masthead-highres

Friday, October 31, 2003

Important Enough to Obstruct, But Not Important Enough to Vote On

From National Center executive director David W. Almasi:
Utah Governor Mike Leavitt was finally confirmed to become the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on October 28. He was confirmed by a vote of 88-8, with four members not present.

That's a pretty wide margin of victory for Leavitt and the Bush Administration, but the way in which it came shows how Senate liberals are abusing the legislative rules to take out their aggression on the President.

The first time Leavitt was scheduled for a vote in the Environment and Public Works Committee, minority members boycotted the meeting -- thus denying committee chairman James Inhofe a quorum. Leavitt was also deluged with questions and legislative holds on the nomination, common precursors to a filibuster.

After the Bush Administration made some concessions and took some lumps of criticism, the liberals dropped their holds and filibuster threat and the vote when through with overwhelming support. Bush's nominees to the appeals courts are facing filibusters of the sort threatened against Leavitt, but they have not been as lucky. Some nominees have been waiting since May of 2001 for the courtesy of an up or down vote in the Senate, but are being denied by liberal filibusters. Most, if not all, would easily be confirmed if they were brought up for the vote. One nominee, Miguel Estrada, withdrew his nomination rather than continue this debasement of democracy.

Four senators didn't vote. To really turn up the hypocrisy level on all of this, those four included John Edwards amd Joe Lieberman -- who both had holds on the nomination.

Important enough to obstruct, but not important to actually come out and vote on, eh?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 PM

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Sakharov's Widow Speaks Up in Battle for Russia's Future

Another excellent report today from the Washington Post about the struggle within the Kremlin between the pro-Western reformers and the former KGB. Here's just one excerpt:
"Several prominent human rights advocates described the billionaire as a political prisoner. 'I think that any person becomes a political prisoner if the law is applied to him selectively, and this is an absolutely clear case to me,' Yelena Bonner, widow of the legendary dissident Andrei Sakharov, told Ekho Moskvy radio. 'This is a glaringly lawless action.' "

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:54 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I Know Worrying About Russia is an 80s Thing, But Indulge Me

The Washington Post is saying it better than I can:
Washington Post, 10-27-03:

"...Khodorkovsky had the additional misfortune of being the last surviving oligarch. For those who have not kept up their Russian, 'oligarch' is a term of art for 'rich Jews' who made their money in the massive privatization of Soviet assets in the early 1990s. It is still not a good thing to be a successful Jew in historically anti-Semitic Russia.

Since Putin was elected president in 2000, every major figure exiled or arrested for financial crimes has been Jewish. In dollar terms, we are witnessing the largest illegal expropriation of Jewish property in Europe since the Nazi seizures during the 1930s.

Unfortunately, the implications of Khodorkovsky's arrest go beyond the suppression of democratic voices and the return of official anti-Semitism. This arrest must be seen in the context of increasingly aggressive, military and extrajudicial actions in Ukraine, Moldova, the South Caucasus and Chechnya. In the past month, Putin has demanded that Ukraine sign a concessionary economic treaty; Russian intelligence services have been detected behind election irregularities in Azerbaijan and Georgia and in influence-peddling in Moldova and Abkhazia; and Russian gunboats have confronted the Ukrainian Coast Guard in an illegal attempt to seize a valuable commercial waterway.

For the balance of his first term, Putin has skillfully taken advantage of America's necessary preoccupations with the war on terrorism and the liberation of Iraq. Now Moscow and the capitals of Eastern Europe are watching carefully to see how Washington responds to this latest crackdown. If the United States fails to take a hard line in response to such a high-visibility arrest, chauvinists in the Russian Ministry of Defense and the FSB will correctly conclude that there will be no meaningful response to the reestablishment of a neo-imperial sphere of influence in the new democracies to Russia's south and west. In addition to the expected Cold War thuggery and opportunistic financial seizures, we should expect that the new powers in Russia will rig the crucial elections in Ukraine and Georgia next year and continue to prop up the brutal dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.

Finally, the incarceration of one man in Moscow's notorious Matrosskaya Tishina Prison poses painful questions for U.S. policy. It is now impossible to argue that President Bush's good-faith efforts at personal diplomacy with Putin have produced democratic outcomes. Indeed, each of Putin's visits to the Crawford ranch and Camp David has been followed by the cynical curtailment of democratic freedom inside Russia. While it remains unclear what positive qualities Bush detected in Putin's soul during their famous meeting in Slovenia, it is abundantly clear that this is the 'soul' of a would-be Peter the Great."

Washington Post, 10-27-03:

"Mr. Khodorkovsky stands out in Russia because he has made his company and its books more transparent than had any of his rivals. Though the origins of his empire are shady, he is, in some ways, Russia's first real capitalist -- and like a real capitalist, he hasn't hesitated to participate openly in the democratic system by donating money to political parties, including those who oppose Mr. Putin. Putting him under arrest sends a clear signal to other Russians that no one is safe from arbitrary prosecution, or from the political whims of the Kremlin.

It's also a signal that the Russian government cares far more about destroying its rivals than it does about genuinely improving the Russian economy. In recent months, there were signs that capital flight from Russia had stabilized, as Russian businessmen slowly began to feel more confident in the country's legal system. Following Mr. Khodorkovsky's arrest, the stock market crashed and the Russian ruble plunged, as rumors of new capital flight abounded. Large investors, including Western oil companies, may be confident they have enough Kremlin connections to stay in the country, but smaller investors are now more likely to stay away.

The Bush administration's reaction to this arrest may determine whether it sticks. Just a few weeks ago, President Bush endorsed 'President Putin's vision for Russia: a country . . . in which democracy and freedom and rule of law thrive.' It's hard to see how President Putin's 'vision' can include the rule of law if it also includes arbitrary prosecution. Certainly there are some within the administration who believe that a Russian strategic decision to start rolling back democracy and the rule of law will undermine the Russian-American relationship. But the president himself must now recognize that that is what now may be happening. Mr. Bush may be unable to persuade his friend Vladimir to behave differently, but it is vital that he try. The preservation of democracy in Russia is more than an ideal; it is a crucial U.S. interest."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:25 PM

You Be The Judge

Putin says his #1 concerns are establishing the rule of law and economic development. You be the judge.
Financial Times, 10/27/03

The Moscow stock market plunged more than 10 per cent on Monday after the arrest of the head of Yukos, the oil major, prompted fears about investing in the country - just one week after the market hit an all-time high. The arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Yukos chief executive, on Saturday morning and the seven charges brought against him by the Kremlin, ranging from tax fraud to theft against the state, rattled investor sentiment.

Pravda, 10-27-03:

"The arrest of YUKOS head Mikhail Khodorkovsky will result in a 20-percent fall on the domestic stock market this week, stock analysts reported ..."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:22 PM

Monday, October 27, 2003

Poll Results on Limbaugh Nearly Unanimous

Speaking of WMAL, here's a report from their website about the reaction fo Rush Limbaugh's fans to news of his drug dependency:
By a nearly unanimous margin, Rush Limbaugh's listeners are sticking with the nation's No. 1 talk radio host, despite his current absence from the airwaves and recent admission that he is addicted to prescription painkillers.

In a survey of Limbaugh's audience conducted last weekend for Critical Mass Media by Burke Incorporated, an independent polling firm, more than nine out of ten listeners said that news of Limbaugh's drug dependency had not diminished their regard for him. Indeed, 22% of those questioned said they had gained respect for Rush "because of the way he is handling his problems," while only 8% said they had less respect for him.

An overwhelming 95% of the sample agreed that "Rush is human, he has made mistakes, and is entitled to a second chance with a clean slate." And more than 99% of those surveyed said they expected the show to be just as good if not better when Limbaugh returns.

Limbaugh continues to inspire enormous trust among his listeners. When asked to rate on a scale of one to 10 how much trust they "usually have" in Limbaugh (one being "no trust" and 10 being "complete trust") roughly half of those questioned put him at 9 or 10. His mean score among the entire sample was an impressive 8.2. When respondents were asked how much they will trust Limbaugh when he returns to the airwaves, the numbers were virtually identical....
There's more, but you get the idea.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 PM

Up Next: And He Was Allowed to Vote, Although He Is A White Male

An on-air reporter for WMAL Radio, a good station I listen to a lot, had an odd bit of news early this afternoon.

Reporting on an incident in Fairfax County, Virginia in which unknown vandals spray-painted cars, apparently at random, with swastikas and other things, the reporter noted that the authorities plan to investigate the vandalism, even though "all the victims are white males."

It is good to know that white males are still entitled to the protection of the laws, but it is disturbing to learn that's newworthy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:15 PM

NY Times: Still Smokin'

A New York Times editorial today says you can massively restrict energy production in the United States without killing even one job.

Yeah, right.

The New York Times staff apparently still is smoking the same stuff Stalin gave Timesman Walter Duranty back in the 1930s.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2003

AP: U.S. Warns of Trouble for Russia After Putin's Latest Move

The United States government is criticizing the Putin regime in a reasonably strong statement (by diplomatic standards) today, says the Associated Press.

The AP reports the arrest of the head of Russia's largest oil company, Yukos, in what are widely believed to be trumped-up political charges (the company contributes to two Russian political parties unaffiliated with Putin) will have significant negative ramifications for Russia's economy.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow was quoted speculating that Russia law is being used selectively to silence and inimidate critics of Putin. He also implied he was speaking for higher authorities in the U.S. government, saying Sunday that Washington "was disturbed by the escalation of tensions around Yukos" and concerned that "after these occurrences new doubts will arise among foreign companies that work in the Russian market and also among potential investors."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:28 PM

Saturday, October 25, 2003

When It Seems Like the Bad Old Days, Maybe It Is

Breaking news in Russia that seems to tell us a lot -- none of it positive -- about Vladimir Putin's commitment to democratic values and the rule of law. This exerpt is part of a long Associated Press report Saturday:
Russian authorities charged the country's wealthiest man and the chief of its largest oil producer with fraud and tax evasion yesterday, the culmination of a sweeping investigation decried by many leading business and political leaders as Kremlin-orchestrated and politically motivated.

Shortly before dawn, Russian special forces in black uniforms stormed Mikhail Khodorkovsky's private jet moments after it landed in Siberia, shouting, 'FSB, put your weapons down or we'll shoot.'

FSB is the abbreviation for the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB....

Khodorkovsky's arrest sent shudders through Russia's business community and renewed troubling questions about the Kremlin's commitment to a rule-of-law approach to governance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly promised Russians that he would steer the country toward democracy and foster conditions for its growth as a free-market economy. But the four-month investigation into Khodorkovsky's Yukos Oil has been widely viewed as the Kremlin's ham-handed way of reining in Khodorkovsky's political activities..."
There is a lot more, and it is worth reading.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:55 PM

Friday, October 24, 2003

Senate Democrats to Seniors: We Don't Care What You Like

Senate Democrats say the conservative plan to give seniors health care as good as that enjoyed by Members of Congress is the one thing that could destroy Medicare.

First, that's either a reflection of stupidity or an intentional lie, as bankruptcy would destroy it pretty well.

But beyond that, the only way Medicare could be "destroyed" by seniors flocking to the alternatives conservatives want to offer is if seniors LIKE the other options better.

So what the Democrats are saying essentially is that they don't give a darn what seniors want.

No surprise here, but infuriating anyway.

And let's reflect for a second on what the Democrats are saying. They are saying that can't countenance anything that would lead to the American people not needing or wanting a government program. Tells us a lot about their priorities, doesn't it?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:09 AM

McCain-Lieberman: It's No Stimulous Plan

Another timely and valuable note sent over by Mike Catanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff:
According to a number of indicators -- GDP growth, a stock market surge, productivity gains, stable prices -- the economy is roaring back to life. Thus it would be useful to assess just how the Lieberman-McCain global warming bill would affect the recovery, and the long-term health of the economy more generally.

Below is an assessment of current economic conditions compared with analyses of S. 139, the Climate Change Stewardship Act, by the Energy Information Administration and the Congressional Budget Office. As the assessment shows, S. 139, contrary to its most ardent champions, would negatively impact everything from taxes and employment, trade and manufacturing, as well as investment and federal deficits.

TAXES

EIA on S. 139: The Lieberman-McCain bill will reduce GDP by $106 billion. That amounts to a tax increase of about $1,000 on every American household.

Ken Mayland, economist with Clearview Economics, quoted in the Oct. 16 edition of the Washington Post: "You give consumers a tax cut and they'll spend it. That's the way America works."

The Joint Economic Committee, Oct. 16 report on the economy: "Consumption has been a sector consistently supporting the economy in recent years."

EMPLOYMENT

EIA on S. 139: The bill would cause drastic reductions in coal use, resulting in the elimination of over 50,000 coal industry jobs.

The Washington Post: "The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 57,000 payroll jobs, reversing the long slide that has confounded a broader economic recovery."

MANUFACTURING/TRADE

EIA on S. 139: The price of natural gas would increase 16 percent in 2010 and 46 percent in 2025. The effect? Manufacturing industries "participate in highly competitive international markets and would be expected to lose markets if domestic energy prices increase relative to foreign energy prices."

The Associated Press, Oct. 21: "One of the key complaints of American manufacturers is that China is undervaluing its currency, giving Chinese products a competitive advantage against U.S. manufactured goods of as much as 40 percent."

CONSUMER SPENDING

EIA on S. 139: "Because of lower real disposable income resulting from higher prices for energy, consumers will reduce overall spending and savings. Energy services also represent a key input in the production of goods and services. As energy prices increase, the costs of production rise, placing upward pressure on the nominal prices of all intermediate goods and final goods and services in the economy, with widespread impacts on spending across many markets."

The Joint Economic Committee, Oct. 16 report on the economy: "Consumption growth increased sharply in the fourth quarter of 2001 and was a major factor boosting real GDP for that and subsequent quarters."

Richard Yamarone, economist with Argus Research: "Consumers are really supporting the expansion with a voracious appetite for spending."

INVESTMENT

CBO: "A cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions could impose significant costs on the economy in the form of welfare losses...Welfare losses are real costs to the economy in that they would not be recovered elsewhere in the form of higher income. Those losses would be borne by people in their roles as shareholders, consumers, and workers...Losses to industry--in the form of lower stock values--would be broadly distributed among investors, to the extent that they have diversified portfolios."

The Washington Times, Oct. 10: "Major stock indexes, buoyed by declining unemployment and booming sales at the nation's department stores, yesterday climbed to their highest levels of the year, marking the first anniversary of a new bull market...Wall Street analysts say the year-long bull run has at least interrupted - and may possibly have ended - the longest bear market in modern times."

DEFICITS

CBO: "A carbon trading program would lead to a decline in economic activity and a corresponding decrease in tax collections."

Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), ranking minority member, House Budget Committee: "The administration's tax cuts and budget policies have not created the promised new jobs over the last three years, but they have created huge deficits that will stifle future growth and burden our children and grandchildren with debt."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Medicare Proposal Outlined by Washington Post

Looks like Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) is doing some good work.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:47 AM

Taking Care of Their Own

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi sends along a note:
Liberal hatred of President Bush has become an all-consuming passion for many. In his congressional district, it's gone so far that a candidate running to replace a very embarrassing incumbent has dropped out of the race to focus her efforts on hating the President!

Here are just a couple of things that my congressman, Jim Moran (D-VA), has done to bring attention to himself:

* Accosted an eight-year-old boy who pretended to hold him up.

* Entered into a questionable personal financial deal with a lobbyist involved in legislation he was in a position to influence (he needed the money to help pay off personal debts). He also received a favorable loan despite his poor credit.

* Alleged to have roughed up his wife, but no charges were filed (his wife filed for divorce a short time afterward).

* Sold his personal car and began using a car leased by his campaign for personal use.

* Assaulted fellow congressmen Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) and Dan Burton (R-IN).

* Viciously opposed the renaming of Washington National Airport to honor Ronald Reagan to the extent that he was against the Reagan name being used on mass transit maps and signs.

* Claimed that powerful American Jews were behind the military ouster of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

* Has a reputation of being a very combative and physically abusive when confronted by critics.

In 2004, he will face primary opposition. This watershed came after the Jewish remarks were made earlier this year. Several prominent local politicians have announced their intentions to challenge him. But one, former congresswoman and current state senator Leslie Byrne, has decided to drop out of the race. Why? The Washington Post reports Byrne feels her time is better spent trying to get George W. Bush out of office. If she defeated Moran, she says, it might be a hollow victory: "I would still have George Bush in the White House, and that is just not acceptable."

When liberals cannot take care of their own, why should they think they have the moral standing to take care of all of us?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:22 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Why We Have No EPA Director

Interesting article in The Hill today about the Leavitt nomination. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma essentially says the nomination is being held up by Senator Lieberman because Lieberman is trying to jump-start his presidential campaign. Lieberman denies it. Interesting read.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:39 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Future of Russia: What Do You Think?

For those of you with an interest in what is going on in Russia, I had an op-ed published recently in several papers, including this in the Miami Herald.

I also recommend to you our Future of Russia website, where we have another blog, links to news articles, and a discussion board. I invite anyone with an interest join our discussion there.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:10 PM

Immorality

A note from Mike Catanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff:
During a recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing on global warming, proponents of mandatory energy suppression declared, in their usual glib manner, that the "consequences" of global warming (a term left conspicuously undefined) are "extremely serious." As we have seen, "serious consequences" is alarmist code for hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc., but also within that category is an increase in serious diseases (dengue fever, malaria). At what temperature level those maladies become more rife, more pervasive, and more afflicting is never stated. NRDC contends, first tentatively, then more confidently, that the spread of global-warming-induced disease is essentially occurring now: "Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases...Disease-carrying mosquitoes are spreading as climate shifts allow them to survive in formerly inhospitable areas." Environmental Defense, sticking with the subjunctive, reaches a more hesitant, though no less alarmist, conclusion: "If the warming continues as scientists expect, we face the possibility of...insect-borne tropical diseases" (presumably the "we" means Americans).

FACT: There is no connection between global warming and outbreaks or increases in disease, tropical or otherwise. Dr. Paul Reiter, who worked for 22 years as a medical entomologist for the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Disease of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and now head of the new unit of Insects and Infectious Disease at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, recently complained that those making such connections (including the U.N.'s IPCC) are "exploiting common misconceptions: mosquito-borne diseases are 'tropical,' hot weather and heavy rainfall mean more mosquitoes, mosquitoes die if the weather is cold, and more mosquitoes mean more infections." As he put it, "It is immoral for the political activists to mislead the public by attributing the recent resurgence of these diseases to climate change, particularly in Africa. The true reasons are far more complex, and the principal determinants are politics, economics, and human activities. A creative and organized application of resources to change the situation is urgently needed, regardless of future climate."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:52 PM

Monday, October 20, 2003

Tuesday Morning Quarterback Sacked

There's been a development in the Gregg Easterbrook story. NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi elaborates:
I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but the Tuesday Morning Quarterback was, in fact, sacked.

In the October 20 Washington Post, media critic Howie Kurtz reports that Easterbrook was unceremoniously dumped by ESPN without even a phone call. Furthermore, it appears his body of work with the network has been removed from their Internet web site.

Easterbrook is a visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution and an editor at The New Republic and several other magazines. It's not like he'll be worried where his next meal is coming from. However, besides the initial Associated Press story that can be found on a few media web sites and Kurtz's follow-up today, this is liable to be the last you see of it. While I commend ESPN for not creating a double-standard by keeping Easterbrook and dumping Rush Limbaugh, I do wonder why this is getting such little coverage.

My beef remains with the lack of media interest when liberals are caught behaving badly.

Everyone knows about Trent Lott and his comments at the Strom Thurmond birthday celebration. Many may also remember his association with the Council of Conservative Citizens. Both stories got major play. But did you know that Senator Jay Rockefeller has a "very close and personal friend" who is a Nazi sympathizer. He's not really close to the man, but was pretending to as he used Rickey McCumbers as a prop at a 1997 new conference. It was only after the press conference started that it was discovered that McCumbers had a swastika tattooed on his forearm. There was little coverage of the incident. To reveal the media bias, Frank Sesno of CNN said it would have been reported far and wide had the same faux pas been made by Newt Gingrich (see
http://secure.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1997/cyb19970729.html#3 for the story).

By the way, did you know that Cruz Bustamante once used the "n-word" in a speech (http://sandiego.indymedia.org/en/2003/09/100728.shtml)? Of course, you didn't. But you do know Governor-elect Swarzenegger is accused of being a sexual predator.

I'll stop now, since I could go on for hours...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:52 PM

Will ESPN Give Gregg Easterbrook the Rush Limbaugh Treatment?

Here's what NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi is saying about a new controversy involving another ESPN personality under fire:
It may be time to sack the "Tuesday Morning Quarterback."

That's the name of Gregg Easterbrook's football column appearing on ESPN.com. Easterbrook is a senior editor at the New Republic magazine, where he maintains an Internet blog. On Monday, October 13, in a column complaining about the violence in the new movie "Kill Bill," Easterbrook questioned the religious morality of the studio executives at Miramax and its parent Walt Disney Company for distributing it. Disney also owns ESPN.

Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and Michael Eisner of Disney are both Jewish. Easterbrook questioned their religious consciences, writing: "Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence?"

Ouch.

Easterbook has since apologized on that very same blog site, calling it a case of "mangled words." It's easy to accept his apology and move on under normal circumstances, but ESPN happens to be the same network that just a few weeks ago expressed great dismay and regret and -- depending on what stories you believe -- got rid of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for saying the media promotes the careers of black quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb.

One could say that Easterbrook's blog remark is part of a pattern of insensitivity. This past January, in a review he wrote of Kenneth Bradsher's anti-SUV book "High and Mighty," he approvingly reprinted Bradsher's assertion that the roads will be less safe in coming years as "immigrants, the lower middle class and the poor, who generally speed, run lights, drive drunk and crash more often than the prosperous class" begin to acquire secondhand SUVs.

Even though neither of Easterbrook's remarks were made on ESPN, network executives must take notice of them. Their outrage over Rush demands it.

Send Easterbrook to sensitivity training? Suspend him? Fire him? That's up to the network. But doing nothing is hypocritical.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:08 AM

Up Next for Casting: Pol Pot

Thoughts from our Ed Haislmaier:
"Well, you know something, they've played Hitler, nobody has ever really touched Stalin, it just occurred to me. It's not because I am a liberal or anything like that. Stalin is one big d--- mystery, I wonder why nobody has tried it?   Many people, you know, speak of the fact that he killed more people than Hitler - why does nobody touch him?  It's strange.  So, and he was about my size, my height - with a wig I probably could do it."

-Ed Asner, as quoted by columnist and talk show host Kevin McCullough on October 15 (a column correcting an earlier verion in which Asner was misquoted)
Coincidently, the next day The Heritage Foundation published a lecture by Anne Applebaum, columnist and editorial board member at the Washington Post, on her new book, Gulag: A History, in which she notes:

"Thanks to archives, we now know that there were at least 476 camp systems, each one made up of hundreds, even thousands of individual camps or lagpunkts, sometimes spread out over thousands of square miles of otherwise empty tundra. We know that the vast majority of prisoners in them were peasants and workers, not the intellectuals who later wrote memoirs and books. We know that, with a few exceptions, the camps were not constructed in order to kill people -- Stalin preferred to use firing squads to conduct mass executions.

Nevertheless they were, at times, very lethal: Nearly one-quarter of the Gulag's prisoners died during the war years. They were also very fluid: Prisoners left because they died, because they escaped, because they had short sentences, because they were being released into the Red Army, or because they had been promoted from prisoner to guard. There were also frequent amnesties for the old, the ill, pregnant women, and anyone else no longer useful to the forced labor system. These releases were invariably followed by new waves of arrests.

As a result, between 1929, when they first became a mass phenomenon, and 1953, the year of Stalin's death, some 18 million people passed through them. In addition, a further 6 or 7 million people were deported, not to camps but to exile villages. In total, that means the number of people with some experience of imprisonment in Stalin's Soviet Union could have run as high as 25 million, about 15 percent of the population."

Someone should turn Ms. Applebaum's new book into a movie and cast Mr. Asner as Stalin.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:06 AM

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Speaking of Jerks...

NewsMax.com is reporting that the owner of a New York Newspaper, the Niagara Falls Reporter, has said he hopes Rush Limbaugh gets cancer and dies.

According to the newspaper's website, the owner is also the editor-in-chief. It doesn't appear that he's a very nice guy. Here, for example, is what he published after the editor of a rival newspaper was fired: "Normally, I hate to see anybody lose his job. In the case of former Niagara Gazette Publisher Steve Braver though, I'll make an exception. I hope he has to eat dirt. He's a supercilious, arrogant jerk..."

I don't know anything about Steve Braver, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn he's a great guy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:27 PM

Friday, October 17, 2003

Russia Needs the Rule of Law

An article by Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation in The Washington Dispatch reports that the Communist Party is growing again in Russia. Specifically, he says, last year 18,000 new recruits joined, 80 percent of whom are under 40 years of age.

Most noteworthy, the "reasons given were to 'protest current conditions' and because of their 'dislike of [Vladimir] Putin and Company.'"

This is worrisome because, in historical terms, there may be only a short window to convince the Russian people that democratic capitalism is their best option. No one denies that cleaning up after communism, especially economically, is difficult and can't be done overnight. But Russia needs leadership that -- in its words and especially its actions -- models the best of what democratic capitalism can be.

Think of Konrad Adenauer, who helped turn West Germany into an economic powerhouse after World War II, and reconcilled with Germany's neighbors to the point that Germany was allowed not only to re-arm, but to join NATO as well. Or George Washington, who could have become a King (or at the very least run for a third term), but chose instead to teach his people about a new way of thinking about political leadership.

No one can seriously say that the challenges facing Vladimir Putin aren't daunting, but he sought the job. Putin needs to do a great deal more to show his people that the rule of law has been fairly and objectively established in Russia. Until he or another Russian leader does that, Russia will not meet its economic goals nor will it establish a stable democracy where human and civil rights are the norm.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 PM

Kennedy May Crack -- Or Has He Already?

A Washington Times report by Amy Fagan Friday says Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is showing a minute crack in his resolve to filibuster the Medicare prescription drug bill if it includes means testing (aka includes any provisions making wealthy seniors pay more for health care and/or drug coverage).

Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel's "Special Report" on Thursday said Kennedy gave a Senate floor speech saying American servicemen cannot be considered "liberators" of Iraq.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:15 AM

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

One More Thing for Arnold to Fix

More evidence that lawyers are trying to take over the world. California has joined the other ridiculous states in trying to set national global warming policies though lawsuits.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:20 PM

While We're on the Hunt

A note from David Almasi:
While we're on the hunt for the supposed White House leaker, can we re-open the case of Phil Agee and how he apparently got the CIA station chief in Athens, Greece killed in 1975?

Some links about this that I found interesting can be found here and here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:17 PM

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Rush Was Right

My husband David has observed: Rush was right. He could out-debate liberals with half his brain tied behind his back.

We're pulling for you, Rush.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:27 PM

The U.N.: What's It Good for?

This Heritage Foundation WebMemo #341 by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is worth a read. Gardiner predicts:
The UN failed spectacularly to deal with Saddam Hussein, and its influence is likely to diminish further in the coming years unless it demonstrates a greater willingness to address the threat posed by international terrorism, state-sponsors of terror, and rogue regimes developing weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:24 PM

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Good News and Bad News for Gay Marriage Advocates

Good News for Gay Marriage Advocates: The Russian Orthodox Church has just performed its first-ever gay marriage ceremony.

Bad News for Gay Marriage Advocates: After the ceremony, the priest was fired and the church bulldozed and then burned because, church officals said, the ceremony had "desecrated" the building.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:06 PM

Carl Weathers for Governor?

A note from our executive director, David Almasi:
Is Carl Weathers interested in running for governor?

Since the political parties are still having trouble recruiting candidates for the 2004 elections, the leaders of both parties might consult the cast of the 1987 movies Predator and The Running Man. So far, alumni Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura have been elected governors.

Bill Duke of Predator may be out since he's currently co-starring on the show Karen Sisco, but, like Mary Carey in California, former porn star Sonny Landham is probably available. In The Running Man, the parties have a wide range of famous names to choose from, including Richard Dawson (Family Feud & Hogan's Heroes), football great Jim Brown, Yaphet Kotto (Homicide) and musician/actors Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:55 PM

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

A Dubious Honor, But Still...

Unbelievable. The French have now made an American cop killer an honorary citizen of Paris.

The move is said to be an attempt to demonstrate France's "cultural superiority."

A feeble effort, even for them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:16 AM

Monday, October 06, 2003

My Three-Year-Old Pegs It: Maybe Conservatives Should Part Company with the NFL

I've been a pro football fan for 35 years. Not just a slight one. The Immaculate Reception was one of the highlights of my entire life.

Being a fan, I bought my kids an NFL book called "N-F-L 1-2-3." Ostensibly, it teaches little kids to count to ten. In fact, it makes little kids cry.

My daughter Katie cried tonight at bedtime because this NFL preschool board book on counting to ten leaves out the number five. That's right. The NFL creates an entire book dedicated to nothing other than teaching kids to count to ten and the number five is missing.

Proofreaders they aren't.

Being a little kid, Katie could not understand that the NFL made a mistake. I tried to explain it every way I could think of, but Katie couldn't grasp the concept of a publisher's error. She was convinced that pages four and six must be stuck together. I explained and explained. She didn't get it. "Stuck!" she still cried.

So, finally, I took out a kitchen knife and carefully split one of the cardboard pages into two. That's hard to do. I tore holes in it a couple of times and had to tape it up. When I was finished peeling the page I hand-wrote "5" on the new, split cardboard, page.

The new page five, unlike all the other pages, didn't have any glossy pictures of football players. It just had the single numeral "5" on a torn-up page. But Katie nonetheless was satisfied. The number is what she wanted. She didn't need any football hype.

It got me to thinking about the Rush Limbaugh controversy. How much do any of us need that football hype? Especially we conservatives, who apparently aren't wanted?

Probably more than most people, I've been reading editorial comments about what Limbaugh said, and in doing so I've seen A LOT of anti-conservative vitriol from print media sports columnists, TV sports commentators, pro-football players and, just this evening, some really stupid stuff from the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. What I have not seen is anyone from the NFL or anyone from an institution that makes money from its association with the NFL saying that the millions of conservatives being attacked right now are valued customers.

Maybe we're not. Maybe they don't want us around.

Prove me wrong.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:17 AM

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Washington Post: Why Be Accurate? It's Just Limbaugh

Terry Neal, chief political correspondent of the Washington Post, describes what Rush Limbaugh said on ESPN this way: "I think Limbaugh went a step further tha[n] Thomas, saying essentially that McNabb owed his success to the fact that the white media wanted him to succeed..."

This, of course, is a vast exaggeration fo what Limbaugh said. If the chief political correspondent of the Washington Post can't describe Limbaugh's comments more accurately than this, he is underqualified for such a job at such a paper.

My guess is that he could be more accurate if he felt like it, but he doesn't.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:16 PM

Ak'bar Shabazz: "I Like to See Black Quarterbacks Succeed"

Project 21 member Ak'bar Shabazz didn't see any sinister racist agenda in Rush Limbaugh's ESPN comments about Eagles quarterback Donavan McNabb. He doesn't agree with Rush's opinion on McNabb, but isn't provoking discussion what a commentator is supposed to do? Shabazz figures that Rush's politics are more the reason for what happened that his thoughts about McNabb:
I disagree with Rush on one point and agree with him on another.

I don't believe that Donavan McNabb is overrated. I believe McNabb is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. As a Chicago Bears fan, I understand the importance and rarity of having a quarterback with as many skills and talents as McNabb. But it has nothing to do with his race. This guy has won a lot of football games and has been to the NFC Championship twice without ever having a quality receiving corp. There aren't many quarterbacks who can say that.

Present day sports is one of the true bastions of equality in our society. Management and coaches have short shelf lives and don't have time to consider race. Productivity rules. Either you produce or the next guy behind you will play. Race isn't a factor. I dream of the day that we could do that in other parts of our society.

I do agree with the social concern angle. After being institutionally denied from playing the position in the past, I like to see black quarterbacks succeed. In the past, people have insinuated that blacks didn't have the mental capacity to handle the complex nature of the quarterback position. Obviously, they were wrong. I enjoy watching quality black quarterbacks continue to prove them wrong every week in the NFL.

But this isn't the case with all black players, some quarterbacks included. Rush may have a legitimate point in some cases.

To say that Rush is racist because of the opinion he expressed last Sunday is unreasonable. What he said is hardly Jimmy the Greek or Senator Robert Byrd. The man was talking football, on a football show and expressing his opinion, as he was hired to do. The main problem is that he is a guy that likes tax cuts, a strong defense and doesn't really care for big government. He happens to be a conservative. As a conservative, you are either portrayed as a racist or an Uncle Tom.

Liberals don't give conservatives benefit of the doubt on any issues concerning race. Rush said something that made himself a target and, all the sudden, a crisis breaks out.

Rush should be allowed to speak his mind without fear of being labeled a racist, but he has Donavan McNabb wrong. McNabb will be running that Philly offense effectively again very soon. And I'll be cheering for him. Unless, of course, he plays the Bears.


Ak'bar Shabazz

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:58 PM

Friday, October 03, 2003

Hierocracy Watch

Here's one of the more polite negative emails (no anatomical references or swear words) from those who don't love Rush, this from a respresentative of SRP, an electric company in Arizona:
You can defend this Neo-Fascist all you want....the bottom line is he is a hateful, drug addicted bigot and I'm loving the fact that his hierocracy is in full view for all to see.

Ian A Wender

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:24 PM

Rush, Donovan and the Media - from a Project 21 Member

From Project 21 member Dutch Martin:
I am not a football enthusiast, so I cannot comment on Donovan McNabb's performance this season or any previous season. However, as a newly minted and proud black conservative minded person, I feel that the "controversy" surrounding Rush Limbaugh's comments last weekend do raise some interesting issues about free speech, contemporary American race relations, and the media.

* It's Rush Limbaugh! First of all, I agree with the National Center's Amy Ridenour in that the whole media buzz over Limbaugh's comments is completely overblown. Rush Limbaugh is a proud conservative. He speaks his mind, and could care less whether you agree with him or not. The fact that he is the most successful conservative radio talk show host in the country should let people know that, for one thing, people respect him for being a straightshooter, and many people agree share his views. Because he's so popular, Rush Limbaugh also has a lot of enemies on the left, particularly in the media, many of whom I'm sure couldn't wait for an opportunity to find something to use against him.

* ESPN has no backbone. I do not believe that Limbaugh's comments had any racial overtones to them, and ESPN brass should have come to his defense the moment the uproar started. As far as I'm concerned, it's a poor reflection on its top brass that this did not happen, not to mention the fact that they were lightning-quick to accept his resignation. This reminds me of the political fallout a few years ago in Washington, DC, following one of the Mayor's aides using the word niggardly (which means stingy, miserly). The word has absolutely no semantic meaning whatsoever with the racial slur nigger, but that didn't stop many blacks in DC for demanding that the Mayor fire the guy. (Incidentally, Mayor Williams did accept his resignation, but later hired him back after conservative groups rightfully cried foul.)

* The Truth Hurts. In my opinion, the media's outcry over Limbaugh's comments leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, his comments were too close to the truth. To reiterate, I don't follow football, but maybe Limbaugh said what some are thinking, and maybe, just maybe, his comments struck a nerve with ultra-far-left, forever-guilt-stricken liberals in the media and elsewhere.

During an interview with Paula Zahn last evening, black conservative columnist Armstrong Willaims made a very good point in that he believes that if someone black had made those comments, chances are not only would he have not been fired, but he might have even received a raise in salary! Just a thought.

Those are just my observations.


Dutch Martin

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:14 PM

Thursday, October 02, 2003

ESPN: Hypocrites, and Yes, I Can Prove It

I'm posting very little of my email on the Rush Limbaugh controversy because there is too much of it (a lot of which calls conservatives a bunch of names while complaining about name-calling, amusingly enough), but I will address one subject that has come up in many of them: The accusation that I made up the allegation that ESPN chastised Limbaugh for his comments and accepted Rush Limbaugh's resignation, with ESPN's president calling the resignation an "appropriate" response, while ESPN hypocritically ran a poll on its website raising the exact question Limbaugh raised.

Many people have sent me emails such as the one below from Sean Wray of Banks Information Solutions of Austin:
ESPN's poll asks "Is Donovan McNabb overrated? If so, why?" It does not ask if McNabb has been overrated because of his race as you state in your article. I think it's unfortunate that Rush felt he had to resign or that ESPN forced him to resign. Having said that I just find it amusing how you blatantly lie thus destroying any credibility you might have. Your first example is a lie. Why would I or continue read your column?

Sean Wray
My reply to all of you: Here's a screenshot of their poll. I first saw it on the main espn.com page the evening of October 1 and it was still there until mid-afternoon October 2.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:11 PM

Environmentalists -- Enemy of Liberalism

John Fund has a nice article in the Wall Street Journal on the role talk radio hosts have played in the California recall. He notes that Californians spend a lot of time in their cars listening to talk radio.

It occurs to me that if liberal environmentalists were stop their opposition to new roads, a lot of us would get where we are going much quicker, and so we'd spend less time listening to conservative talk radio.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:55 PM

Con & Pro

Samples from the mailbag -- one negative, one positive -- about our press release this morning about Rush Limbaugh:
I have done a lot of work with you guys in the past. I have even quoted your research in our work. But now that I know what you are about, I think I will look elsewhere.

Ken Brown
Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

Kudos to Amy Ridenour for her article. The best point of all is from Rush Limbaugh - Free speech only exists for Liberals that seek to destroy the American way of life. All other speech is mean spirited, offensive and just plain wrong. You can have a brain and believe the Liberal cause, but if you open your mind and listen to conservative thoughts...you are close-minded and brainless.

Since the conservative right is almost always portrayed as wealthy arrogant white guys that just don't get it, it is always refreshing to hear from someone who is not in that category expressing an opinion that does follow the National Press Club standard line. Again, Kudos to Amy Ridenour.


Mark A. Keene
I've gotten more comments than this but am unwilling to post the negative comments that contain highly graphic anatomical references interspersed with four-letter-words. It's enough just to say that I'm receiving them. It's ironic, though, that emails like that come from folks who claim to be protesting "offensive speech."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:55 AM

Affirmative Action -- Keeping Blacks from College?

Donovan McNabb said he hopes Limbaugh's comments that the news media hopes black quarterbacks will succeed don't discourage young blacks from wanting to play quarterback. His logic is that good black quarterbacks will be discouraged because people might think they are being falsely built up because of their race, and therefore, won't play.

Does McNabb also fear affirmative action will discourage young blacks from attending college?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM

Limbaugh's Resignation

I am sorry to see Rush Limbaugh resigning from his ESPN commentary spot. The entire matter is ridiculous, as I note in a press release. After all, if what Rush said was so awful, why didn't it seem that way to the other panelists on the ESPN show at the time? I've watched a clip of that debate several times, and while there was disagreement with Rush over the extent of McNabb's talents, no one seemed to react to Rush's thought that the news media "is desirous" that black quarterbacks succeed. It's only after the politically-correct crowd leaps in that the comments strike the ESPN crowd as noteworthy.

If you go to Google News as I did and read what sports commentators are writing about this, you'll see a lot of hate directed at political conservatives. Reading many of these commentaries Wednesday night, I did not find a single one critical of Rush that did not also condemn his political views.

ESPN has been very hypocritical in this matter, formally saying Rush's resignation was appropriate at their very time the main page of the ESPN.com website carried a poll asking visitors to vote on whether McNabb is overrated and, if so, if it is because of his race. What's good for the goose...? I hope ESPN's ratings sink like a stone.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

It's Not the Football Season -- It's the Silly Season

Donovan McNabb says he hopes Rush Limbaugh's comments don't discourage young blacks from wanting to play quarterback.

In my opinion, any young man intimidated by a press corps that wished him well -- which is, after all, what Limbaugh said -- doesn't belong in a job that forces him to face a defensive line.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:07 PM

Front Line Voices

A new webpage, Front Line Voices, was launched today featuring letters from troops overseas about their experiences.

I learned of this website from James Taranto's always-informative Best of the Web.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:43 PM

Homework Load Doesn't Add Up

I don't know how much homework American kids have to complete, but I'm pretty sure they aren't doing much in either English composition or in history.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:21 AM

I Found Six

If anyone is looking for an especially irresponsible editorial on the latest attempt to smear President Bush, today's Boston Globe has a great example.

The editorial reminds me of the picture game for kids in which children are told to find as many of a particular object, say, triangles, in a picture. In this case, we'd count errors. I found six reading the story twice, which was as often as I could stand to read it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 AM

Natural Gas Crunch Could Affect Quality of Life, GOP Task Force Says

This AP report covers what should be obvious: If our government continues to promote the use of natural gas as an energy source while simultaneously following environmentalist-backed policies to restrict our supply of natural gas, one day we're going to feel the pinch.

Our senior fellow Bonner Cohen pointed this out in August. Heck, three years ago, our John Carlisle predicted the same thing. But environmentalists aren't listening, and many politicians are too scared to cross them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:17 AM

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