Friday, August 29, 2003

Historically, Gasoline Prices Are Not Expensive, Says Cato Institute

States Attorneys General have received nice publicity for themselves by calling on the federal government to investigate the cost of gasoline, neatly implying that something fishy is going on while simultaneously admitting they have no evidence any crimes have been committed. Meanwhile, the Cato Institute has published a paper by Steve Moore and Phil Kerpen pointing out that in historical terms, America had higher retail gasoline prices as recently as 1985, and significantly higher prices from 1979 to the mid 1980s.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:37 PM

Thursday, August 28, 2003

A Mischevious Idea

Professor James Miller of Smith College has a fun idea for combatting eco-terrorism on today's

He proposes that the government compensate victims of eco-terrorism from a government fund supplied by, among other options, selling federally-owned land to mining companies.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:47 PM

Why Run for Attorney General if Your Dream Job is to Run the American Lung Association?

The Attorneys General of Connecticut and Maine have written a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft asking Ashcroft to investigate whether the White House asked the free market Conservative Enterprise Institute to sue the Administration.

Mr. Blumenthal is known for being a left-wing activist on environmental issues, undertaking actions such as suing the Bush Administration essentially for having a different point of view than he has on global warming, but this seems extreme, even for him.

The lawsuit questions the scientific accuracy of a three-year-old study on global warming.

An AP story August 27 says Blumenthal also is asking the federal government to investigate the price of gasoline, even though he has no information that a crime has been committed, and another story of the same date says he and other state AGs are asking Hollywood to cut down on the number of scenes showing smoking in movies.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:22 AM

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Our President: Super-Legislator

Chris Burger and I put together one of our Ten Second Response newsletters in response to the EPA's New Source Review announcement earlier today.

We included a number of quotes from those who oppose the EPA's decision along with quotes from those who support it, as we do.

Some of the over-the-top rhetoric from opponents amazes me. For instance, the Albany Times-Union said in an editorial "President Bush's proposed overhaul of the Clean Air Act would eliminate the new source review provision."

Well, no, not by a longshot. The New Source Review provisions are part of the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments -- aka, they are federal law. No President has the authority to repeal laws.

Some of our past Presidents have broken laws, but that's different.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:11 PM

"You Are Full of S---," says Green Architect

"You are full of s---," reads the headline on an e-mail we received this morning from a Daniel F. Hellman, whose e-mail address reveals him to be a partner in Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects, LLC, of St. Louis. The e-mail goes on to say, apparently about our website's environmental materials, "This is the most disgusting propaganda I have ever seen."

Then another e-mail arrived from Mr. Hellman, headlined "Stooges of the Bush Administration." It referred us, not politely, to a page on the website of the Natural Resources Defense Council which contained this improbable but confident assertion: "Oil from the Arctic Refuge... doesn't promise any relief from dependence on foreign oil."

Finally, a third message, saying in full: "I hope someone turns your neighborhood into a toxic waste dump."

This, dear readers, is the level of discourse of the environmental left. On a good day.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 AM

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The Galileo Syndrome

In 1633, the astronomer Galileo was sentenced to house arrest by the Catholic Church for promoting his belief in Copernicus' theory of heliocentrism in a politically-incorrect manner.

The Catholic Church has now reconciled with science, but not so science with itself.

Consider the attacks on scientists who dare to express non-PC views.

Today's Washington Times op-ed page carries a piece by the director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware about efforts to smear two Harvard astrophysicists and the editor of a scientific journal who published them because the astrophysicists believe that the Earth's climate over the last 1,000 years has varied.

This is actually not a new theory, nor even a minority view among scientists, but it is politically-incorrect to mention it publicly because it is inconvenient to those who promote the ultra-PC global warming theory.

Thus the scientists, like Galileo, are condemned not because they are wrong, but because their outspokeness gets in the way.

Consider also the attacks on medical researchers who say smokeless tobacco products are a safer nicotine-delivery option than traditional cigarettes. As described in this National Center paper by our own James Gelfand, some anti-smoking activists are so zealous they attack scientists who recommend harm reduction strategies for tobacco use -- even though these strategies could save up to 400,000 lives a year.

The Catholic Church apologized for its treatment of Galileo. Will today's politically-incorrect inquistors learn from the Church's mistake?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:09 PM

Power Partisanship

An excellent, easy-to-understand summary of New Source Review in today's Wall Street Journal. A sample:
New Source Review dates back to the 1977 Clean Air Act amendments. In that era of petroleum shortages and fear of nuclear power, Congress realized the coal would continue to be a major source of American energy. So it wrote rules to ensure that any new power plants or other major pollution sources be fitted with the latest emissions-control technology. It did not, says Carter Energy Secretary James Schlesinger, intend for existing plants to make the upgrade. So everyone else believed and behaved for two decades.

But then the Clinton Administration, with its famous regard for the rule of law, got mad that utilities weren't reducing emissions beyond what Congress had required. Dozens of companies were brought to court on the novel charge that routine maintenance like replacing a steam duct or a turbine blade amounted to a "major modification," triggering NSR and requiring the installation of expensive scrubbers. The alleged scofflaws included the Feds' own Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as Detroit Edison, whose crime was installing more efficient (i.e., less polluting) turbines.

The Clinton actions were so outrageous that the utilities, which would normally be inclined to settle and preserve cozy relations with the government, stood their ground. But as the cases wend their way through the courts, they've been deferring maintenance and putting the nation's electricity supply at risk.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:28 PM

Monday, August 25, 2003

It Sounds Boring, I Know, But It Really Isn't

I think it would be a great public service if the blogging community, or talk radio hosts, or more editorial writers and the public generally, started following the asbestos issue a lot more.

I know, I know, it sounds like a snoozer issue, but like most issues, the more you get into it, the more interesting it gets.

In this situation, sick people are getting ripped off while healthy ones are enriched. 60 percent of the awards in asbestos lawsuits go to lawyers and court costs, not to plaintiffs, and 65 percent of the money that does reach plaintiffs goes to people who don't have a serious asbestos-related disease or disability.

Meanwhile, over 60 companies have gone bankrupt as a result of the lawsuits, putting tens of thousands out of work.

A number of Senators, including Hatch, Grassley, Kyl, Cornyn, Craig, Sessions and a few others, are trying to fix the system, but they are running up against trial lawyers (who like the system the way it is, thank you very much) and a Senate faux filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to get any contentious legislation approved (never mind that this requirement is not in the Constitution).

I believe that if more Americans knew what is going on, there would be more support for reform, and we just might get it. Asbestos victims would be far better off, and so would our economy.

If I've sold you on wanting to learn more, we have a new asbestos information page set up. Please consider visiting.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:05 PM

What Is New Source Review, Anyway? Two Views

You'll be hearing a lot about "New Source Review" in coming days, especially during the confirmation battle over Utah Governor Mike Leavitt's nomination to head the EPA.

Of course, only one in a zillion know what the term refers to, so here, as a public service, are two descriptions.

Here's what environmentalist Frank O'Donnell says it means, writing in the ultra-left
The issue is a pending Bush proposal to gut a Clean Air Act safeguard designed to prevent dirty old coal-fired power plants from polluting indefinitely. The current rules (known in the jargon as "new source review") require existing smokestack industries to add modern pollution controls when they make big changes that increase pollution. Eventually all the older plants must either clean up -- or shut down and be replaced by cleaner alternatives.
Here's what Mike Catanzaro of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee majority staff says it means, in an e-mail circulated August 25:
There are many facets to the NSR debate, all of which environmental groups distort, obfuscate, and confuse blithely and with abandon. One argument propagated by these groups is that NSR reform will allow so-called "grandfathered" power plants to continue to pollute at will. The Sierra Club, for example, says that in 1977, a "deal" was cut, in which existing facilities "only had to install pollution controls when they 'modified' their factories." This rather vague formulation suggests that, absent modification, such facilities faced no other pollution-control constraints. This is, to put it charitably, nonsense. Power plants are, and indeed have been for some time, subject to a myriad of stringent federal clean air regulations in addition to NSR, including, most importantly, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (the newest incarnation of which goes into effect next year) and the 1990 Acid Rain Program.

To assert that the Bush Administration's NSR reforms, which have been in the works for a decade, and which have support from all across the political spectrum, will result in dirtier air and more pollution is simply not true. Even if NSR were eliminated entirely, power plants would continue to reduce emissions under the law, as they have been doing for years (and, incidentally, if environmental groups stopped opposing it, the President's Clear Skies Initiative would bring about even greater emissions reductions, and over a shorter time frame, than under the existing Clean Air Act). The following exchange, from a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee NSR field hearing in 2000, illustrates the point rather succinctly:

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio): "Earlier today I was talking to someone and trying to get an understanding of what we're talking about here. And there is some understanding that when the Clean Air Act went into effect that we grandfathered in the pollution that was already being generated at the time, and that nothing has been done since that time to modify the facilities over that period. I'd like you to comment about even though some of the old facilities have been grandfathered, are they still spewing out the same emissions that were there when they were originally grandfathered? I would like you to comment on that."

Joe Bynum, Tennessee Valley Authority: "Absolutely not. In fact, that is a common misperception. As was discussed before, there are national ambient air quality standards, and we have to meet those national ambient air quality standards and those are met with modifications and met by the existing power plants that we have that have been so-called grandfathered. The Clean Air Act of 1990 which, through the acid rain portion, required additional reductions. Those were done with these fossil plants. Literally every plant in our system has had to do some type of change as far as scrubbers--all the way from scrubbers on some units down to fuel switches. But they all have been required to change some mode of operation in order to meet the new--not only the national air ambient quality standards but the acid rain legislation that was placed on top of that. So these facilities have not been exempt from that. In fact, these are the facilities that we have made the adjustments to that have been able to meet those requirements. We've reduced our SO2 by--or will have reduced it by 80 percent. By 2005 we will have reduced our NOx by 70 to 75 percent in the same timeframe on these units."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 PM

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Pizza Man Discriminates Against Germans, Is Jailed

The Danish restaurant owner who refused to serve French and German would-be customers because France and Germany opposed the war in Iraq is going to prison, according to this London Telegraph story.

Niels-Aage Bjerre was fined the equivalent of approximately $750 but says he will refuse to pay and instead will spend eight days in jail. He was convicted for discrimination against a German couple who ordered pizzas. When Bjerre learned the couple was German, he refunded their money and retrieved their pizzas.

Bjerre says the Danish courts are "traitors" because: "The judges have chosen to support those who do not support the official Danish position on the war against Iraq."

According to the Telegraph, Bjerre says he will end his boycott only "if the governments of France and Germany change their attitude toward the United States and support Washington wholeheartedly."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:52 PM

Saturday, August 23, 2003

U.N. Naiveté

A note from our Chris Burger:
Tuesday's suicide bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq killed at least 23 people. It has been reported that some of the guards at the headquarters were former Iraqi intelligence officials and might have assisted in the bombing.

Two questions come to mind: Why would the U.N. employ Saddam loyalists as security personnel? Second, why do liberals continue to demand that the U.N. dictate America's foreign policy? If it were not for the tragic nature of this situation, the ineptness of the U.N. would almost be comical. Notch up one more point for President Bush on why he was right to attack Saddam's sadistic regime with or without U.N. approval.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:58 PM

Schumer Blames Bush for Blackout While Energy Bill is Stalled in Schumer's Senate

In the Democrats' weekly radio address, NY Senator Charles Schumer has blamed George Bush for the blackout. Meanwhile, a comprehensive energy bill has been stalled in the Senate for two years.

Schumer, of course, serves in the Senate while Bush does not.

Bush's power to upgrade the energy grid all by himself is exceedingly limited.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:55 PM

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Do We Deserve a Ticket?

Matthew Craig makes a point I like very much in his new National Policy Analysis paper, Anti-SUV Activists Versus the American Family. That point is that liberal do-gooders are responsible for mandating air bags in cars, a development which made front seats unsafe for children under 12. Logically, then, families with four children will need, at minimum, a station wagon or SUV with a third row of seats, or a minivan. Families with three children or fewer will be able to travel in most sedans, but will have a strong incentive to buy a minvan or SUV/station wagon with a third row of seats because they are likely to want to be able to transport additional passengers, at least once in a while.

Station wagons, as we have said more than once, were largely pushed out of the market by environmentalist-supported corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Environmentalists and liberals who supported CAFE and airbags now decry the growth of the SUV/minivan market. But what did they expect?

At our house, we have two vehicles. One is a compact sedan and one is an SUV with a third row of seats. We have three three-year-olds, and the entire second row of seating is taken up with their three car seats. The backseat of our sedan is too narrow to hold three child car seats. There probably are some large sedans that could hold three car seats on one row, but had we bought one, we would not be able to transport any additional passangers, as we now can with our SUV. Was our SUV -- which, by our calculations, gets a bit over 20 mpg (EPA estimates are similar) -- purchase an immoral choice? Do we deserve a faux "ticket" from activist do-gooders?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:40 PM

More Newspapers Questioning Medicare Proposal

Newspapers are continuing to weigh-in on the Medicare proposal now under consideration by Congress. As the Heritage Foundation says: "The growing editorial chorus says the Medicare drug proposal now being worked on by a Capitol Hill committee is flawed and will cost taxpayers billions. The newspapers are liberal, moderate and conservative. But they all agree on this: The Medicare drug proposals must go."

All this was predicable. Medicare reform is too important to rush. Congress initially gave itself a few weeks for the entire job. Senators in committee voted on the Senate version without enough time to read it. Let's not waste this opportunity -- let's do this job right.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:26 PM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Gingrich Recommends 'Transformation' of Medicare

In this story by Jeff Johnson, former Speaker Newt Gingrich explains -- in full-blown Gingrichian style -- why Medicare should be transformed (not reformed, he says, transformed) from the current top-down federally controlled system to something based on the Federal Employee Health Benefit plan.

In shorter terms, why we should transform Medicare from something skin to socialized medicine to something based on the competititve plan Members of Congress and federal employees enjoy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:11 PM

What Happened Today in American History - Every Day

August 19th
A graduate of Georgetown University, he was a Rhodes Scholar before becoming the Governor of Arkansas and then America's 42nd President. In 1998, he became the 2nd president ever to be impeached. His original name was William Jefferson Blythe IV, born this day, August 19, 1946. At age 15, he took his stepfather's name Clinton. Also on this day, August 19, 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote to friend Peter Carr: "He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual... This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart."
That's today's version of "American Minute." I get one in my e-mail box each day. You can, too, by clicking here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:59 PM

Monday, August 18, 2003

Union Sues to Stop Pay Raise for Members

Here's an interesting story about a teachers' union filing suit against (Washington) state lawmakers to overturn a pay raise. Apparently, the union only wants raises for which it can claim credit.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:25 PM

He Positively Disagrees

My column on the blackouts is generating a lot of mail, some of which have astute observations I'll share later. This e-mail, however, is woth sharing simply because it is funny:
Well the only thing I can say about this article is that it illustrates two very basic concepts in America. One, is that we all have a right to our opinions and two, is that most of us would look a lot smarter keeping them to ourselves.

Dan Pratt
As they say, it is possible (and refreshing) to disagree without being disagreeable.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:08 AM

Friday, August 15, 2003

"Blackouts" Today, "Greenouts" Tomorrow -- Plus a Plug for Somebody Else was kind enough to publish my piece on the Great Blackout of 2003 as a guest column today. I take a look at the anti-energy policies of the leading environmentalist groups, because if we follow their advice, we'll have blackouts -- "greenouts" -- on a routine basis.

TownHall is really a great resource. I particularly like their daily What's New emails because, by reviewing a single email, you can pretty much see everything posted on every major website of the conservative movement over the previous day. A huge timesaver. Plus, if you only want to review new posts on particular topics, say, health care or defense, you can do that, too. They even archive everything in their Issues Library.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 PM

"Manhattan Was Beautiful in the Dark"

This wonderful George Mason University "Blackout Project" website contains personal stories and recollections of New York's famous power blackouts of 1965 ("The Night the Lights Went Out") and 1977. It's worth reading -- if you have enough electrical power to get online, that is.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:19 AM

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Eating, Having a Roof Over One's Head -- Definitely "Old Thinking"

There's a bizarre point of view from a Baltimore Sun editorial:
Three-term Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt... wants to balance "an inherent human responsibility to protect the earth" with "an economic imperative... to do it less expensively."

This philosophy sets off alarm bells.

As administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Leavitt would be charged with enforcing national clean air and clean water standards established by Congress in the 1970s because state and local governments weren't doing the job.

As for balance, the term implies an inevitable trade-off between environmental quality and economic growth -- i.e., how much devastation are we willing to tolerate for how many jobs?

If that's Mr. Leavitt's mindset, it's old thinking, and it's unacceptable.
Yeah, sure, Baltimore Sun. Its "old-thinking" to consider a proposed government policy's impact on jobs.

We bet that's not the Sun's position when it editorializes on unemployment.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:41 PM

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Environmentalists: Not Seeing the Forests Because of their Hatred for Those Who Cut Trees

Mike Catanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff has just circulated the following analysis about the environmental left's criticism of President Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative:
True to form, environmental extremists have done nothing but complain bitterly about the President's Healthy Forests Initiative, which was introduced in August of 2002. These groups have no meaningful alternative to protecting forests or property (NRDC says, with callous indifference, that catastrophic forest fires are simply inevitable--they're not, by the way--so people should buy inflammable roofing). They prefer making politically charged sound bites instead of working with the President to implement concrete solutions to a very serious environmental problem.

The President's trip to Summerhaven, Arizona sparked the usual rhetorical pabulum from the usual suspects. Interestingly, complaints leveled by these groups look quite similar in tone and content, showing a remarkable effort at message coordination, designed no doubt for fundraising purposes:

* "The Bush-backed measure does not provide the funding needed to protect communities and instead uses the fear of fire to gut bedrock environmental laws and tip the scales of justice in our courts." Wilderness Society's Gary Kozel

* "It's clearly and blatantly being done to allow the timber industry to once again elevate logging levels in our national forests, and the primary justification is building upon this public hysteria of fire." Brian Segee, Tucson's Center for Biological Diversity.

* "Wilderness and roadless areas are too valuable to be handed over to the logging industry in the name of 'fuel reduction.'" Wilderness Society President William H. Meadows.

* "To the Sierra Club it looks more like a logging plan -- one that aims to gut the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) in the process." Sierra Club

* "The administration is asking Congress to torch our most basic environmental protections in the guise of fire prevention." Natural Resources Defense Council

Do these charges have any grounding in fact? One might ask: where is the proof of a timber industry-cum-Bush Administration conspiracy? In Arizona, there is essentially no logging industry left: there are two very small mills, and the Apache Indian Reservation has two mills of its own. And further, where is the proof showing exactly how environmental laws are being "gutted"? Among other things, the Administration is using categorical exclusions, based on scientific peer review, to expedite catastrophic-fire-preventing thinning projects. Those exclusions are an EXISTING part of NEPA.

Healthy Forests isn't about logging or the timber industry, but about protecting forests and people's homes. It is about preventing Arizona's Rodeo-Chediski fire, whose path of destruction equaled about 60 percent of the size of Rhode Island, from happening again. And it is about preventing frivolous, baseless litigation sponsored by extremist groups, which is a major contributing factor to the recent spate of catastrophic fires.

Kate Klein, a 49-year-old district manager with the U.S. Forest Service, and someone who once considered herself part of the "environmental movement," agrees. As she told the Smithsonian magazine (August 2003 edition), the legal obstructionism of environmental extremists, who systematically stopped attempts to thin Arizona's Black Mesa forest district, which Klein manages, caused a massive wildfire that left a swath of desolation, killing everything, animal species included, that got in its way.

Klein blames the Center for Biological Diversity, who blocked thinning repeatedly, for the fire. Her reaction is worth recounting in full: "If we had done all this thinning we wanted to over the years, we could have kept this fire from exploding, and we could have saved the towns it burned through. All those arguments we heard about how 'your timber sale is going to destroy Mexican spotted owl habitat,' 'your timber sale is going to destroy the watershed.' And our timber sale wouldn't have had a fraction of the effect a severe wildfire has. It doesn't scorch the soil, it doesn't remove all the trees, it doesn't burn up all the forage. And then to hear their statements afterward! There was no humility, no acceptance of responsibility, no acknowledgment that we had indeed lost all this habitat that they were concerned about. All they could do was point their finger at us and say it was our fault."
Also check out Forest Science Professor Tom Bonnicksen's piece written for us last year, Tree Huggers or Fire Huggers? The Environmental Movement's Confused Forest Policy. Dr. Bonnicksen says: "Restoring historic forests is easy, but success requires working with the private sector. People who make their living from forests have the skill and desire to help. It would take little public funding since restored forests would come close to supporting themselves from the sale of wood products. Restoration is a cost-effective and safe way to protect our forests and solve the wildfire crisis."

Environmentalists don't accept this advice, sound as it is.

In my view: some environmentalists are so busy hating corporations (“Big Wood?”), they've forgotten they are supposed to love the environment.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:53 PM

The Scientific Method

An email to our foundation that caught my eye:
Obviously you know that your site offers the opposite extreme as greenpeace, rendering it as an equally uncredible source of news about the environment.

Frank Cruz
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Penn State
Hmmm.... Should we lie about the facts and our conclusions so we can artificially agree with Greenpeace about half the time, thereby -- apparently -- rendering ourselves credible? I don't think so...

Does Penn State not teach the scientific method?

This e-mail reminds me of all those -- pardon my frankness -- idiotic journalists who claim they can't possibly be biased in their reporting because they get complaint letters from both sides of the political spectrum. What worries me about those people is that, as journalists, they have influence over society, yet they seem to believe accuracy can be determined by counting complaints. One wonders -- biased or not -- how they can possibly be competent.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 PM

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Bush Picks Utah Governor to Head EPA; AP Runs Biased Story

An extremely biased opening paragraph in an Associated Press story about President Bush's selection of Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to head the EPA:
President Bush chose Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt on Monday to head the Environmental Protection Agency, turning to another Republican governor to be his voice on an issue where his record with voters is weak.
Another paragraph in the story opines:
Leavitt, 52, has championed the idea of increasing environmental cooperation among federal, state, and local officials. The environmental issues he has focused on have mostly concerned public lands — experience that would seem more suited to running the Interior Department than the EPA.
The article quoted two outside commentators on the appointment: both environmentalists critical of the administration.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:42 AM

Monday, August 11, 2003

No Wonder Taxes Are So High

The kids and I were driving west on Rt. 32 in Maryland's Anne Arundel County this evening and passed 8 highway construction workers. One was working and 7 were standing around.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:57 PM

Where Prescription Drugs Come From

Rich Tucker of the Heritage Foundation answers that question in this commentary on

Hint: They don't come from Canada.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:26 AM

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Majority of Hispanics Pro-Life

A new poll is showing that a majority of Hispanics, now the nation's largest minority, are pro-life.

According to a July 13-27 New York Times/CBS poll (as reported on, 44 percent of Hispanics now say abortion should not be permitted, while 33 percent say it should be permitted with strict limits.

The same article says a May Latino Opinion poll of Hispanics found that "Seventy-five percent took one of three pro-life positions opposing all or almost all abortions. They said abortion should either never be legal (27%), legal only when the life of the mother is in danger (25%), or only in cases of rape or incest or when the mother's life is in danger (23%)."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:12 PM

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Technically Bankrupt in Five Years

Thomas R. Saving of the National Center for Policy Analysis told the Senate Special Committee on Aging on July 29 that taxpayers will have to begin bailing out Social Security and Medicare with transfers from income taxes as early as 2008.

The stark truth: We can't afford these programs unless we reform them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM

Who Pays Income Taxes... And Who Pretty Much Is Off the Hook

According to the National Taxpayer's Union and NTU Foundation on its website, the top 5 percent of all taxpayers pay 56.47 percent of all federal income taxes. The top ten percent pays 67.3 percent; the top quarter 84.01 percent and the top half a whopping 96.09 percent of all federal income taxes.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:38 PM

Friday, August 08, 2003

What Do Rockefellers Have Against Bathrooms, Anyway?

The Fox News Channel ran a story last night on something covered in this blog July 31: The DC PBS affiliate's protest against the construction of a building to house services -- such as a bathroom -- for Hispanic day laborers. The building was to be located next door to PBS studios in suburban Washington, DC.

PBS has lost, despite head Sharon Percy Rockefeller's complaint to the Arlington County, VA board that the big shot guests who visit the PBS studios might be distressed by the proximity of immigrant workers. The workers will get their facility and soon will enjoy access to a rest room. PBS guests, I suppose, will just have to avert their eyes while walking between their air conditioned cars and the lobby, lest their discomfiture adversely affect their ability to radiate ponderous moral authority on PBS broadcasts.

Mrs. Rockfeller is the wife of West Virginia Senator (and ex-Governor) Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, a state in the top five for homes without complete bathroom facilities. Maybe that's no coincidence.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:04 PM

Everything You Wanted to Know About Asbestos... In Ten Minutes or Less

The asbestos liability crisis is one of those issues that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. It deserves attention because part of the issue involves people dying painful deaths who are getting -- pardon the word -- screwed, often by the very lawyers who supposedly should be helping them. (Where are the producers of Erin Brockovich when it comes to this aspect of law?) It also deserves attention because it is costing our economy a fortune -- the kind of fortune (hundreds of billions of dollars) -- that causes unemployment on a grand scale (tens of thousands now; maybe 100 times that later, if we don't do something soon).

Why mention this today, August 8, on a date when everyone else is talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger? Because I've just come across a superbly written succinct explanation of what all of this is about on FindLaw.

So, if you have been wondering what the asbestos crisis is about and how we might solve it, but don't want to spend a whole lot of time on this issue, I recommend these two short pieces by Brooklyn Law Professor Anthony J. Sebok. Part one is here; part two is here.

They are short, I promise.

After you read those pieces, if you still want to know more, I’ll modestly recommend a couple of the short papers I've written on the topic. The latest, about Senator hatch's work for a solution, is here, one from earlier this year about the magnitude of the problem is here. A new one is forthcoming; when we post it on the web, I’ll note its web address here in the blog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:32 AM

Thursday, August 07, 2003

NAACP to Black Civil Rights Attorney: Shut Up

On July 30, under the headline "Me White, Me Dumb," I differed with a Fox News Channel guest who opined that whites can't teach black history because white people aren't capable of understanding what it is like to be black and to be stopped by a policeman. I thought then, and I still do, that this thesis is nonsense.

I didn't identify the guest, but he was trial lawyer Leo Terrell. Today, Mr. Terrell is in the Wall Street Journal for another reason: he's resigned from the NAACP because, he says, the NAACP told him not to publicly share his true opinions about Carolyn Kuhl. Kuhl is a Bush appointee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is one of the many Bush judicial appointees who have not been confirmed by the Senate despite impressive resumes and much praise from those who know them.

Senate Democrats are using the modern-day version of the filibuster -- a "silent filibuster" that creates the procedural fiction that a Senator is speaking longer than is biologically possible, thus forcing Senators to garner 60 votes to halt the filibuster before voting on whatever is in question -- to prevent votes on Bush nominees. The NAACP is supporting this obstructionist tactic. Thus, it is inconvenient that Mr. Terrell, an outspoken black attorney, has been publicly supportive of Judge Kuhl's nomination.

The Wall Street journal editorial today writes:
Mr. Terrell is a California attorney who has donated many hours of work to the NAACP, representing litigants and participating in seminars on discrimination. Mr. Terrell, who is black, has been outspoken in his support of Judge Kuhl, who sits on the California Superior Court in Los Angeles and before whom he appeared in 1999. "I found that Judge Kuhl was fair, impartial, competent and at all times extremely professional," he wrote in a May 23, 2001, letter to fellow Californian and fellow Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer. Mr. Terrell repeated those points to us yesterday, adding that the NAACP is buying in to "phony allegations that she is hostile to civil rights." We'd add that the once great civil-rights group is also playing political enforcer for a hyper-partisan Senate minority.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 PM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Larry Flynt, Man to Ignore

In this Marc Morano story, Larry Flynt calls on the nation to pray for Bill O'Reilly's death. Flynt complains that O'Reilly shuts off people's microphones, so Flynt thinks a logical response is to give O'Reilly the ultimate dead mike.

More likely, Flynt just wants attention. Let's ignore him instead.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:24 PM

Better to Be a Role Model Than a Litigant

Blog readers will recall a report by Jeff Gannon of Talon News that former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk is suing a 20-year-old website operator for calling Abourezk a "traitor." Now comes a story by Gannon that Abourezk admits telling "everybody who would listen to me" that former South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler is gay.

The allegation regarding Pressler, which came at the time of Pressler's last political campaign and which has been denied by Pressler, came from a book by Alexander Cockburn that was subsequently removed from publication in a settlement with Pressler.

Abourezk, who is half a century older than the young man he is suing, might consider becoming a role model instead of a plaintiff.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:32 AM

Monday, August 04, 2003

"Items Were Stored Where Anyone Could Help Themselves," Says State Employee About Missing Government Property

On July 12, referencing a story about federal government employees using government credit cards to get themselves tatoos, I mentioned my frustration that government agencies aren't aggressively self-audited the way many think-tanks (including the National Center) are.

This story from Baltimore's WBAL-TV shows the problem at a different level of government. Says a Maryland state employee about state government property, much of it missing: "Items were stored where anyone could help themselves..." Another one says: "This is a mess..." A third says: ""A dishwasher and dental chair may be stored in an old snake-infested barn, but [I] won't check [because it's] too dangerous to inventory."

Bob Erlich, the new governor of Maryland, does not have an easy job. I have no idea why he wanted it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:20 PM

Bush Meeting with Jesse Jackson Draws Mixed Reviews from Black Conservatives

According to an article by Kenneth Timmerman appearing on WorldNet Daily and in Insight magazine, several black conservatives, including Niger Innis of CORE, are upset that President Bush has met privately with Jesse Jackson (Innis: "This amounts to aiding and abetting a hustler who has been exposed and is a total repudiation of people like my father, Roy Innis, who have been fighting for a positive cause for years.") Others, including Project 21's Kevin Martin, think the meeting was a savvy move for Bush (Martin calls it spending 15 minutes to take away one of Jackson's "temper-tantrum toys," adding "Bush came away from this meeting the bigger man. He played Jackson like the fiddle that he was. It was a good political move.").

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 AM

Saturday, August 02, 2003

I'm Cold, Uninformed and Void of Compassion... And Unrepentant

A dissent to my July 18 blog entry about the Washington Post's coverage of a murder-suicide case in which a mother killed her toddler son:
Dear Ms. Ridenour,
On reading your reaction to the suicide of Reetika Vazirani, I wonder what makes you so sure your comments aren't hurtful. I find them cold, uninformed, and void of compassion. It's clear that the Washington Post published limited information of the tragedy to avoid dragging family members through more grief by quizzing them on whether or not Jehan Vazirani Komunyakaa had a dimple when he smiled. It's my guess this information is not automatically on file @ the Post and they had the good taste not to disturb people in a terrible time of grief. Besides which, personal information should not always be up for public consumption. The Post did their job, which was to report the facts. Who can know what's in another person's heart? Who can know what drives people to do the mad things they do? It is not for us to judge, but to react with compassion for all.
Heidi Snodgrass
First, thank you for writing and for reading the blog. I mean that sincerely.

In all sincerity, also, I hope my comments are disturbing to the authors and editors of the Washington Post piece that repeatedly praised the killer while sparing scant attention for the child victim.

I believe the "it is not for us to judge" attitude helps lead to situations such as the one we discuss today. I will always, always, always be willing to judge the matter of the murder of a two-year-old child as wrong, wrong, wrong.

I also strongly suspect -- I cannot tell for sure, since this Post account and a subsequent Post follow-up ignored these issues, and for obvious reasons I have not telephoned the surviving family and friends to ask -- that the other adults in this child's life wrongly left him vulnerable. The Post tells us the killer phoned a friend hours before the deaths and said she might hurt herself. The friend presumably knew a toddler was in this woman's care. Why not call 911? Was the killer-to-be known for this sort of behavior? If so, why was a child left alone in her care?

Which leads me to my next bout of rampant judgementalism: Where the hell was Daddy? Whether the killer acted from evil impulses or mental problems or both, they presumably were apparent to other adults, especially her spouse, before the day the boy was killed.

These are questions the Post should have asked. Instead it asked about poetry.

You may ask what good it does to say all this, because little Jehan Vazirani Komunyakaa is still dead. Here's what good it does: the remote chance that someone who reads this someday knows someone who could do this, and realizes the need to take action to prevent tragedy. This tragedy was preventable. So is the next one.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:43 PM

Hurricane Shelia

From David Almasi:
The civil rights struggle has brought equality to America, but apparently not enough for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). She wants the names of hurricanes to be more ethnically diverse, according to a 7/9 article in The Hill. Project 21 member Geoffrey Moore has commented to me: "Is this a joke? Aren't there more pertinent problems than the ethnicity of hurricane names and the Confederate flag?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:10 PM


There is a hilarious piece on National Review Online by Jennifer Nicholson Graham about her one and only telephone call to the Rush Limbaugh Show.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:08 PM

Friday, August 01, 2003

We Know Environmentalists Don't Like Drivers Much, But This is Ridiculous

According to the Consumer Electronics Industry Association, 59 percent of all people who listen to the radio are in a vehicle.

Ponder that fact when you consider the opening line of the Nature Conservancy's new radio commercial:
Close your eyes for a moment. Now imagine you're away from it all, beside a crystal clear mountain stream. The cool grass crunches under foot. Take a deep breath and drink in the sound of water cascading over the stones as birds call out from above. A real paradise like this isn't easy to come by. But it does still exist. And with your help, places like this one can last forever. You see, The Nature Conservancy works locally with communities, businesses and people like you to preserve the most precious natural places around the world. They protect the animals that live there. The plants that grow there. And even the water. That way, this beautiful place will be beautiful forever. And we'll make sure that closing your eyes will never be the only way to get there. I'm Paul Newman. Help The Nature Conservancy save the Last Great Places.
Hubby David heard this on the radio Thursday night as he drove home from a trip to Pittsburgh.

I'm very glad he ignored Paul Newman's advice, and made it safely home instead.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:31 PM

$100 of My Personal Money to the First to Show the Post is Right on This Item, And I'm Wrong

From the Washington Post, page one, August 1: "...a study of more than 16,000 people from every inhabited continent found that men everywhere -- whether single, married or gay -- want more sexual partners than women do."

$100 to the first person who can identify a gay person who is neither single nor married.

Kudos to anyone who can explain if the Post's phrasing is bias or sloppy writing. Either way, guys, a little editing, please?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:04 PM

Quagmire II

Ed Haislmaier got a good chuckle out of this satire, "Left Coast Quagmire," from the August 1 James Taranto Best of the Web. I did, too.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:59 PM

Mailbag Regarding Buffalo Soldiers

Mail about Project 21's protest of the name of the Film "Buffalo Soldiers":
To whom it may concern,

I just read Michael King's comments on about the Congressional Black Caucus' silence regarding the film "Buffalo Soldiers.” I could not agree more and I am actively protesting this film. I am ready to stand outside of every movie theater to prevent people from patronizing this film. Below is my own protest paper to this film. I have sent it to a range of people. It is my hope that we will make a difference.

When this film is nationally released, if anyone in your organization would like to stand with me, I will be more than willing.

Once Again, the Unsung Heroes are Forgotten

On Friday, July 25th, Miramax released a film in LA and NYC called "Buffalo Soldiers." From all accounts, this film is a "black comedy" about soldiers at an Army base in Germany in the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The main character enlisted in the Army to avoid doing jail time and is running a black market business on the base, including heroin. Adapted from the Robert O’Connor book of the same title, this film is intended to be a satire of Army life. The soldiers in this film are often stoned, violent and unremorseful about their escapades. Jack Matthews of the Daily News writes, “the tone of Buffalo Soldiers is all over the place… more often sinister.” He also writes that “the underlying premise is that Army bases are a microcosm of the inner-city life, the expense-paid refuges of scoundrels.”

There are absolutely NO references in the film to the history of the real Buffalo Soldiers, black soldiers who fought for and protected the Western settlers after the Civil War. There are absolutely NO references in the film to the Buffalo badge of honor that WWI and WWII Black soldiers wore to symbolically link themselves to their heroic ancestors. There are absolutely NO references in the film to the fact that it was the Native Americans who authored the name “Buffalo Soldiers” because they revered the buffalo and respected the soldiers’ bravery and determination.

I had an email debate with one of the writers of this film. When I asked her if she had considered the true history of the Buffalo Soldiers and the attitudes of the African-American community when she wrote this film, she gave no reply. She used freedom of speech as her justification for dismissing a significant part of American history. And although the book by Robert O’Connor contains several references to the title, NONE of these references are included in this film.

My heart has been broken by this issue, particularly after hearing the reviews by Ebert and Roeper who also fail to mention the history of the original Buffalo Soldiers. I do applaud, however, Nancy Millar, a reviewer for JANE magazine who not only refuses to review the film, since it has nothing to do with the Buffalo Soldiers, but even goes on to reference, Cathay Williams, the only female Buffalo Soldier who disguised herself as a man so that she could fight.

In 2003, the African-American experience is still forgotten. Worse yet, it has been appropriated by an author and filmmakers for their own gain without any regard for the impact on the African-American community. The irony from this is that the film’s release had been originally scheduled for September 11, 2001, but was delayed because of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The film release was later delayed because of the subsequent wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

I IMPLORE you to take a stand. Artistic expression cannot justify the vilification of the honorable memory of these soldiers. This film has not yet been released nationwide. You can make a difference. You can email directly one of the writers named below with your viewpoints or contact Miramax with your views. You can forward this letter to your friends, family, and colleagues making them aware of this issue. Also, distribute it at churches, stores, and even movie theaters. But most importantly, DO NOT PATRONIZE THIS FILM. It is an insult to our soldiers of the past and our soldiers of the present.

Thank you for your support.

Tara Phillips
Granddaughter of a REAL Buffalo Soldier

Nora Maccoby, screenwriter on Buffalo Soldiers
[email protected]

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:51 PM

Drugs Again

Good article on on the opinions of Merrill Matthews (Institute for Policy Innovation) and Bob Moffit (Heritage Foundation) on the Medicare/prescription drug price debates.

Meanwhile, their main page has a poll: Do you think prescription drug re-importation poses a public health risk? Respondents seemed evenly split when I voted, save 6 percent, who had no idea.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:28 PM

C-SPAN to Broadcast Reparations Speech

A note David Almasi asked me to pass along:
A speech by Project 21 National Advisory Council member and nationally syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock on the topic of slave reparations is scheduled to be broadcast by C-Span 1 on Saturday, August 2 at 9:15pm and Sunday, August 3 at 12:15am. The speech, entitled “Reparations: A Dumb and Dangerous Idea,” was delivered this past March at Canisus College.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:38 AM

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