope's daughter on screen as "adopted daughter." His daughter is his daughter.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:13 PM

Maybe the Senator Thinks Oliver Brown Sued the Topeka Board of Education Because He Liked Segregated Classrooms

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has it wrong. The occasion this time it is his observation in the Sunday New York Times about those who say the Senate Democrats’ resistance to pro-life judicial nominees amounts to a de facto anti-Catholic bias.
Like many Americans of Irish descent, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on Judiciary, said he grew up hearing his father talk about the bad old days when Irish Catholics were greeted with signs saying they "need not apply." He added, "It was a horrible part of our history, and it's almost like you have people willing to rekindle that for a short-term political gain, for a couple of judges."
No, Senator, speaking up against perceived anti-Catholic bias is not "rekindling" bias -- it is fighting it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 AM

Sunday, July 27, 2003

A Thought About the Michigan Affirmative Action Case

While we were driving back to the Ridenour compound after church today David and I were discussing the Michigan affirmative action case the Supreme Court decided a few weeks back. David observed that if schools such as Michigan truly want a diverse student body and to help minority students they would sponsor tutoring programs and/or summer schools for middle and high-school students in minority neighborhoods to help these students meet color-blind admissions standards. That way, he pointed out, the students wouldn't just be accepted at the the more elite colleges, they'd actually do well there.

David also observed that we always hear that such-and-such a school has X percent minority students enrolled, but the actual statistic that matters is what percentage of the graduates are minorities.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:34 PM

Compound Questions

David and I took our three kids to Harbor Place in Baltimore to ride their carousel, a restored 1912 model largely built with wood. Unlike more modern models, it had no seat belts. Although none of the children appeared in any danger of falling off -- the owner charged nothing for a parent to stand near children to make sure they don't slip off -- it is hard to imagine anyone building a carousel that way in this lawsuit-sodden era.

After we put the kids in bed I checked my email. 78 pieces of spam in six hours, including one of those fake eBay emails that have been in the news. Also an interesting missive from Ed Haislmaier, recommending a John Stossel "Give Me a Break" piece for the blog:
Wind farms are popular in Europe and California, and environmentalists like them because they are a relatively clean way to produce electricity. It's a reason Jim Gordon proposes to install 130 wind turbines 6 1⁄2 miles off the coast of Cape Cod.

But there's a problem.

Although the Natural Resources Defense Council, and its attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., support wind power (Kennedy says he's "strongly in favor of wind-energy production at sea,") Kennedy doesn't want a wind farm on Nantucket Sound, where his family might see it from their elegant compound in Hyannis Port.
You can't please environmentalists, in my opinion. We can't drill for oil in a tiny barren portion of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to them, because drilling would spoil an area unsullied by humans (Eskimos apparently don't count). But nor can windmills be placed in Nantucket Sound because people might see them.

I wonder if Stossel has actually been to the Kennedy place in Hyannis Port or if he's just assuming it is elegant. The Kennedy compound in Florida was a dive. And, why do we call houses that Kennedys own "compounds"?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:42 AM

Lawsuits All Around

Three justices on the Nevada Supreme Court may be suing columnist Vin Suprynowicz and the Las Vegas Review-Journal for defamation, says Rick Henderson's Deregulator blog, brought to my attention by Jonathan Garthwaite. They'd lose that suit, in my opinion. This is the court that just ordered a tax increase in Nevada, a decision that properly belongs to the state's legislature. Perhaps the citizenry of Nevada should be suing them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Mailbag

A nice letter. One of the things I have really appreciated over the years is the extremely nice letters that people send. Not complaining about anything, not asking for any gratis research lookups (yes, I mean you, students with a paper due who need 2,000 words really, really fast, preferably tonight), not name-calling or threatening to come over and do violence (yes, we get a few of those) or claiming without the slightest bit of information or accuracy that we?re in the pocket of some industry (if only we were in the pockets of all the industries we're accused of being in, we?d be rich enough to fund our own foundation). Just folks who take a couple of minutes to brighten someone else?s day with a nice note. So, thanks, A.W., and to all of you out there who send nice letters to people you have never even met. I hope other people are treating you as nicely as you treat the world.
I am really enjoying the Blog. As a young African American woman I find the diversity in the reporting refreshing, nothing gets past you!

Thank you much...
"A.W."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:20 AM

Friday, July 25, 2003

Mailbag

A long message from Bryan H in Mankato, excerpted somewhat for brevity:
It is true the United States of America is the greatest country in the world when measured by political, economic and military might, which could be argued to be one in the same under the latter. The question lies not in if we are the greatest country in the world. The question becomes whether we are the best country we could be. I would argue a country of 5% of the world's population using 25-30% of the world's resources, controlling as many other nations as it can through fear of its powers listed above and where millions of honest citizens spend nights in cardboard boxes sick and hungry with millions more incarcerated rather than treated while 1% of the nations population own 40% of the wealth is a country that could use some work.

As Americans, who have greater capabilities than citizens of any other nation, it is our responsibility to move ourselves and in turn the planet and our race towards a greater future. MLK Jr. might agree. Pres. Clinton might agree then chicken out. Pres. G.W. Bush might say it will never work.
I get emails with the point about 15-30% of the world's resources (where does that figure come from, anyway?) pretty often, and I'll say to it what every free-market environmentalist says, which is you shouldn't compare resources use to population size, but rather resources use to output. The U.S. economy is increasingly efficient.

I don't believe as many nations are afraid of us as might be handy for both their people and us. North Korea comes to mind. France certainly hasn't been. Maybe Iran is a tiny bit afraid these days, but that seems like a good thing.

The "millions" sleeping hungry in cardboard boxes and "millions more incarcerated rather than treated...." seem to be gross exaggerations, but you won't get any argument here about treating the genuinely mentally ill -- though I'd define that rather tightly.

Good line about Clinton, though.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 PM

Needed: An Endangered Marines Act

Our senior fellow Dana Joel Gattuso has a nice piece on TechCentralStation.com today.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:43 PM

Delusions

The House of Representatives voted for the drug reimportation bill early this morning. Christine Hall of CNSNews.com has a good story on the split within conservative ranks on the proposal, although feelings by free-marketeers are a good deal more heated that one might suppose from this piece.

Comments by our own Ed Haislmaier are featured in part of the story:
Ed Haislmaier from the National Center for Public Policy Research says the result of drug importation will be price controls and the enrichment of middlemen.

"To the extent that we're letting other countries get away with this, it's a form of stealing," said Haislmaier. "They're ex-appropriating other people's intellectual property."

Haislmaier said drug importation proponents are in effect importing those price controls. "You're doing it through a back door," he said.

In any case, said Haislmaier, people are mistaken to believe that drug importation will lead to cheaper drugs in the U.S.

Wholesalers and pharmacists - the prospective middlemen - would have "no incentive to offer more than just a slight discount" off the U.S. price. "Why not pocket the difference?" he asked.
Haislmaier predicted that following through on the proposal would amount to "opening up the door to potential mischief in terms of common criminals making a fast buck."

Free market proponents of drug importation are misguided, said Haislmaier, who believes that supporters have "convinced themselves that if the price is lower elsewhere than here, that it's free market, even if the only reason the price is lower elsewhere is because the government intervened with a price control."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:58 PM

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Down to the Wire

There are quite a few really excellent pieces out today from various conservative think-tanks and commentators about the drug reimportation legislation the House should be voting on late tonight. You'd think, with so many people writing about this, that the pieces would all have a certain sameness. But no.

Hmmm... Wonder if that means that conservatives who worry about this proposal are thinking for themselves and not merely acting as fronts for the drug industry, as some who like foreign price controls have implied (well, no, said outright).

Here's just a few of many pieces I liked: Grace-Marie Turner has good points about patent laws, though I admit I liked the section about the screaming match with Rep. Gil Gutknecht best.

TechCentralStation.com has quite a few good pieces -- too many to list, really.

University of Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein's take: that the only way to counter "the persistent problem of foreign free-riding on American innovation... is through tough negotiations [with foreign governments]..."

Duane Freese tells us about Canadians who have to come here to get drugs they can't get in Canada because of Canada's price controls.

Over at National Review, Robert Goldberg of the Manhattan Institute discusses the trial lawyers' role in all this, while Doug Bandow wonders why we "demonize those who cure us."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:21 PM

Vote on Drug Reimportation Today

The vote on the drug reimportation bill is expected in the House today. Both the Washington Post and Washington Times have editorials about it. Predictably, the Post favors the bill and the Times opposes it.

The Post's support, however, is rather lukewarm. As they put it after endorsing the bill: "At the same time, the creation of a loophole in the American legal system is the wrong way, in the long term, to solve such a thorny problem, even if it makes consumers happier in the short term."

The Times did a great job with their unsigned editorial. It is a tough subject to explain succinctly but whoever drafted their piece managed to cover a lot of ground in a few words and with tight prose. Had some quotes I hadn't seen before, too, such as Rep. John Dingell saying the bill would "lead to needless injuries and deaths."

We issued a press release. It contains some quotes from the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN). I was a little surprised at how bluntly he has been dismissing both the motives and the facts of those who disagree with him on this. He says, for example, that both the Bush and Clinton Administrations have been dishonest in refusing to certify drug importation as safe as "I think in truth they know it is safe." (Personally, I have a higher opinion of President Bush's integrity. Plus, I have it on the authority of quite a few leftist groups that Bush is in the pocket of the oil industry, so he can't be in the pocket of the drug industry as well.) Gutknecht also says opponents of drug reimportation "never use the facts." I'm not sure if that means we're all liars or we're all just stupid. Or maybe both, but in a very swift survey of major conservative groups and publications I easily found 19 that believe drug reimportation is bad public policy. That's a lot of stupid liars.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:00 AM

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

FDA Says "Drug Reimportation" Price Control Bill Would Raise Drug Prices $2 Billion

An article in today's Washington Post begins:
In a strongly worded letter to Congress, the Food and Drug Administration has come out swinging against proposed legislation that would legalize reimportation of lower-cost pharmaceutical drugs from Canada and other countries.

The letter from Commissioner Mark McClellan to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said the agency could not guarantee the safety of drugs imported from abroad, and that the bill would "erode" the FDA's ability to oversee the nation's drug supply.

"FDA simply cannot support legislation that exposes Americans to greater potential risk of harm from unsafe or ineffective drugs," concludes the letter, which was delivered to committee chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) on Friday.

The letter also estimates that procedures mandated by the bill to reduce the counterfeiting of pharmaceutical drugs would raise the cost of prescription drugs by $2 billion in the first year...."
Not to mention the postage from Canada, that great free-market state to the north some conservative Members of Congress like to emulate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Frenchmen Set Fire to Eiffel Tower to Signal Surrender to Boy Scout Troop

From the guad:)spot blog, but appreciated by me:
Smoke billowing from Eiffel Tower!
Frenchmen set fire to the tower to signal their surrender to an American Boy Scout troop touring through France this morning. The boys were apparently overheard by a French Government official who reported that they were planning a "military strike" and using "coded transmissions..." Later it was discoverd the boys were playing the popular video game Command and Conquer on their GameBoys, and had no intention of taking France by force.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:34 AM

Congress: If You Legislate Changes in Medicare in Haste, You May Repent at Leisure

Ed Haislmaier, who serves on our board of directors (and who has just written two pieces for us on drug reimportation, which can be accessed here and here), testified before U. S. House Subcommittee on Human Rights & Wellness of the Committee on Government Reform on July 17 on Medicare prescription drug benefits.

Ed's warning to Congress: If you stick with either the House or Senate Medicare prescription drug bills, seniors won't thank you. In fact, Congress may face a potent "retiree backlash" once America's senior citizens are forced to start living under the legislation.

Or, as Ed put it in another venue, Deroy Murdock's National Review Online column cited directly below, "the drug benefit is going to be like a rotting carcass in the middle of the table come Election Day."

I've excerpted just a little bit of Ed's testimony here, but he's written a paper for The Heritage Foundation that goes into all of this in much more detail. I recommend it.
Notwithstanding the politically appealing and superficial rhetoric of universal drug coverage, it is the quality of the policy that will determine its reception among seniors and taxpayers alike. Based on the details of the Senate and House drug provisions, and the incentives and dynamics they are certain to set in motion, it is likely that a significant number of retirees will not be thanking their representatives for the new Medicare drug entitlement. Now, as in 1988, the danger for Congress is that if it legislates in haste, it could end up repenting at leisure.

If Congress wants to avoid the kind of retiree backlash that occurred in response to the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, it should scrap the drug provisions in both the House and Senate bills and go back to the 1999 recommendations of the majority of the membership of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare and provide Medicare beneficiaries with a choice between the traditional Medicare program as it exists today and new, private plans offering comprehensive, integrated benefits including outpatient prescription drug coverage.

The goal of true Medicare reform is to help tomorrow's retirees escape the growing problems that beset the current Medicare program, problems that are rooted in the absence of integrated, quality care. Congress should instead give retirees the option of choosing between the existing Medicare system and a set of new, private plans, with comprehensive drug coverage, subsidized by the government.

Only by covering outpatient prescription drugs through an integrated, flexible package of privately delivered health care benefits can Medicare in fact realize the tremendous potential of modern pharmaceuticals to both reduce other health care costs and to improve the quality of health outcomes and the lives of America's current and future retirees.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM

If Republicans Controlled Congress...

"If Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, this headache never would have happened," says Scripps Howard columnist (and Project 21 member) Deroy Murdock, tongue firmly in cheek, about the Medicare prescription drug bills.

Deroy, writing for National Review Online, also figured out the number of zeros involved in the initiative's unfunded long-term liability: eleven, as in $7,500,000,000,000, or $7.5 trillion.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:14 AM

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

It is Possible This is the Most Idiotic Thing I Have Ever Seen (Though Competition is Steep)

I saw this on The Angry Clam Blog, after being directed to it by Instapundit.com. Note the hilarity where the release says the UC Berkeley researchers "stressed that their findings are not judgmental."
Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | University oif California at Berkeley | 22 July 2003

BERKELEY – Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?

Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

* Fear and aggression
* Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
* Uncertainty avoidance
* Need for cognitive closure
* Terror management

"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.

Assistant Professor Jack Glaser of the University of California, Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and Visiting Professor Frank Sulloway of UC Berkeley joined lead author, Associate Professor John Jost of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and Professor Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park, to analyze the literature on conservatism.

The psychologists sought patterns among 88 samples, involving 22,818 participants, taken from journal articles, books and conference papers. The material originating from 12 countries included speeches and interviews given by politicians, opinions and verdicts rendered by judges, as well as experimental, field and survey studies.

Ten meta-analytic calculations performed on the material - which included various types of literature and approaches from different countries and groups - yielded consistent, common threads, Glaser said.

The avoidance of uncertainty, for example, as well as the striving for certainty, are particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought - the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo, they said.

The terror management feature of conservatism can be seen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views, they wrote.

Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).

Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way.

This research marks the first synthesis of a vast amount of information about conservatism, and the result is an "elegant and unifying explanation" for political conservatism under the rubric of motivated social cognition, said Sulloway. That entails the tendency of people's attitudinal preferences on policy matters to be explained by individual needs based on personality, social interests or existential needs.

The researchers' analytical methods allowed them to determine the effects for each class of factors and revealed "more pluralistic and nuanced understanding of the source of conservatism," Sulloway said.

While most people resist change, Glaser said, liberals appear to have a higher tolerance for change than conservatives do.

As for conservatives' penchant for accepting inequality, he said, one contemporary example is liberals' general endorsement of extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities such as gays and lesbians, compared to conservatives' opposing position.

The researchers said that conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs, but that "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled."

They also stressed that their findings are not judgmental.

"In many cases, including mass politics, 'liberal' traits may be liabilities, and being intolerant of ambiguity, high on the need for closure, or low in cognitive complexity might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty," the researchers wrote.

This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes, the researchers advised.

The latest debate about the possibility that the Bush administration ignored intelligence information that discounted reports of Iraq buying nuclear material from Africa may be linked to the conservative intolerance for ambiguity and or need for closure, said Glaser.

"For a variety of psychological reasons, then, right-wing populism may have more consistent appeal than left-wing populism, especially in times of potential crisis and instability," he said.

Glaser acknowledged that the team's exclusive assessment of the psychological motivations of political conservatism might be viewed as a partisan exercise. However, he said, there is a host of information available about conservatism, but not about liberalism.

The researchers conceded cases of left-wing ideologues, such as Stalin, Khrushchev or Castro, who, once in power, steadfastly resisted change, allegedly in the name of egalitarianism.

Yet, they noted that some of these figures might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended. The researchers noted that Stalin, for example, was concerned about defending and preserving the existing Soviet system.

Although they concluded that conservatives are less "integratively complex" than others are, Glaser said, "it doesn't mean that they're simple-minded."

Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said. "They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm," Glaser said.

He pointed as an example to a 2001 trip to Italy, where President George W. Bush was asked to explain himself. The Republican president told assembled world leaders, "I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right." And in 2002, Bush told a British reporter, "Look, my job isn't to nuance."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:59 PM

Following in the Footsteps of Richard M. Nixon, and Heading Left

Every now and then conservatives when in informal conversation raise the subject of recent presidential administrations: which was the best, the worst, the most liberal, the most conservative, etc.

When the question arises regarding which of our recent presidents was most conservative -- or even conservative at all -- if Nixon is mentioned, someone invariably says: "wage and price controls."

These four words tend to end the debate. No conservative could ever support wage and price controls.

I mention this because of the issue of drug importation, which the House of Representatives is expected to vote on this week.

Drug importation is the price control debate of 2003. It is the re-introduction of a debate most thought over -- at least on the right -- thirty years ago.

Essentially, Members of Congress, some of whom are conservative on other issues, want the U.S. to allow the importation of drugs from nations that have cheaper drugs -- cheaper because those other nations have socialistic price controls.

Nixon can't be called a true conservative president because he supported wage and price controls. He did, however, have one thing going for him today's advocates of price controls do not: Nixon believed in setting American prices in Washington. Congressional backers of drug importation essentially want them set in Ottawa.

(That's the best case scenario, by the way. They could be set in Harare.)

Now, its possible that someone will say I'm a liar for saying all this, as nasty accusations seem to be the weapon of choice for some of the folks in the drug reimportation debate. If so, that's life, but I'll still be left wondering: if price controls on drugs are such a great idea, why are the backers of drug reimportation wanting to piggyback on Canadian (and other countries') price controls? Why not push legislation to impose price controls on drugs here in the U.S.?

And why stop with drugs? There are a lot of expensive products out there. Let's slap price controls on all of them, or at least the products we value most. We're conservatives. We don't believe in free enterprise.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:33 AM

If Bill O'Reilly...

...thinks the "shoot a naked woman with a paint gun" story is so appalling, why does his show keep showing viewers very-slightly blurred footage of a naked woman running away from a guy with a paint-ball gun?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Monday, July 21, 2003

Nasty Debate Over a Nasty Idea

The issue of allowing prescription drug reimportation probably seems boring to a lot of people, but it has been one of the hotter -- even divisively nasty -- topics in conservative circles in Washington over the past week.

In an editorial July 21, the Wall Street Journal took the position, which I share, that allowing drug reimportation is a bad idea, but it also -- gratuitously, I thought -- went out of its way to slap drug companies, saying "We don't have much time for the pharmaceutical industry's contention that such imports would pose a significant health risk to American consumers."

The WSJ had so little time; it didn't bother to tell readers why it doesn't believe safety is an issue.

Our Ed Haislmaier, in a paper we just published, had enough time to develop a different view. He reports, in part:
Last month, three California men pleaded guilty to charges of selling and wholesale distribution of fake Procrit, an anti-anemia drug. The perpetrators of the fraud were passing off vials that "contained only bacteria-tainted water" to unsuspecting pharmacists and patients.

Other recent cases involved criminals selling fake versions of Lipitor (a cholesterol lowering drug) and Serostim (a growth hormone often used to treat AIDS wasting); passing off sterile water as Neupogen (a drug used to treat cancer patients) and aspirin as Zyprexa (a drug for schizophrenia) and selling tampered vials of Epogen diluted to 1/20th strength (like Procrit, Epogen is used to stimulate red blood cell production in cancer and AIDS patients).

In the Epogen case, an FDA official noted that, unwittingly, "a major wholesale distributor was holding approximately 1,600 cartons of counterfeit product," while the Florida health inspector on the case reported "25,000 patients received a one-month supply of diluted drugs.”

The problem is much worse overseas. Counterfeit drug sales are rampant in many Third World countries. Also, both at home and abroad, organized crime is getting into the act. It has discovered that the profits from faking legal drugs are as big as those from selling illegal drugs, while detection by the authorities is less likely and the penalties, if caught, are much lighter. In any country, conviction for selling fake pharmaceuticals will get you a fine and maybe some jail time, while in some countries trafficking in heroin carries the death penalty.

Advocates of easier drug importing argue that new tamper-resistant technologies and tracking systems will keep the crooks at bay. But, given the lengths and sophistication some criminals go to in producing counterfeit money, there's no reason to think they won't also buy, steal or fake whatever is needed to make the packaging of fake drugs also look real. And that is without a hostile government getting into the act, as has often been the case with currency counterfeiting.
I also recommend a Weekly Standard piece written by John E. Calfee of the American Enterprise Institute, which says, in part: "...price controls would end up suppressing innovation here, just as they have done abroad. It is one thing for the Canadians and Europeans to free-ride on American R&D, but we can't free-ride on ourselves. The system that gave us the drugs the whole world wants would be hobbled just when researchers are finally glimpsing pathways to cures for cancer, Alzheimer's, and other killers."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:58 PM

Maybe the Post Needs New Copy Editors

I planned to stop writing about the Washington Post tonight, I really did, but I just clicked back on the main page of their website and found the headline "Democrats Still Lack Favorite" replaced with:
For Delay, PACs Widen Clout

House minority leader earns wealth of influence through fundraising gambit.

– Juliet Eilperin
First, Tom DeLay's name is spelled with a capital "L."

Second, he's Majority Leader.

But heck, its just a headline. Presumably, silly mistakes don't appear in actual articles.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:34 PM

What's With the Washington Post, Anyway?

Just three days after my first diatribe on this subject in this blog, I am once again wondering about the Washington Post's attitude toward children. Specifically, if the Post's editorial position (accidentally or otherwise) is that the death of a child is less newsworthy than the death of an adult.

In today's edition the Post runs a heartbreaking story. Here's an early paragraph in the story about 44-year-old Allen Boyd, Jr., whose entire family is dead.
They are gone now, his family, every last one. Each a victim of his or her own hand, five suicides over the course of 25 years. First, his movie-star-pretty mother, Sara, an elementary school teacher. Next, his twin brothers, followed by his sister and finally his father, Allen Boyd Sr.
If you stop at that part of the story, you'll believe the family had six members, and five committed suicide. The phrasing "each a victim of his or her hand, five suicides..." seems very straightforward, right?

Only if four-year-olds don't count.

It seems that when Allen Boyd's sister committed suicide, she first shot and killed her four-year-old son, Ian Boyd Sheppard. So, the family had seven members -- five lost to suicide, one murdered, one still living.

So why doesn't the story present it that way?

In the print edition of the Post, by the way, the top of the story is graced with headshots of the five sucide victims. A photo of the four-year-old who was shot in the forehead by his mother is the only dead member of the family whose photo does not appear in this lineup. (A photo of Ian, an adorable lad, posed standing between his grandfather and the woman who later killed him, does appear on an inside page.)

I don't know what to think.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:22 PM

Stop the (Web) Presses

The Washington Post has breaking news on its website just now: "Democrats Still Lack Favorite." I think we already knew.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:10 PM

Also Worth Reading

More on the BBC's version of the NY Times' Jayson Blair scandal from the always-a-great-read Wall Street Journal Best of the Web by James Taranto.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:46 PM

Worth Reading

Andrew Sullivan's blog has a very interesting piece today under the headline "Gilligan's Island of Untruth" about deceptive anti-American reporting by the BBC vis-a-vis Iraq.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:11 PM

A Double-Standard?

A note from my colleague David Almasi:
Like the liberals who are trying to derail the Bush presidency over the 16 words about Iraq and uranium in his State of the Union address, liberals earlier this year tried to end the career of Senator Rick Santorum for this statement: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." Former congressional Majority Leader Dick Armey is still followed by the 1995 slip of the lip when he referred to gay congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) as "Barney Fag" (a co-worker at the time told me that she heard about it when NPR broke from regular programming to cover it as if a war had started). When conservatives say something offensive -- or are perceived to have done so (in the case of Santorum) -- out come the knives.

Considering this hypersensitivity to anything considered anti-gay, why has there not been an outcry over Congressman Fortney "Pete" Stark? On July 18, according to the Washington Times, he called his colleague Scott McInnis (R-CO) a "fruitcake," and threatened a fight. If it had been the other way around, and McInnis uttered the anti-gay slur, you can imagine it would have been the top of the news for days.

Stark is no stranger to the art of low blows. Consider these few (of many) examples:

* In March of 2002, he inferred on the House floor that the Republican Party operated like Hitler's National Socialist Party.

* He refused to join a House resolution marking former President Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday.

* In 2001, he referred to President George W. Bush as the "anti-Christ." When speaking about Medicare reform and prescription drug benefits, he complained during a hearing that "I don't think the President had to pay a penny when he went to [Alcoholics Anonymous], and my impression is that it's still free."

* In another hearing, on welfare reform, he alleged that the children of House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (R-OK), a black man, "were all born out of wedlock."

* Criticizing the 1991 Gulf War, he blamed the conflict on his "Jewish colleagues" -- especially "Field Marshall" Stephen Solarz (D-NY).

Is there a double standard here? Not to be politically incorrect myself, but: Is the Pope Catholic?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 PM

Friday, July 18, 2003

Gibberish Against the War, Or, Who Is She to Talk About the SS?

The alleged killer (see below) of little Jehan Vazirani Komunyakaa -- his mother, Reetika Vazirani -- is said to have been an accomplished poet.

Judge for yourself her submission to the anti-Bush anthology "Poets Against the War."
MOUTH-ORGANS AND DRUMS

fighting god it shattered belts
a hundred thousand women who
from balconies bowed palace grounds
bells and shell necklaces we buried
a night wrists chinking twenty-two
karat come down to drum level
men line the other side of the chawk
rosewater pista badam suntra
green straws bottled drinks horns blow
boxing matches everyone is
voting dice games a new parliament
says cowherders and ayahs
will also live in good houses food
will not know radiation's dead
enzyme take your voucher I check
my lipstick dusty arms feet
no sleep in twenty-four
seven red packages over the field
I give a ring to the baker
take hints from the fish man's tilted face
seven days as if the city would
marry of course I went forward
all four classes ate from the same
fringe of leaves tinsel wet
fingers dark light no sacrifices peace
in pearls and in rock
peace in the seas' wilderness
in English Tamil Trigigna
and in the jetstream of ocean
peace on the SS Warmachine in
god five hundred thousand rose
all flags no one kingdom select

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:37 PM

Did He Have a Dimple When He Smiled?

The Washington Post has a front page story today about a woman who apparently murdered her two-year-old son and then killed herself.

The piece ends with numerous compliments about the life and work of the alleged baby-killling murderess, but devotes not one word to a description of the little boy who apparently was killed by the one person in the world he should have been able to trust more than any other. Did little Jehan Vazirani Komunyakaa like to play with cars? Have a favorite stuffed animal or a song that made him sleepy or a dimple when he smiled?

The Post has space to tell us his alleged killer was "an accomplished lyrical storyteller," and the summer vacation plans of the alleged killer's landlord, but the story of little Jehan's life rated... nothing.

The article ends with this compliment to the dead woman: "It's just sad, you know. She was such a beautiful spirit. It's just a loss to the world." No. Not a loss to the world. "Beautiful spirits" do not murder babies.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:18 PM

Words of Mass Deception (WMD)

A personal observation from my husband, David, regarding the possible manipulation of data to justify the Iraq war:
Democrats say President Bush produced words of mass deception (WMD) to justify war with Iraq. But despite weeks of searching, they've been unable to unearth a single WMD -- no smoking gun, not even smoke.

Could it be that they wanted to attack Bush at any price and manipulated information to justify such an attack?

If so, this would be the worst act of deception and abuse of power since Hillary Clinton's health care task force.

The American people have a right to know: What don't the Democrats know and when did they know they didn't know it?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:29 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Are Union Members Lemmings?

Last year's business scandals should have been enough to remind everyone of the importance of reliable business audits and public disclosure generally. But while many would say it is self-evident that ethics rules that are good for big business are good for big labor, labor unions are fighting hard against Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao's proposal that labor unions disclose to members how union funds are spent.

The National Legal and Policy Center has an interesting piece quoting unions asking their own members to lobby the government so the unions won't have to tell the members how their money is spent.

Lemmings, by the way, are arctic rodents best known for devastating mass actions that end in their own destruction.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:29 PM

Monday, July 14, 2003

Pop Quiz

Which Washington policy group begins a Jul 14 memo with three claims and three rebuttals, as exerpted:
The White House says [claim deleted]. Not entirely true.

The administration says [claim deleted]. Not true.

The White House claims [claim deleted]. Wrong again.
No, not one of those left-wing organizations that is always criticizing the President, but the conservative, normally pro-Bush Heritage Foundation.

If you pay taxes or use the health care system, or think you might ever do either one, it is worth checking out what Heritage said.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:21 PM

Americans are About to Pay Dearly for Natural Gas

Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen has an op-ed in the Detroit Free-Press and other newspapers this week answering the question: Why have natural gas prices nearly doubled this past year?

A short, short version of his answer: "the same federal government that was promoting the use of natural gas was systematically limiting its supply."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:57 PM

What Would Jesus Drive...?

...a large SUV, says the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America in a story by Anna Bakalis in the July 14 Washington Times.

The group is poking fun at an environmentalist campaign that seemingly purports to speak for our Lord by running ads that ask "middle-age Jesus Rivera" why he bought his 1995 SUV.

My husband, David, wonders if an SUV would have been big enough for the original Jesus, who had 12 disciples travelling with him and a need to carry carpenter's tools. He'd also want extra space to pick up anyone in need on the roadside.

Possibly, theologically speaking, the current crop of SUVs aren't quite big enough.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:09 PM

Saturday, July 12, 2003

And You Thought All It Subsidized Were Farms

Our executive director, David Almasi, had a comment about this Fox News/AP story. It is about the estimated 15 percent of the 55,000 employees at the U.S Department of Agriculture who carry government credit cards misusing the cards to, for example, "pay tuition for bartender school, to buy Ozzy Osbourne concert tickets, lingerie and tattoos and to make a down payment on a car":
This, just like the similar problem with the local government here in Washington, shows the problems of big government. Besides a slap on the wrist, the punishment is to teach the employees how to use their credit cards properly. You can't train someone to not get a tattoo with a government credit card. An action so blatantly illegal shows intent. When I accidentally used my company card for a personal expense a few years back, I was so mortified that I sent a letter of apology and thought about paying interest.
I'll add a note of my own. The audit referred to in this story is a "random audit" of 300 of 55,000 card accounts. Are we to assume that standard operating procedure at the USDA is to give out credit cards and never check the charges? If so, that's mismanagement. At our think-tank, every charge on every card is reviewed -- by an outside, independent auditor, no less. It has never occurred to us to do it any differently, any more than we would pay a bill without verifying that the invoice is correct.

Furthermore, if one of our executives used a business card for personal advantage, the IRS could come down on us -- hard -- by taking away our permission to operate as a tax-exempt foundation. That isn't an empty threat. On the two occasions The National Center was audited (each audit coincidentally occurred during the Clinton Administration -- our only IRS audits in 21 years of business), our credit card records were carefully scrutinized. We did fine, but we wouldn’t have if we’d been using the federal government’s business model.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:29 PM

Friday, July 11, 2003

A Frivolous Piece

Michael Kinsley's piece on medical malpractice reform in the July 11 Washington Post contains this paragraph:
One subject you don't see many anecdotes about is "frivolous lawsuits," although this is a major theme of malpractice reform crusaders. There's a reason: Even unworthy lawsuits usually don't look frivolous up close. A quadriplegic who wins $20 million in what critics call the "lawsuit lottery" is still a quadriplegic. He is still a quadriplegic even if others in the same situation get little or nothing. He is still a quadriplegic even if the doctor he sued did nothing in particular wrong. If you had the choice in advance, would you agree to become a quadriplegic for $20 million?
First, if an "unworthy lawsuit" doesn't look frivolous up close, then it wasn't an unworthy lawsuit.

Second, frivolous lawsuit stories rarely, if ever, feature persons who were injured to the point of quadriplegia. More likely examples -- such as the last several I've written for the National Center's Legal Briefs newsletter -- are of persons who sue because their feelings have been hurt, or to blame others for something they did to themselves (such as the Pennsylvania woman we'll cover in Legal Briefs #28, due out July 15th, who suffered a drug overdose because she shot herself up with cocaine and heroin, and now is suing a half-dozen defendants she says are responsible).

Third, the hypothetical quadriplegic in Kinsley's story sues a doctor who is forced to pay $20 million although he did nothing wrong. Kinsley uses this scenario to conclude: "So the direct effect of restricting the size of malpractice judgments would be to increase injustice, not to reduce it."

Huh?

Then Kinsley makes it clear that he supports medical malpractice reform, he's just conflicted about the fact that its a GOP proposal and the GOP isn't his usual team. Gee, we could hardly tell he was conflicted at all.

On the web version of the piece, by the way, the piece is adorned by two ads from lawyers specializing in medical malpractice cases. Conflicted, indeed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:10 PM

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

The American Prospect and Daschle v. Kennedy and Bush

Michael Tomasky, incoming executive editor of the liberal American Prospect, labels the prescription drug benefit President Bush has been pushing Congress to adopt as "this Medicare swindle" in a piece on the TAS website today.

It's hard to see how the word "swindle" applies to a program that will cost taxpayers at least $400 billion more over the next ten years -- except in the very unlikely scenario that the TAS believes an expansion of big government is a de facto case of the taxpayers being swindled.

A click on a related piece by TAS co-editor Robert Kuttner on the TAS homepage in search of clues to the TAS point of view brought only the information that the proposed Medicare precription drug benefit has holes in coverage, which it surely does. But surely "swindle" is not the best word to describe that.

Let's be clear about what the conservative position on Medicare reform and a prescription drug benefit is. Conservatives want senior citizens to have the same health care coverage options as Members of Congress and federal employees. This is no swindle. This would be a vast improvement.

When it comes to Medicare, liberals appear to be split. Some simply want to throw stones, hoping Medicare's problems will be blamed on Republicans and conservatives, thereby relaunching the liberals into power, where they can once again fail to do anything about a prescription drug benefit. That's why Senator Daschle declined to push any kind of drug benefit through the Senate when he had the opportunity. Other liberals want to use Medicare as a lever through which the federal government can increase its control of our health care system; aka socialized medicine by stealth. That's why Senator Kennedy supports the Bush plan now.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:07 PM

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Yet, President Bush Wants This for Political Reasons...?

"When the complex Senate drug benefit was described to seniors who have drug coverage to ask if it would be better than the coverage they have now, 74% of seniors said no and only 16% said it would be better."

Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute, 6/29/03

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:14 PM

Monday, July 07, 2003

Bill O'Reilly: If Bush Deserves to Be Treated Fairly Vis-a-Vis Iraq, He Deserves to Be Treated Fairly on Global Warming

Bill O'Reilly was right (July 7 FNC O'Reilly Factor) when he emphatically said opinion columns should contain documentation for inflammatory accusations (his example was an International Herald-Tribune column calling President Bush a liar).

I believe he's right, but I wish he had applied this standard to his own "Talking Points Memo" of June 19, when he made the infammatory (and false) claim that President Bush is "censoring" federal government global warming studies.

See here and here for more of my thoughts on this particular point, and here for some of Bonner Cohen's.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:06 PM

An E-Mail from Iraq

One of the many admirable individuals associated with the African-American leadership group Project 21 (which we sponsor) sent this e-mail from Iraq to our David Almasi on Independence Day. Clearly, morale among American troops in Iraq is not universally low.
"Thank you for all your well wishes during this war. Your emails mean more
to me than I could possibly express. This 4th of July is very significant
for me, because of all that I have seen over the past 6 months. It is
incredible to me how little some Americans know about the freedoms which
they enjoy. That good people fought and died for such freedoms, and all of
the liberties that we take forgranted back home. Many question this war,
but the fact is America was founded out of taking a stand for what we
believe in. At home and abroad.

WE were attacked on Sept. 11th. The freedom which we enjoy was challanged.
We are meeting that challenge today, and will continue to do so for quite
some time. But the end result will be a preservation of that which we hold
so dear.

As I sit here in the desert, enduring a sand storm, on the 4th of July. I
do miss my family, friends, and all the celebrations, but I am where I am
supposed to be right now. I am here for everyone back home. I fought the
war in Iraq for everyone back home, and for those reasons, I will stay for
as long as it takes.

Thank you and others like you, who are fighting the 'good fight' at home.
Great Americans!

God Bless America

[Name Withheld],
Major, US Army"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 PM

Errata

Interesting tidbit in an e-mail received today by our V.P., David Ridenour, from "J.S." in South Africa:
"Zimbabwe must be one of the few places in the world where the largest note - Z$500 - can't buy you a beer, which costs Z$650. But if that's not bad enough, then consider that a roll of single-ply toilet paper costs Z$1000. There are about 72 sections on the average roll, so it is cheaper to take your Z$1000, change it into Z$10 notes, wipe with 72 of your notes, and keep the other $280 as change.

Financial Mail, 13 June 2003 issue, page 82"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:04 PM

White Like Us

Thanks to the National Center for Policy Analysis for noting this fact in a July 7 Minnesota Star-Tribune story by Kevin Diaz: Although blacks and Hispanics make up 26 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 3.5 percent of staffers on Capitol Hill.

We wonder what the percentage is at some other places... say, Justice O'Connor's staff.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:58 PM

What's at Stake With Medicare

If you want to know what's at stake during the debate over Medicare this summer -- what's at stake, that is, for everybody, not exclusively Medicare recipients -- Bob Bartley's July 7 column in the Wall Street Journal is a good place to start.

A preview: To sum up the Senate version of the Medicare bill, think France.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:55 PM

Number of Tax-Subsidized Enviro Groups Doubled in 1990s -- to 4,000

There is a worthy letter to the editor by Paul Taylor in today's Wall Street Journal. A brief excerpt:
"...as a percent of GDP we spend as much on environmental protections as we spend on national defense and homeland security combined. Taxpayer-subsidized green non-profit groups grew from 2,000 to 4,000 during the 1990s. These eco-non-profits have become skilled at gaming the regulatory system for political advantage in the guise of politically correct progressive public service."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:35 AM

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Greg Kelly Online

We ran across an unofficial fan site for Fox's "awesome" Greg Kelly while clinking links on various blogs. Apparently he's not the only Fox war correspondent to raise heart rates. Check out this site for the "capitivating" Jennifer Eccleston and this one for the Rick Leventhal, who "brings you the news with style." There probably are others.

There's a rather nice story in Newsday about what it was like for embedded journalists from various TV networks when they returned home after the war. It has less superlatives than the fan sites, though.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:44 PM

Jesse Jackson: Secretly Shy?

In this July 5 Orlando Sentinel story by Sandra Pedicini, one of Jesse Jackson's groups, Rainbow Sports, says it can't sponsor black race car driver Herbie Bagewell, Jr. or another black NASCAR driver because it "does not sponsor athletes."

Why not? Aside from possible embarassment to the driver, what's wrong with a car from going around the track with "Rainbow/PUSH" painted on it? Rainbow/PUSH took $250,000 in gifts from NASCAR and nothing about Jesse Jackson's career so far suggests that he is shy about advertising.

Still, Charles Farrell of Rainbow Sports told the Sentinel the group "could try to find Bagwell a sponsor." We hope Farrell meant it. Maybe Jackson does intend to leverage the quarter-million into substantial sponsorships -- say, more than a quarter-million worth -- for black race car drivers. If he does, we'd applaud his action. We'll stay tuned.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:18 PM

Washington Times on Jesse Jackson

Greg Pierce of the Washington Times was kind enough to mention Project 21's recent exhortation to Jesse Jackson in his July 4 column:
    The black leadership network Project 21 is pressuring the Rev. Jesse Jackson to support a promising black race-car driver who lacks the financial sponsorship needed to advance in the sport.
    Mr. Jackson has complained publicly that black drivers have been excluded from NASCAR. In 1999, according to the National Legal and Policy Center, Mr. Jackson told a conference attended by NASCAR's chief executive officer, "The fact of the matter is there is frustration because of exclusion. We were qualified to play baseball before 1947. We are qualified to race cars now."
    Since then, Mr. Jackson's organizations have received a reported $250,000 from NASCAR.
    On June 24, a board member of Mr. Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition renewed the attack on NASCAR, publicly charging that auto racing remains "the last bastion of white supremacy" in professional sports.
    Project 21, in a prepared statement released yesterday, urged Mr. Jackson to take the money given to his operations by NASCAR and use it to directly support an up-and-coming black driver.
    "As a devoted fan of NASCAR, I am troubled by Jesse Jackson's latest exploits," says Project 21 member Reginald Jones. "I never once have paused to consider the racial makeup of the drivers or other fans. Like white fans of the NBA, racial proportions are irrelevant to me.
    "NASCAR is a juicy target because of its Southern heritage and vast financial resources. Fans should be outraged by NASCAR's cowardice in the face of Jackson's latest hustle. People like me who have supported the sport do not appreciate our money going to him."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:08 PM

The Car They Don't Want Us to Drive

More fan mail about a piece by Eric Peters and me on SUVs and those who hate them called "The Car They Want You to Drive:"
"If you people are the product of American universities it is a sad testament to the rock-bottom quality of that education."
Gotta love all the reasons he gave us to change our opinions.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:58 PM

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Jesse Jackson: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

CNSNews.com just published a short story about Project 21's press release of earlier today.
Jesse Jackson Urged to Sponsor Black Race Car Driver

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative African-American leadership network says Jesse Jackson should put his money where his mouth is -- by sponsoring a promising black race-car driver. Project 21 notes that Jackson has publicly complained about black drivers being excluded from NASCAR. Given this continuing dissatisfaction, Project 21 said Jackson should use some of the money NASCAR has given him "and use it to directly support an up-and-coming black driver -- a driver, for example, such as Herbie Bagwell, Jr." As CNSNews.com reported earlier, on June 24, a board member of Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition renewed the attack on NASCAR, publicly charging that auto racing remains "the last bastion of white supremacy" in professional sports. According to Project 21, Bagwell - a racer since 1988 - recently was offered a race team for the upcoming Busch North Series after posting good testing times at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The $250,000 that NASCAR reportedly gave Jackson could be used to finance a driver like Bagwell throughout the six-race series, Project 21 said in a press release.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:19 PM

Volunteering for Dollars

In Al Hunt's Wall Street Journal column today, he complains about inadequate federal funding for AmericCorps volunteers.

If they need funding, why are they called "volunteers"?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 PM

Civility, Schmility

"If anyone disagrees with you or has a different point of view, you demonize them and label them as extremists." - Marty Hayden, legislative director of Earthjustice, complaining about press releases issued by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) that criticize groups on the environmental left, Sacramento Bee, Sunday, June 29, 2003.

"The Bush administration has adopted a 'no tree left behind' policy when it comes to our national forests. Under the Bush administration, the timber industry is calling all the shots; leaving fish, wildlife and the American public out in the cold." - Marty Hayden to CNSNews.com's Jeff Johnson while participating in a "21 Chainsaw Salute" protest demonstration outside the U.S. Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, July 3.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:13 PM

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Make Way for Ducklings

"The one woman will throw herself into traffic to save baby ducks, but promotes human abortions as a career."

-Our executive director, David Almasi, commenting on a June 28 Washington Post story about the communications director of the National Abortion Federation, who "threw herself in front of a Metro bus" to protect wandering baby ducks.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:55 PM

Choosing to Chew - Why Do Advocates of Choice Draw the Line at Tobacco?

Annette Niebelski has an interesting point on the Capital Research Center website today:
Anti-smoking advocates don't want you to compare the health risks of smoking and using smokeless tobacco because they oppose all tobacco use. They tout a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which shows smokeless tobacco leads to oral cancer rates higher than non-use. But they fail to point out that smokers who switch to smokeless tobacco reduce their risk of developing oral cancer by 50 percent. Also, it seems counter- intuitive for activists to campaign aggressively against second-hand smoke yet oppose smokeless tobacco.

Abstinence-only activists worry that if tobacco companies are allowed to show tobacco users how to minimize their health risks, the companies will entice new users. This is the impetus behind their campaigns attacking any kind of tobacco advertising.

But why should abstinence from tobacco be the only answer? The answer is that the activists are really arguing over morality. Many liberals tolerate promiscuity and drug use, but not tobacco. Most conservatives have strict moral objections to promiscuity and drug use, but don't think using tobacco is a sin. Both sides construct abstinence programs to reflect their moral opinions. An alternative like smokeless tobacco only seems incomprehensible if you are morally opposed to tobacco use.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:25 PM

Dissent

Not everyone agrees with my rosy picture of Senator Hatch's work on a solution to the asbestos crisis. "D.C." e-mailed me to write, in part: "Please read today's WSJ editorial: Senator Hatch's long-awaited 'reform' makes things worse. This contrived issue of asbestos liability is a national embarrassment concocted by the trial lawyers and the Democrats to bleed successful people of their hard-earned money. In fact, everyone in their criminal conspiracy should be sued by people injured or burned by fires and explosions that would have been prevented had asbestos been in more common use."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:43 PM

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