masthead-highres

Monday, January 31, 2005

Maybe the Teachers' Union Should Sit in the Corner for a While

Washington State's Evergreen Freedom Foundation is wryly noting the National Education Association's participation in this week's national "No Name-Calling Week," because the NEA's Washington affiliate has referred to Evergreen and its staff as "lying dirtbags," "hate group," "evil band of zealots" and "trolls."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:17 PM

Most Outrageous Lawsuits of 2004

Randy Cassingham has just announced the winners of the True Stella Awards for the most "wild, outrageous, or ridiculous lawsuits" of 2004.

You can read a short summary of all six winning lawsuits here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:42 PM

Optimistically Cynical

From Cranky Neocon:
Today, I am going to be a misty-eyed optimist. Tomorrow, I'll probably read that over seven million Iraqis are actually CIA operatives.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Glad He's Back

I never pictured Beldar with a beard...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Sunday, January 30, 2005

How the Democrats Can Win

My two bits to the present discusson on Instapundit on how to save the Democratic party...

When the Democratic party has something to offer, policywise, that voters prefer to what the GOP offers, the Democrats will do better at the polls.

That may seem like a "well, duh!," but that's what it will take.

Sure, they might win some major elections here and there (such as Clinton's two terms), but if the Democrats really want to reestablish themselves as the majority party, they have to present a coherent, consistent and appealing policy platform, and market it well.

Right now the Democrats are defining themselves as the "anti-Republicans." That's honest, but it does not tell voters how they will govern. And it (mostly) limits the party's appeal to those voters who already dislike Republicans. Where's the appeal to the voters who dislike both parties, or sort-of like each?

So, perversely, if the Democrats want to win elections what they need to do is stop worrying about winning elections and start working harder on what they would do if they did win.

For example, they might start by getting together on what they want to do about health care, an issue they talk about a lot, but never seem to do much about (Mrs. Clinton's disaster notwithstanding, and even her plan was never seriously proposed as legislation -- in fact, it was proposed in Congress by a Republican, Dick Armey, who did it just to watch it die).

The Democrats, speaking generally, want government-run health care. But even with this degree of broad agreement, they don't bother to get together behind a plan.

Last week, John Kerry had a major press conference to tout his plan to have the federal government block-grant cash to the states if the states offer expanded health care coverage. On January 12, Ted Kennedy had a major press conference calling for the expansion of federal Medicare coverage to every man, woman and child in the United States within ten years.

So we have two liberal Massachusetts Democrats who supposedly get along offering two differing versions of the road to socialized medicine in the same month. If Kerry's and Kennedy's goal was to enact policy, they'd get together behind the scenes and work together to push one plan. But if their goal is to maximize press coverage, and stop Bush from succeeding, well, two press conferences saying any old thing, as long as it is not what Bush is saying, will do just fine.

The day the Democrats stop trying to maximize their press coverage and start trying to maximize their efforts to actually deliver something for the people that the people want (which won't be socialized medicine, but that's something to discuss at another time) will be the day they take their biggest step back to power.

In the meantime, watch for them on TV. They'll be the ones titled "minority."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 AM

Saturday, January 29, 2005

David Almasi: I Am a Pet Owner

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi asserts his dominance:
My wife and I adopted a dog a few months ago and now have Madison (a corgi/sheltie mix) enrolled in obedience training at a local pet store.

After Maddie performed exceptionally well at finding me hiding behind a stack of dog food, the instructor remarked on how excited she was to find her... [long pause] ummm... "owner."

It took the instructor about 20 seconds of indecision to identify me as a pet "owner" rather than a guardian to a companion animal or some other sort of politically collect claptrap.

(I'm not sure if he was trying to not offend the humans or the dogs.)

Doing away with the notion of pet ownership is a disturbing trend that is promoted by the animal rights movement. San Francisco has gone along -- it even formally threw out the term pet owner altogether.

When we first adopted Maddie, I was a bit taken aback by the fact that we went through three rigorous interviews before getting the green light. I know there are people out there with bad intent that need to be identified and weeded out, but one look at my wife's eager face should have been able to convince anyone of her unconditional love for about 20 of the dogs up for adoption at the time. Since then, we have been a one-stop shop of care giving for Maddie: Three walks a day, free-flowing premium dog food, treats and toys out the wazoo, free health care, chauffer service to the doggy park and constant attention when we're home (to the dismay of our two cats).

We also know that we are responsible for cleaning up after her, keeping her from harm and from harming others. Along with lacking an opposable thumb, Madison also lacks the conscience and judgment that sets humans apart from beasts. That's what defines our relationship as ownership as opposed to guardianship.

Changing the terms of the human-pet relationship is just another step in the true goal of the animal rights movement: The total extinction of pets. Dr. Elliott Katz, president of the animal rights group In Defense of Animals cheered San Francisco's change in semantics in 2003, saying, "The term 'guardian' denotes a positive relationship and mutually beneficial bond between two living beings, where constant care, attention, and affection are necessary for a thriving relationship. It instills respect for and appreciation of our companion animals." It's a bit deceptive, considering his 1993 statement in which he said, "It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:12 PM

Bloggers: Increase Your Blog Traffic

Blogger Alert: Norman at Expresso Sarcasm has found a sure-fire way to increase blog traffic.

What's more, it's free.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:53 PM

Friday, January 28, 2005

Repudiating Ann Coulter

Very many conservatives have spent years explaining to their fellow Americans and to people overseas that the United States is not aggressive toward other nations, that our military policy is based on national security and that we genuinely wish other nations well.

Then there is Ann Coulter.

Unendingly trotted out on the Fox News Channel in the guise of someone representative of modern American conservatism, Coulter is seen here speaking about Canada in this undated clip from Hannity and Colmes. Some snippets:
When you are allowed to exist on the same continent as the United States of America...

They had better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them...

They are lucky to be allowed to exist on the same continent...
I have no problem with criticizing Canada (I do it myself here, for example). But remarks like Ann's in this clip are worse than damaging to conservatism -- they hurt the United States. These ideas need to be repudiated as utterly unrepresentative of the philosophy of any significant segment of the United States.

One has an obligation to speak responsibly. The greater the audience one has, the more important it is to do so. I sometimes wonder if the New Media realizes that there is more to breaking up the monopoly that was the Old Media than simply dancing on the Old Media's grave. Put simply: We have to do better or we are no better.

Please, folks, whether you are on Fox or blogging or on talk radio, think before you speak!

Now, repudiation aside, here's something a little more constructive in the way of criticism of Canada: A (reportedly) leaked conversation between our President and their Prime Minister.

Hat tip: Musings of a Caffeinated Mind.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 PM

Let the Dems Speak

The American Conservative Union's Dr. Don Devine is supporting the Administration's new proposals to promote federal employees at the Department of Homeland Security based on their performance rather than their seniority.

Don ran the federal personnel system during the Reagan Administration, so he knows this issue minutely. (He also was the faculty advisor for my College Republican club in the 1970s, but that's quite irrelevant.)

I'd love it if some talk show host somewhere set up a debate between him and one of the folks at the DNC I blogged about earlier. The more often Americans with private sector jobs hear the DNC's claim that seniority is more important than competence, the better. I have every confidence that most voters want competent government -- especially at Homeland Security.

I wonder of the DNC thinks the U.S. Army should run promotions this way?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:34 PM

Conscientious Objector in Harry Reid's Ranks?

From David Almasi:
It turns out one of the protestors arrested for disrupting President Bush's inaugural address was a staffer for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

It's interesting the lack of attention this incident seems to be receiving considering that The Washington Post could find the time this week to research the current employment of Bush activists involved in the 2000 Florida recount.

What's interesting to me is that Reid staffer/protester Nathan Ackerman held up a banner reading "no war,” yet he works in Reid's "war room" to combat the majority agenda in the Senate.

Was Nathan making a statement to Bush or to his boss?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:18 PM

Pelosi Claims GOP Wants Race-Based Social Security System

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has this sentence in a recent press release: "Republicans... have proposed providing African American and Hispanic workers with different [Social Security] benefits than white workers."

So there can be no doubt that I have quited her accurately, here is the entire press release:
Pelosi: Latest Republican Proposal to Cut Benefits Hurts Middle-Class Workers

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today in response to reports that the Bush Administration is considering cutting future Social Security benefits for retirees based on their income.

"Today, Republicans proposed yet another cut in Social Security benefits for American workers. They have proposed cutting benefits by almost 50 percent for every single senior in the years to come. They have proposed cutting Social Security benefits for women because they live longer than men. They have proposed providing African American and Hispanic workers with different benefits than white workers.

"This latest Republican proposal to cut benefits for middle- class American workers is just more of the same. Under this proposal, middle-class workers would see a severe benefit cut but continue to pay the same level of payroll taxes.

"Trillions in increased debt, drastic benefit cuts, and the false promise of private accounts are the wrong ways to go. The Republicans should try something new -- keeping their promise to American workers. Millions of Americans have earned their Social Security retirement benefits through a lifetime of hard work. Rather than cutting benefits and betraying seniors, we should be fighting to protect Social Security as the foundation of a secure retirement."

http://www.usnewswire.com/

-0-
No support for the allegation is provided within the press release.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:33 PM

Fisking the DNC Blog

What balderdash -- the Democratic National Committee is claiming on its blog that a Bush Administration proposal to pay and promote federal employees based on their work performance rather than seniority amounts to "eliminating their right to negotiate the terms of their employment."

Proof, perhaps, that the DNC is putting labor union interests over those of the taxpayers?

(As one of the latter, I vote for performance promotions.)

I also think the name of the DNC's blog is needlessly offensive. (It's dumb, too, referring as it does to kicking the symbol of the Democratic Party.)

I'm also not sure the prominent image of a "troll" (their term for non-Democrats who post comments on their blog) getting his head smashed by a large hammer is worthy of a major political party.



I'd like to think a group that seeks to run the government disapproves of fighting dissent with violence.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Federal Payola: Journalists Aren't Special

If you don't think columnists should receive federal grant money, read this or one of the other studies and papers about the conservative/GOP "Truth in Testimony" proposal that was informally associated with the 1994 "Republican Revolution," and was considered a highly-controversial, ultra-radical (maybe even downright nasty) right-wing plot when the GOP unveiled it.

I might be remembering wrong, but as I recall, when conservative Republicans in the mid-1990s tried to get taxpayer-funded organizations to disclose the specifics of their conflict of interest when testifying before Congress, the mainstream media did not stand on the side of disclosure.

Why not?

Here's an excerpt of the study, published by the Heritage Foundation in 1996, that I cited above:
Committee hearings can serve to educate the public by allowing a range of views to be presented and questioned. Indeed, congressional hearings often are the focus of national media reports. When these sessions are stacked in favor of continuing or expanding government programs, they give media access and prestige to those who believe that for every problem, there is a federal solution. Further, when the witnesses -- and Congress itself -- fail to reveal the self-interested nature of a spending advocate's testimony, they convey a misleading picture to the public.

Consider, for example, the fight over funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Almost all of the witnesses at a February 29, 1996, House Commerce Committee hearing were financially dependent on federal tax dollars, and each predictably called for greater federal spending for public broadcasting...

Another of many such examples is a hearing on welfare reform held by the House Ways and Means Committee on February 2, 1995. Of the 65 witnesses who testified, 18 were from organizations that received federal grants, including five state and local officials who acknowledged that their agencies depend on federal funds. Apparently, none of the other 13 witnesses -- from groups such as the National Council of La Raza, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, the National Center for Family Literacy, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Public Voice for Food and Health Policy -- thought that it relevant to mention their grants from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, or the fact that their funding might have been in jeopardy. This scenario is repeated all too often, from Superfund reform to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, welfare reform, job training programs, and a host of other taxpayer-funded efforts...
Journalists aren't special (sorry, journalists!). If you should disclose a possible conflict of interest when writing an opinion column, you sure as heck should if you are testifying before Congress.

Or, better yet, decide to stop taking federal money.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Diplomad: U.N. Dishonesty

The Diplomad fisks a U.N. press conference on the U.N.'s contributions to tsunami relief refforts.

Says the Diplomad: "The dishonesty is breathtaking."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:34 PM

CAGW: No Congressional Staff Pay Raise!

Citizens Against Government Waste is opposing cost-of-living raises for Congressional staffers, saying "Heavy reliance on congressional staffers allows members of Congress to abdicate their responsibility to read and write the legislation they vote on."

CAGW says some Senators today have nearly 100 staffers -- yet, the Senate did entirely without publicly-funded staffers until 1884.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:11 PM

Baby Jordan Update II

Baby Jordan received a heart.

Read a message from this parents here.

Please pray for the families involved -- particularly the two little babies and those who love them.

Thanks to Michelle Malkin for alerting me and many others to this situation.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 PM

Chirac Proposes International Tax - Again

The French are once again floating an idea for an international tax.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:51 PM

Patterico's Pontifications: U.N. Undermines U.S. Effort to Encourage Voting in Iraq

Christopher Cross at Patterico's Pontifications sheds light on United Nations efforts to stop the U.S. from distributing materials to Iraqis that urge them to vote in Sunday's elections.

Remind me: Why are we in the U.N.? Oh yeah -- promotion of worldwide democracy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:50 PM

Holocaust Blogburst Notes

From a couple of other blogs I have visited today:
The host of the Psycho Toddler blog tells the story, with pictures, of his own family's horrific Holocaust experience in his blog today. Very, very sad.

Meanwhile, Harry at Squaring the Boston Globe reports that the Boston Globe has what could be called an excessively complimentary obituary in today's Globe for a man Harry calls "an American Albert Speer."
My own Holocaust Remembrance Blogburst post can be found directly below this post.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:48 PM

Blogburst: Holocaust Testimonies

I'm participating in the January 27 Blogburst on the theme "Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz."

Polls, such as this one about Canadians and this one about Britons (I could not find a recent one about Americans, but am under no illusions that I would like its results), show scandalously high levels of ignorance about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the multiple genocides that have occurred within the lifetimes of people living today.

My contribution to the Blogburst is to recommend this link to the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. You can use the viewer at this site to watch short excerpts of personal testimonies from people who survived the Holocaust.

See and hear what these survivors experienced, in their own words, and remember, chillingly, that most of those touched by the Holocaust did not survive.

If you don't do it today, bookmark the page, and do it on another day.

I also am publishing a list of other Blogburst participants, each of whom has committed to posting or linking to material on this topic today. I hope readers will consider visiting the websites of some of the other participants.

Other Blogburst participants include:


You can learn more about the Blogburst project, including how to become a participant in future Blogbursts, here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Baby Jordan Update

He's strong, but still needs a heart transplant -- soon.

Spread the word.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:37 PM

Heritage Weblog: Does Socialized Medicine Work?

The Heritage Policy Weblog answers the question, with help from the National Center for Policy Analysis's John Goodman and the fine folks at the Cato Institute.

Hint: The answer is "no."

Labels: ,

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:14 PM

All Pay, No Work

The National Taxpayers Union is on the case of 25 Members of the U.S. House and Senate who did not show up for work, but still got paid.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:15 PM

Freedom in the Workplace

Should you be allowed to go to work if you want to?

A Michigan union apparently didn't think so.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:09 PM

Iraqi Elections: Where is the United Nations?

Is politics keeping the U.N. from assisting with elections in Iraq?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:02 PM

Bill Clinton: Social Security in Crisis

From a Talon News article today comes this February 9, 1998 quote from then-President Bill Clinton:
[I]f you don't do anything [with Social Security], one of two things will happen. Either it will go broke and you won't ever get it, or if we wait too long to fix it, the burden on society ... of taking care of our generation's Social Security obligations will lower your income and lower your ability to take care of your children to a degree that most of us who are parents think would be horribly wrong and unfair to you and unfair to the future prospects of the United States.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:08 PM

Podhoretz: Iraqi Election Double-Standard?

Ed Haislmaier sent over this New York Post editorial by John Podhoretz, drawing particular attention to this observation:
...But others speak in pessimistic tones about the inability or the unwillingness of the residents of the "Sunni Triangle" to participate. Sunni Muslims, who were the dominant force in Saddam Hussein's regime, constitute 20 percent of Iraq's population. And yet the argument is seriously made that a Sunni boycott will invalidate the election results.

If white South Africans had refused to participate in that nation's first-ever free elections back in 1994, nobody on earth would have argued that their lack of participation invalidated the election results.
Good point.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 PM

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Love for Abortion in Search of a Justification

Speaking of the Center for American Progress, it has an essay posted today on its main page by a Reverend Debra W. Haffner saying, "we have a moral imperative to ensure access to abortion services."

The essay says even parental notification (not just consent) laws are immoral as well as any limits whatsoever on any abortion procedures.

The essay gives the following as the moral reasoning behind this position: "...it is precisely because life is sacred that it not be created carelessly."

But -- isn't destroying life the ultimate in treating it "carelessly?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:05 PM

Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: In Ten Years We May Have Been Warned

The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler has a side-splittingly funny critique of the new doomsday global warming report by the world famous climate scientists at the Center for American Progress and their ideological allies abroad.

Many of the comments to this post are gems, too.

Hat tip: The DAOU Report

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:30 PM

Sadness

I was pro-life before I read this, but wow.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:03 AM

Tunes for the Troops

Jeffrey Lynn, the father of a Marine on his second tour of duty in Iraq, has set up this website to support the troops with gifts of CDs and messages of support.

Says Jeff: "My goal is to get music in the hands of any soldier that needs a taste of home - and that's just what our Tunes for Troops program does."

By a $10 CD and they send a CD to you and another to a soldier or Marine in Iraq or Afghanistan, along with a (optional) message from you.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 AM

Read the Whole Thing

By coincidence, after I read Andrew Sullivan's denunciation of a piece by Rabbi Daniel Lapin as "a new nadir" in the "degeneration of the American right," I caught up on reading my email and found a copy of Lapin's entire essay in my in-box.

Let's put it this way: After I read all of what Lapin had to say, I had a very different impression of his thoughts than I had after reading Sullivan's post.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 AM

Monday, January 24, 2005

Baby Jordan Needs a Heart

There's a little baby in New York City who needs a heart transplant within the next few days to live.

Details here.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:29 PM

Johnny Carson: An Appreciation

Google has 440,000 entries for the phrase "end of an era"; yet, few of its uses are likely to be more apt than in referring to the loss of Johnny Carson.

It is not just Carson's uniqueness -- which others are addressing better than I can -- but that for much of his "Tonight Show" career, most of us had 3-4 TV channels at most. So we all had Johnny Carson in common. For thirty years.

Some reports about Carson say he was painfully shy. I'm pretty sure he was. Back in the mid-70s my parents took our family to tour NBC. Our tour was walking though an indoor parking lot when our tourguide was briefly called away. As we waited, a car pulled up. It was Carson, and he had to get out and get by us to get into the studio.

He looked at us. (We had looked at him first.) After the first few seconds it was kind of awkward -- the way it can be if you look at a stranger in an elevator and he happens to look at you and then you both feel as though someone has to say something, but no one actually has anything to say. But this was Johnny Carson; the master of talk! Who could be more comfortable filling just a few seconds with friendly chatter?

Somebody else. The King of Late Night was too shy to speak.

Soon realizing this, my Dad -- who as an engineer had professional training about as different from a professional talkmeister's as it is possible to have -- filled the awkwardness (I think he simply made a comment about the weather). Carson did reply; he was friendly, actually, but I had the definite impression that if one of our group had not spoken first, Carson would never have said a word.

Once in a long while, I think about that incident. Mostly, I think it was pretty cool that there was a social situation in which my Dad was a better conversationalist than Johnny Carson (I mean, really, it was Johnny Carson!). But I also think that if someone so painfully shy he could not even think to say something like "have a nice day" could become The Interview King, then we all should take a look at the personal weaknesses we have that we think we can't overcome. Because, just maybe, we can.

Thanks, Johnny.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:00 AM

Stand in the Trenches: Dumb Ironies

This is the best short critique of the Harvard-President-thinks-men-and-women-differ kerfluffle I have seen.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 AM

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Douglas Brinkley: Inconvenient History

Douglas Brinkley (the one who appears on cable shows with the title "historian") complains in the Washington Post that "the right has hijacked the word 'freedom' from the progressive movement."
...Historian Douglas Brinkley points out that Bush's use of "freedom" as political rhetoric pulls a fast one on liberals. The word had mostly been adopted by Democratic and progressive movements. Think of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms," Brinkley said, or the "Freedom Rides" into the segregated South during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, or the "freedom movement" to end the Vietnam War in the same period.

But Brinkley, whose book on John Kerry's Vietnam service, "Tour of Duty," became grist for a conservative attack on the Democratic candidate during the presidential campaign, says conservatives have given the word a different spin.

"The right has hijacked the word 'freedom' from the progressive movement," he said. "It's now becoming associated with the global liberation policy of the Republican Party. The left hasn't put up much of a fight to stop it."
Comments:

1) Brinkley remembers the civil rights Freedom Rides of the early 1960s as part of the "Democratic and progressive movements." The progressives (read: liberals) did support the Freedom Rides. Democrats, at best, were split. (Think for a minute about which political party controlled the segregated southern states.)

2) At the 1964 Republican National Convention, in the most significant non-Reagan American conservative speech of the last 100 years, Barry Goldwater said:
"...My fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways -- not because they are old, but because they are true.

We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom.

Freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government. Freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature's God. Freedom balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.

Now, we Americans understand freedom; we have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This nation and its people are freedom's models in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world.

But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom's mission in our own hearts and in our own homes...
The word "freedom" was a major theme of conservatism in the 1960s. And since. (Does Brinkley not remember that the #1 objective of the Reagan Administration was victory in the Cold War -- or does he not understand what the Cold War fundamentally was about?)

3) Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech concludes with a message that could have been -- and, arguably, was -- delivered by George W. Bush:
This nation has placed its destiny in the hands, heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory.
Contrast them with the ideas expressed in these lines from Bush's Second Inaugural:
From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.

Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
Bush is continuing Roosevelt's work, not hijacking it. (I refer to continuing FDR's work as outlined in the quoted excerpt and the passages supporting it -- parts of the rest of FDR's speech, including its January 1941(!) support for disarmament, could be read as a case study of how liberalism failed).

Freedom is neither a Republican nor Democrat value; it is an American value. We do not hijack it from one another; we defend it together.

Douglas Brinkley, partisan, just doesn't get it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 AM

Blunt Talk from U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln

Michelle Malkin has a link to an on-the-scene report from a writer who serves on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, which is engaged in tsunami relief in Indonesia.

The writer, "Ed Stanton," does not mince words.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Anti-Spam Blogs

A blog about spam.

Efforts to fight it, that is.

And here's another one.

While this anti-spam site has an article about new developments in the war against comment spam on blogs.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 PM

The Paragraph Farmer: Misreading the Coverage

The Paragraph Farmer uses a football analogy while analyzing Bush's Second Inaugural Address.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:42 PM

Friday, January 21, 2005

Appreciation

"There's snow! It's on the playground! That's beautiful!"

That's what my four-year-old son said when he saw the newest picture atop the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog earlier this evening.

(The articles there are nice, too.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:21 PM

New Sisyphus: State Department Underground

Another member of the State Department Republican underground has a blog.

This post in particular caught my eye. There are some good comments posted to it, too.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 PM

Glenn Reynolds: Regulator?

Glenn Reynolds seems to be calling for governmental regulation of free speech.

If the government can regulate a nonprofit's ability to say it believes that one in five children have been sexually solicited online, then that same government can regulate a nonprofit's way of speaking about Social Security reform, the war on terrorism, or whether low-carb or low-fat diets are the healthiest ways to lose weight.

Apparently, in Glenn's World, nonprofits may only commit government-approved speech. Rules applied retroactively.

Does Glenn know how much scrutiny nonprofits receive? Does he know how much time and financial resources nonprofits already put into meeting regulatory requirements? (I suspect not.) He writes, "Nonprofits need to be getting the kind of financial-accounting scrutiny that businesses get." What leads him to believe that they don't now? Does he think a nonprofit's CEO can't go to jail for signing a false tax return (the non-profit's equivalent of a for-profit's financial statement)?

Is he aware that a typical national nonprofit (to be "national" in this context all you have to do is have "please donate" on a website that is accessible from all fifty states, even if no one donates) is regulated by nearly fifty different government agencies?

Glenn says, "Some readers may think I'm not serious about these proposals. I am." Maybe I missed them, but I didn't actually see any actual suggestions for what regulations he would change, where he thinks enforcement has been lax and what he would do about it.

Glenn's post, by the way, rebutted itself. He quoted a Wall Street Journal columnist who challenged the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's sex stat while (oddly) claiming no one would challenge the (supposedly false) sex stat. But both the columnist and Glenn Reynolds complained about it. The Wall Street Journal and Instapundit's 150,000 readers a day versus the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Is something unfair about this? And even if one side or the other has a larger audience (which?), is not the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children entitled to its opinion?

And, speaking of that opinion, Glenn calls for regulation based on the supposed inaccuracy of a statistic that might not be inaccurate. Does Professor Reynolds not receive spam? Tell me that one in five children who receive e-mail have NOT been sexually solicited online. Probably repeatedly. Unless you narrowly define "solicitation" exclusively as one-on-one solicitations for in-person sexual activity and make a case that Triple XXX porn site solicitations don't count -- an argument made neither by the Wall Street Journal columnist nor by Glenn -- the stat on the face of it appears reasonable. There is just too much porn spam out there for kids not to be receiving it in droves.

But the point of this post is not to take a position on how many kids get sexual solicitations online -- just to say that the government should not regulate the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's right to say what it thinks on the matter, just as Glenn and the Wall Street Journal should be able to say what they think, unfettered by regulation.

When perhaps the nation's #1 blogger calls for government regulation of the content of public policy speech, one wonders: Will a call for government regulation of blog content be next? Sometimes bloggers post things that -- horrors! -- readers disagree with. Should someone go to jail?

Quick, somebody, call the regulators. We're all going to jail.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:08 AM

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Rumsfeld the Wimp...

...at least, in comparison.

Personally, if we are going to have a sex symbol at DoD, I'd like to keep the male one.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:33 PM

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Corner: Arlen Specter's Early Moves

I actually noticed this National Review "The Corner" post by Ramesh Ponnuru because it contains a link to a Project 21 press release, but I am glad I did.

It seems Senator Arlen Specter has hired one of the NAACP's top lawyers for the Judiciary Committee staff as one of his first acts as Judiciary Committee Chairman.

Stay tuned...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:32 PM

FDR's Sparse Fourth Inaugural

Dittos on what Squaring the Boston Globe says about FDR's fourth inaugural, and Bush's second.

Harry includes a link to and comments about FDR's fourth inaugural address ("[it] would choke any Democrat who tried to give it today"). Agree. There's something else I noticed, re-reading it. It reads like something someone says when he knows he's dying.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:03 PM

Overlawyered: Newsweek v. Washington Monthly

We are in for a tumultuous four years, folks. Nationally, the Right is in the most advantageous policymaking position it has been in since before the New Deal. The Left knows it, and is throwing everything it can against the Right in an attempt to stop or slow its agenda.

One of several top areas of confrontation is, and for some time will remain, civil legal (tort) reform.

I say all this by way of introduction to one of the battles in the tort reform war, as illuminated by a post on Walter Olson's Overlawyered.com today.

In December 2003, Newsweek ran an cover story on tort reform by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and Evan Thomas. Reformers loved it (including me). The liberal Washington Monthly did not. In October 2004, the Washington Monthly picked apart the Newsweek piece. One of the Newsweek authors responded, asking the Washington Monthly to run the response in their magazine. So far, its editors have not.

The rebuttal, along with Washington Monthly's allegations of Newsweek inaccuracies, makes for an excellent survey of some of the key issues involved in tort reform. Walter Olson has it all here.

And as for Newsweek in this instance fighting on "our side" -- well, I did say the Right is in its best position since the New Deal, didn't I?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:47 PM

From Mrs Suha Arafat - Again

When I said this letter was just a parody, I did predict "so far."

Not anymore.

Can the people who fall for stuff this stupid really have any money worth stealing? (Maybe the joke is on the 419-ers.)

Hat tip: American Digest.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:38 AM

Social Security Reform: Necessary or Not?

The Wall Street Journal is hosting a bloggers' debate on Social Security reform.

Visitors are being encouraged to vote in an online poll and leave public comments about the debate.

Hat tip: InstaPundit.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 AM

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Greatest American: Nominations Open

AOL Television/Discovery Channel is asking the public to nominate up to five people per person for the title of "greatest American," living or dead. They'll tell us who the top 100 vote-getters are.

You can vote online here.

One of my five nominees is my late father. Not all of the greatest Americans are famous.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 PM

Third Infantry Division Support Blog

The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, which has just been deployed to Iraq, wants family, friends and supporters to know they have a blog.

You can visit, read and leave comments here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:48 PM

Tryanny Has No Dress Code

Ed Haislmaier recommends this Mark Steyn piece on the "Prince Harry as a Nazi" flap.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:31 PM

Monday, January 17, 2005

Social Security Employees Oppose Answering Questions According to Employer's Instructions

I was going to write a post about the whining labor union representing employees of the Social Security Administration, but Dick McDonald did it first.

Dick is way less P.C. than I am, but he hits the nail on the head.

By the way, the White House says the entire kerfluffle is fake -- which is what most sane observers already thought. The union's big whine was that Social Security Administration employees might be asked questions by the public, and be expected to answer them according to their employer's point of view.

There is a way to avoid that, if it actually were happening: Quit. Nobody elected these people. Besides, anyone who is not comfortable working for a variety of presidential administrations should not seek to spend their career as a federal government employee. Sometimes these folks answer to Democrats; other times, to Republicans. Live with it or move on.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:30 AM

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Daly Thoughts Returns

After a post-election break, Gerry returns.

We missed you!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:23 PM

Inaugural Costs: Transferring Wealth, Not Wasting It

Though I am oversimplifying in the service of brevity, there is more truth than fiction in the notion that money spent on inaugural festivities represents a transfer of wealth from big corporations and individuals of decent income to men and women who work for caterers, restaurants, hotels, the D.C. convention center, security firms, limousine services and printers, or who are taxi drivers or police officers on overtime.

What do critics of inaugural spending cited by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others have against working people earning a decent living?

Besides, those who can't stand wealth transfers within the private sector could cheer the fact that the government is taking a nice slice of the private money being spent on the aforementioned services though sales and income taxes.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:28 PM

Retirement Security Crisis: Real and Bigger Than Just Social Security

This stark essay by Robert Samuelson in the January 14 Washington Post goes much further than does the White House in saying that our federal senior citizen entitlement programs need reform. Now.

Contrasting sharply with liberals who claim entitlement programs are not in crisis and claim the Administration is peddling falsehoods, Samuelson says the crisis is real. He does not spare President Bush, however, saying the President's reform effort "betrays a lack of seriousness that promises failure."

Some excerpts from Samuelson's piece:
The nation's problem is not Social Security. It is all federal programs for retirees, of which Social Security is a shrinking part...

Our national government is increasingly a transfer mechanism from younger workers (i.e. taxpayers) to older retirees. In fiscal 2004 Social Security ($488 billion), Medicare ($300 billion) and Medicaid ($176 billion) represented 42 percent of federal outlays. Excluding spending that doesn't go to the elderly, the Congressional Budget Office crudely estimates that these programs pay an average of almost $17,800 to each American 65 and over. By 2030 the number of elderly is projected to double; the costs will skyrocket...

Look at the numbers. From 2004 to 2030, the combined spending on Social Security and Medicare is expected to rise from 7 percent of national income (gross domestic product) to 13 percent. Two-thirds of the increase occurs in Medicare. To add perspective: The increases in Social Security and Medicare represent almost a third of today's budget, which is 20 percent of GDP. Covering promised benefits would ultimately require a tax increase of about 30 percent...

The central budget issue of our time is how much younger taxpayers should be forced to support older retirees -- and both political parties and the public refuse to face it. What's fair to workers and retirees? How much of a tax increase (never mind budget deficits) could the economy stand before growth suffered badly? How much do today's programs provide a safety net for the dependent elderly, and how much do they subsidize the leisure of the fit or well-to-do? (About 15 percent of elderly households have incomes exceeding $75,000.) How long should people work?

We need a new generational compact to reflect new realities...

...The debate we need involves generational responsibility and obligation. Anyone who examines the outlook must conclude that, even allowing for uncertainties, both Social Security and Medicare benefits will have to be cut. We can either make future cuts now, with warnings to beneficiaries, or we can wait for budgetary pressures to force abrupt cuts later, with little warning...
To avoid violating copyright law, I had to leave a lot out, including Samuelson's more detailed criticisms of both Democrats and the White House.

I encourage anyone with a stake in the Social Security and Medicare debate (i.e., all Americans not on their deathbed) to read the whole thing here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:25 AM

Friday, January 14, 2005

what if?: Payola Confessions

Peg at what if? has a shocking confession about what she would do for a $1,000 payoff.

Rather than wonder what a $240,000 contract would get me, I'm off to look for the baby pictures she says she posted -- wherever they are.

(I'm a sucker for baby pictures.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:24 PM

Dana Dillon: Tsunamis Do Not Trump Sovereignty

The Heritage Foundation has a calm perspective on the Indonesian government in light of recent events related to tsunami relief efforts.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:04 PM

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Make Love, Not War

The lefties must love this one.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:18 PM

Prince Harry: German Ancestry Does Not Make Him a Nazi Sympathizer

I noted a bit of unintentional irony in this New York Times article about Prince Harry wearing a swastika.

On the one hand, the piece notes some observers lamenting the possibility that history is not being properly taught to young people:
...the debate provoked some introspection about whether the memory of the death camps had endured across the generations.

In Jerusalem, Robert Rozett, the director of the library at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, said the photographs of Harry wearing a swastika showed that "the lessons of the Holocaust have not really entered deeply within his understanding and consciousness."
On the other hand, it is reasonably clear that the author of the Times piece has scant familiarity with recent British history:
As The Evening Standard, among other newspapers, noted on Thursday, the royal family had an ambiguous relationship with Germany and the Nazis. The House of Windsor was formed in 1917 when the royal family changed its name from Saxe-Coburg Gotha, a name it acquired with the marriage in 1840 of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg, which was then a duchy in central Germany.

In the 1930's, moreover, some members were widely seen as openly sympathetic to the Nazis. In one iconic photograph, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, smiling broadly, were seen greeting Hitler.
If ever two paragraphs in a newspaper looked like padding in an essay being turned in for a high school history assignment, this is it.

Does the Times really need to quote the contemporary British press to know basic facts about British history? Is the ancestry of Queen Victoria's prince consort of more significance than Queen Victoria's own German ancestry (if so, a rare bout of overt sexism in the Times), or has the Times not heard of Victoria's own House of Hanover (Germany)? (If so, the ignorance of the House of Hanover explains why the Times often doesn't quite seem to understand the meaning of the Declaration of Independence as well.) And is the relationship between the Duke of Windsor and Hitler/top Nazis really best described by the fact that there exist photos of them cheerful together? One can say the same about Chamberlain, and Stalin. And probably some dufus from the New York Times, since the Times spent the 1930s parroting the Stalin line, and Stalin and Hitler carved up Poland together.

Someone (me, I guess) should tell the Times how misleading it is to say of the Windsors: "In the 1930's, moreover, some members were widely seen as openly sympathetic to the Nazis." Yes, the Duke and Duchess and Windsor were, but as a result, they were exiled in the Bahamas by his brother, King George VI, and Prime Minister Churchill during World War II. (The weather in the Bahamas might be nice, but the exile was a pointed insult, inasmuch as it was a location as far away from the action as the British government could find.) To tar the present House of Windsor with the sins of relatives they and their direct ancestors shunned because of those sins is hardly fair. Yet, the Times offers readers this line as if his great-grandfather's brother's political views tell us something about the thoughts of 20-year-old Prince Harry.

The House of Windsor is no more pro-Nazi than were German-Americans who fought in the U.S. Army during World War II. The patriotism of those men was not "ambiguous." Having German ancestry does not make one think -- even a tiny little bit -- favorably toward the Nazis, and Prince Harry's German ancestry, while more extensive than perhaps the Times realizes, is irrelevant in this case.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:51 PM

ProfessorBainbridge.com: Free the Tomatoes

I don't see why one need become a libertarian to be outraged by this. As a conservative, I certainly am.

Professor Bainbridge is right on the money with this one.

If you like, or even buy, tomatoes, read the Professor's post about how Florida farmers are conspiring to keep us from having the opportunity to buy tasty tomatoes in our local supermarkets.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:28 PM

Heritage Weblog: Social Security Polls

The Heritage Foundation's Heritage Policy Weblog has posted results of several recent polls on Social Security reform, and provides an analysis that, Heritage says, "illustrate(s) that how pollsters ask questions about reform can make a big difference."

Among other results they cite, 82 percent of Americans, according to Gallup, say it is "very important" or "extremely important" for "Congress and the President to deal with Social Security in the next year."

Many of the polls reviewed examine public opinion toward private retirement accounts/partial privatization of Social Security.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:18 AM

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Iraq: Stay Determined

Joe Roche has a message for anyone gloomy about election prospects in Iraq:
Our country is fortunate to have the orderly and time-honored traditions of elections and transfers of power. These are the most important events in democracy.

I spent fifteen months in Baghdad, Iraq, deployed as a soldier in the U.S. Army. My fellow soldiers all knew that the enemies we faced there could never defeat us militarily in Iraq. It was clear to us, therefore, that what they were really aiming at was to terrorize freedom-loving Iraqis and their supporters worldwide. We need to be careful to protect from letting our political freedom become a license for self-inflicted injury to be exploited by our enemies abroad.

Iraq today is a place where the Arab people are fighting for the very future and survival of their civilization. Issues of freedom and democracy have long been alien concepts, talked of only to justify the repression of unpopular causes and people. We have planted the roots of real freedom and democracy there and this is causing a huge region-wide transformation to occur. We should be proud and remain committed to seeing its success.

My unit, the 16th Engineer Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, had a big role in liberating and empowering the people of Baghdad. When we arrived, it was full of chaos and anarchy. Saddam's regime had been such a total tyranny that when it was removed, everything broke down. We rolled in to bring order.

We did this by building up much of Baghdad in ways that benefit the people for their future. This was no easy task. Often our missions were conducted in dangerous environments right in the face of terrorism and insurgency and frequent ambushes. Nonetheless, we were relentless in our projects, always facing down the enemies of freedom with our resolve and determination. Yes, we were afraid, but we knew that freedom is not free, and that this is a cause worth fighting for.

The Arab people appreciated this greatly. Not only did we have Baghdadis emboldened and empowered by what we did, but Arabs from other parts of the region came to help and to learn.

My battalion cleared a massive amount of weaponry left by Saddam's forces that included tens of thousands of explosives spread over several hundred sights in Baghdad and among hundreds of military vehicles. We completed several dozen major infrastructure projects that covered countless miles of roads, 224 neighborhood projects, and also extensive sanitation and irrigation enterprises. The most important were the major power stations such as Taji and Al Mansour, including over two-dozen sub-stations scattered throughout the city. Not only did we restore them, but we also improved them.

Many people make the mistake of calling this "rebuilding.” For the vast majority of the people, this was all new stuff that they had never enjoyed. For example, near the base that my unit was operating from there was a vast trash waste sight. It was heavily populated, and some of the people had never left it their whole lives. One boy I met there was 17.

We went on to repair and build 28 primary and secondary schools, as well as 67 projects to improve Baghdad University and Mustansariyah University, which included seven colleges, dormitories and building many internet and computer labs. We also filled them full with books from all of the seven liberal arts that distinguish American colleges.

To sustain these missions, my battalion had to conduct constant missions that involved clearing 96 roadside bombs and confronting dangerous elements, including conducting raids on enemy locations. It was all worth it.

Take note that the primary targets of all the terrorism and violence in Iraq are the Iraqi people and Arabs from Iraq's neighbors. Even the top anti-US and anti-United Nations terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before bombing the UN building in 2003, first hit the Jordanian Embassy. He did this because he knows that the biggest enemy he faces is not the US or the UN, but other Arabs benefiting and learning from what we have brought to Baghdad.

The Iraqi people are an extremely traumatized people. They suffered terribly from the 8-year Iran-Iraq War, and had to survive under the tyranny of Saddam. That is all they knew for much of their lives, and now suddenly they have this new freedom.

They are flocking to the information superhighway of radios, TV and internet to learn about the world they never knew before we came, and they are seeking to empower themselves as no Arab regime has allowed it's people to do as of yet. This is a very inspiring time. As such, it is also the most serious and threatening challenge to those who would keep the Arab people under tyrants and who would deprive Arab civilization of its full potential.

I remember the missions we conducted to restore and improve the Museum of Natural History in Baghdad. Baghdadis poured out to thank us and support us. All the time, however, from just thousands of enemies hell-bent to reverse these virtues for the 6 million people of Baghdad, we faced attacks. Well, we did our mission and now the millions who support us are benefiting.

This is no easy job, and the enemies we face have some advantages over us. That is why my battalion secured and turned over many major government buildings, hotels and banks to the new leaders of Iraq, and built 13 police stations in some of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad, such as in Sadr City.

When foreign jihadists and regime-holdovers ignited uprisings, my battalion along with my whole division was extended three more months after a year of service in Baghdad. We went right into the most dangerous areas of Baghdad, and down to Karbala and Najaf, to hold police stations, government buildings and other critical sights. It was very difficult facing a second hot summer in Iraq, and our loved ones back home grieved, but we did it and, over time, our enemies fell back because of our resolve.

The Iraqis are now in the front line in defending and advancing their new freedoms. The elections are just a step, but a giant step for Iraqis and the Arab world. Women are becoming empowered as never before, while minority groups all over the Arab world are finally getting a chance to make their cause for respect and liberation felt. Religious freedom and intellectual freedom are putting up a great struggle to succeed against some of the most vile and desperate forms of terrorist actions.

These are noble causes that we must support. They are opposed by all those elements in the Arab world that feel threatened by freedom and democracy. If we value our democracy and our own political freedom, however, we must not betray the Iraqi people, and from them the Arab people as a whole, by letting down on our commitment to see them succeed. Don't lose your confidence in America's mission in Iraq, and don't let the enemies of freedom deny Iraqis the dignity and respect that is a part of democracy.

As a soldier who saw the sacrifice and cost of this conflict with my own eyes, I am telling you it is a noble cause and one in which we should be supremely proud. Stay determined to see it through.

Labels:

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:15 PM

SinclairAction: Intransigent, But Why?

While preparing for a talk radio interview about the Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters issue, husband David noticed that the liberal activist group SinclairAction still has this graphic up on its website:

This seems at odds with the facts.

I commented about this graphic on January 8. To my mind, it should not have been up then, either, but one always has to allow some time for website changes. Four more days have passed, though, so we must assume the group means to keep insisting that Staples is boycotting Sinclair. Given Staples' insistence that this is not so, does SinclairAction's action reflect access to information to which we are not privy, or wishful thinking on its part?

Meanwhile. I continue to receive e-mails from Sinclair supporters who are waiting to see Staples advertise once again on Sinclair news broadcasts, such as this one:
Thank you for the Staples update.

Personally, I do not know which Staples person's version of this fiasco to believe. Until I am convinced that Staples is not acting politically against Sinclair Broadcasting, my purchase of a computer system from Staples will be held up and I'll shop elsewhere, likely at Reliable, for office products. This is admittedly not going to harm Staples' bottom line, as I'm a small business owner/operator. But I will sleep better knowing I am standing up for freedom of speech.

Thanks, again, for your efforts.

Harold M. Molter
Auburn, MI

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:54 PM

Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Letter from a Russian prison

Mikhail Khodorkovsky writes from a Russian prison, as published by the International Herald Tribune:
The destruction of Yukos is almost done. I did everything I could to prevent the authorities' personal animosity toward me from harming minority shareholders, ordinary employees and the country as a whole.

Half a year ago I offered to surrender my shares to satisfy the claims against the company. However, another way was chosen - that of a selective application of the laws, of retroactively imposing new legal standards and interpretations, of a straightforward and public destruction of the business community's confidence in arbitration courts and any authority in general.

The coordination and utter shamelessness of the measures taken by tax, law-enforcement and judicial organs and by companies linked to the government, as well as the unmitigated pressures put on managers and employees of the company whose only crime was that they once worked under Khodorkovsky, leave no doubt that the whole process was concocted...

It has become clear that not only political interests are involved, but others as well, since the methods used harm both the reputation of the authorities and the national economy. But those who concocted this affair don't seem to care about such trifles.

The issue today is not the fate of Yukos. It is probably impossible to save the company. The question is what lessons will the country and society draw from the Yukos case, whose finale has become the most senseless and destructive event for the national economy in all the time President Vladimir Putin has been in office...

Yes, over the past year, the $15 billion fortune of which Forbes wrote has almost reached zero, and it will soon become absolute zero. But I understood that this would happen, and I asked only that the company and its minority shareholders not be touched, since I felt a direct responsibility before the 150,000 Yukos employees, the 500,000 members of their families and the 30 million residents of cities and towns who depend on the smooth and uninterrupted operation of Yukos enterprises...

In 1995, when I and my team took over Yukos, the company was losing money, it had not paid wages for six months, and it was $3 billion in arrears on debt payments. Yukos was operating in only nine regions of Russia, extracting 40 million tons of oil a year, and the production was constantly falling.

By 2003, there were already Yukos operations in 50 Russian regions, annual oil production amounted to 80 million tons and was growing. Yukos was paying high and regular wages: up to 7,000 rubles a month in European Russia and up to 30,000 rubles in Siberia. The company was the second largest taxpayer in the country (after Gazprom), accounting for almost 5 percent of the federal budget.

I don't want to go in detail into what amazing imagination it took to invent the taxes that Yukos purportedly owes - according to experts at the Ministry of Taxation, Yukos should have paid more in taxes than it received in revenues. This will someday be cited as a bad joke in textbooks on taxation law, since they proved that oil production in Russia is not profitable. Bureaucrats will stop at nothing to redistribute property...

This is, indeed, the only possible and correct choice - the choice of freedom.

I have great pity for those authorities who sincerely believe that they are doing a good thing for the country, for the people. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Further down this road they will realize that repressive methods and the forced redistribution of wealth are not compatible with modern economic development. And they will not be able to limit this assault to Khodorkovsky, Yukos or the oligarchs - their victims will be many, including those who created this machinery....

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:51 PM

AP Rewrites History

The AP Begins a report today saying:
The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has quietly concluded without any evidence of the banned weapons that President Bush cited as justification for going to war, the White House said Wednesday...
So subtle, so wrong, and so damaging.

The war was never only about WMDs and the phrase "without any evidence" is incorrect.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 PM

Pittsburgh Steelers Resource

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue their all-but-inevitable acquistion of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, folks might find it handy to have this list of Pittsburgh-area blogs.

Meanwhile, kudos to Pittsburgh's rookie quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who announced Tuesday he will donate his first NFL playoff paycheck (January 15, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets) to the tsunami relief effort.

Some of you may not be rooting for the Steelers (rumor has it), but if you think about it, I have every confidence you will see the error of your ways.

Addendum (Jan. 15; 9 PM): Whew!

Addendum 2 (Jan. 23; 11 PM): Ouch.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:46 AM

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Everything I Know Is Wrong in Philadelphia Inquirer

Congratulations to Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong for being cited by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a resource on global warming.

Despite all the snow at the top of his blog, Sean has had some mighty good posts on global warming.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:37 PM

France: Hopeless Even When It Means Well

If the official French attitude toward the United States and the American military has frustrated you, you will very much appreciate this post on Bloggledygook.

Appreciate, that is, in a sad and perhaps pitiful kind of way. (It would be much nicer to appreciate competence and brilliance.)

If you like the Bloggledygook post, be sure to read the post Bloggledygook is writing about, for more details.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:29 PM

Peter Roff: Torture and Gonzales

Peter Roff of UPI has a standout opinion column out tonight on torture and Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales. It begins:
"Your college-age junior comes to you with plans to spend mid-winter break in Florida rather than come home. Against your better judgment but recognizing that all children eventually grow up and leave the nest, you assent and, grudgingly, even help out with some spending money.

With a kiss on the forehead, you see them off at the airport, but not before extracting a promise of a phone call as soon as the plane lands in south Florida. Traffic being what it is, the drive back from the airport take several hours. Drained, you can do little more than flop down in front of the television -- just in time to see a breaking news bulletin explaining that your child's plane was blown out of the sky over the Gulf of Mexico by what witnesses said looked to be a surface-to-air missile fired from a ship.

There are no survivors.

The subsequent investigation reveals terror-war detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, planned the attack. Had effective methods of interrogation been available to U.S. personnel, it could have been uncovered and prevented.

Now, do complaints that Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales might have placed the safety and security of U.S. citizens over the interests of captured detainees still bother you? Or are you grateful that he did?"
Read the whole thing here.

Addendum:: A e-mail I received about this post today reads:
Came across Amy Ridenour's endorsement of Peter Roff's argument that torture ought to be accepted based on a hypothetical attack conducted by Gitmo
prisoners, who in the fantasy would have given up their plan if they'd been tortured some more.

The fictional character could just has easily been killed by a drunk driver, and following the logic of this piece, Americans should reinstate prohibition.

Conservatives would hardly accept this kind of reasoning regarding gun control, yet it makes perfect sense to them as a justification for torture.

It's incredibly lazy thinking.

Chris Burgoyne
Reply: If you knew someone was about to get drunk, get in a car and kill someone, would you stop him? I would. Maybe Mr./Ms. Burgoyne would not? (Actually, he/she probably would.)

The gun control analogy is too far afield to apply. Furthermore, Mr. /Ms. Burgoyne ignores everything Peter Roff wrote about the word "torture" being "defined up."

But thanks for writing anyway.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:37 AM

Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters: Who's on First?

A very brief update on our coverage of Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters...

This article on the Staples affair ends on a funny note:
...As for how the issue will eventually be settled between Staples - which now says it will advertise during Sinclair's newscasts - and Media Matters, [Media Matters spokesman Sally] Aman is unsure.

"Frankly, I'm confused myself," she said.
(Maybe it would be less confusing if Media Matters would name names. Who are the Staples "officials" Media Matters says approved the original Media Matters press release making the claims about Staples that got all this started?)

Meanwhile, I received the following in my e-mail box Monday:
I called my Staples representative to inform him I was firing Staples. He gave me their 1-800 number for the office of the President. I called, their story was that they were not cancelling "all of their advertising on Sinclair" just on I think the news shows. I told her that had to be politically motivated and I would vote with my feet. I also advised her that I feel a larger share of their customer base would be against their move than would favor it. In my company, which I own, I have informed my people that I will not pay to Staples nor reimburse for receipts from Staples.

Perhaps Staples will more clearly understand the freedom of speech issue, and that it has to work on all sides of an issue.

I would have to hear Sinclair come out and declare that Staples is fully advertising as before this issue prior to any change in my position.

Sincerely,

Winston Crawford
So the confusion continues. I suggest we just wait and see. Staples will either advertise on Sinclair's news broadcasts this year, or it won't.

By now, Staples knows we all are watching.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:07 AM

No WASPs Need Visit

Maybe if you are white, middle-class, middle-aged and don't use a wheelchair the British government will still let you in if you pretend to need a wheelchair?

Which does add an ironic twist to the fact that these programs are called "walks..."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Monday, January 10, 2005

Michelle Malkin: Google News Blackout?

Michelle Malkin is wondering if Google News has a biased algorithm, since the CBS story is all over the Internet, yet the CBS report does not appear on Google's list of top U.S. news stories.

Here's my guess, and it is only a guess: The Google News algorithim may have been written to overlook the names of major news publications in stories. Otherwise, terms such as "CBS," Washington Post, etc. would end up with a high placement on Google news, because all the stories these institutions publish carry their name.

If I'm right, ordinarily, this is good. But it does not work very well when a publication name is also the subject of the story.

Just my two cents.

Addendum: UNCoRRELATED says: "Algorithms don't conspire" -- and explains.

Addendum 2 (1/11): There's a "Watching Google Like A Hawk" website (it linked to this post and Michelle's).

Who knew?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:25 PM

Rethinking No-Fault Divorce

Boots and Sabers makes a good point about this article on rethinking no-fault divorce.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:25 AM

Where is Putin Taking Russia?

Mark McDonald of Knight Ridder provides an unhappy assessment:
"We're in a downward spiral, and it's a tragedy," said Alexei Kondaurov, a former KGB general who's now a millionaire businessman and an opposition member of the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament. "I have no illusions about who rules Russia and what goes on here. All my forecasts are negative."

Nikolai Zlobin, an analyst with the Center for Defense Information, a global-security research center based in Washington, thinks "the United States no longer regards Russia as a democratic country ... and Putin is no longer perceived as a democrat in the Western sense of the word."
(I can't believe I just quoted both a former KGB general and the Center for Defense Information -- in both cases, probably a first for me.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:17 AM

Interesting Concept, But It Will Never Catch On

Why isn't Al Gore's name on this e-mail?

Hat tip: Slashdot.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:48 AM

Malpractice Crisis is Real

This USA Today editorial says:
Chris Heffner, a neurosurgeon in southern Illinois, stopped treating head-trauma patients when his annual malpractice insurance premium doubled to $265,000. With only two neurosurgeons in the area, brain-trauma victims now have to be airlifted to St. Louis...

The malpractice crisis is real, though concentrated in high-risk specialties. One in seven obstetricians/gynecologists have stopped delivering babies, and three-quarters have been sued at least once, a 2003 survey found. Physicians have faced double-digit-plus premium increases for years.

We all pay for this broken system. High premiums force physicians and hospitals to raise fees. Doctors engage in defensive medicine, performing unnecessary tests that might protect them in a lawsuit. That costs at least $60 billion a year, notes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And patients can have a harder time getting care, even in urgent circumstances.

Reform measures passed the House of Representatives last year but failed in the Senate. It's an uphill battle as trial lawyers allied with Democrats duel the insurance and medical industries, which favor Republicans...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:35 AM

Child Free

I know I just linked to Eric Berlin yesterday, so I probably should not do it again so soon, but he has an eye-popping post up about people who seemingly hate children.

He's not kidding, either. I visited the website he mentioned and the very first post I saw urged donations to charities aiding animals hurt by the tsunami: "...if you're tired of the hoopla about the children you can send something to help the nonhuman victims."

Or this post, the point of which seems to be that adults should be rude to well-behaved children on commercial airlines.

A repeated theme seems to be frustration with friends who have kids and then don't have as much time to "hang out" with them. (Tragic, really.)

Eric has more examples.

I could go on about how hostile and self-centered (and in some instances, scary) these people seem, but I suspect I'd be overstating the obvious.

Ebay was advertising on this site when I was there, though I doubt Ebay even realizes it. Probably part of a package ad buy. The ad seemed incongruous, though, Ebay being a good place to get bargains to help raise kids... You know, the kids who will grow up to join the military to defend the freedoms of these yahoos, and pay the Social Security taxes necessary to feed them as they slide ever further into their dotage...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:13 AM

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Regret The Error: Rich Guys Look Alike...

Regret the Error has found a funny error in the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:14 AM

Arguments Against Social Security Privatization Demolished

Eric Berlin quotes and then demolishes a New York Times op-ed against Social Security privatization.

Sample comments from a piece that deserves to be read by everyone:
If you, as an individual, put a certain amount of money into the Social Security fund, and later in life you receive benefits whose value is less than that contribution... how is that good?
and
If the stock market has provided better returns than treasury bills since damn near the beginning of time, which I believe is the case, then I can live with the idea of "no guarantee."
and
Which do you think is more likely to be transparent: A private company beholden to its customers and stockholders, or a government program that you can't get out of no matter what?
and
Man, do I hate comparisons between casinos and the stock market. It's so easy, and so wrong. The stock market trends upwards every year and has since its creation. If you, as a young person, put money in a fund that tracks the S&P 500 (diversification! risk management! 500 stocks at once!), you will, when you retire, have more money in your possession when you retire 25 years later. If you go to the casino every week for those 25 years, you will be broke.
Read the whole thing.

Addendum: Hmmm.... I see that Paulie at The Commons at Paulie World tried to do a trackback to this post and it did not work. Maybe my trackback system isn't operating properly... Thanks for trying, though, Paulie. Tells me I have a problem, even though I haven't a clue why.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Ryan Sager: Law and the Armstrong Williams Case

I've been reading various bloggers' takes on the Armstrong Williams case (La Shawn Barber, Ramblings' Journal, Booker Rising, Michelle Malkin, Croooow Blog, Tapscott's Copy Desk, Joust the Facts, She Who Will Be Obeyed! and many, many others), but I didn't see anyone address the issue I was wondering about: What does the law actually say about the legality of the kind of payments the Department of Education made?

That's is, until I saw Ryan Sager's blog, Miscellaneous Objections. Check it out if you are past the outrage stage and what to learn what the law actually says.

It seems to me the law itself is the paramount issue. If this is legal, and folks don't think it should be (as I don't), the law should be changed. If it isn't legal and it happened anyway, why and how can it be stopped? It is easy enough to say Armstrong should not have quietly taken the payments, but he's still just one person. If he stops, that doesn't stop the practice by anyone else, now and in the future.

As a side note, Mark Tapscott's coverage of this includes some very useful information and a number of links about filing FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests without paying legal fees. Some folks might want to bookmark it.

Oh, and as another side note, since The National Center for Public Policy Research sponsors Project 21, the national leadership group of black conservatives: The National Center/Project 21 has never received, nor applied for, federal funding nor funding from any state.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:17 AM

Trackbacks Enabled?

Thanks to Diggers Realm, which I learned about from The Sparse Matrix, I learned how to add a trackback feature to this blog for the first time ever.

At least, I think I have... I'll try a test. If you don't see a trackback below this post, I failed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Penn State: Deer Hunting Mecca

When I saw this post on Sic Semper Tyrannis, I thought: What, no Penn State?

Penn State indeed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:18 PM

Flopping Aces: Putin the Dictator

Flopping Aces has a very thought-provoking and informative post up today about the future of Russia under Vladimir Putin.

Curt has excerpts from and links to pieces by historian Niall Ferguson and bloggers at The Moderate Voice, One Step at a Time, and Untimely Thoughts.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:14 PM

Jobs Market Responds to Lower Tax Rates

A little something to read for those liberals who claim there is nothing wrong with Social Security that couldn't be repaired by repealing President Bush's tax cuts. The tax cuts improved the economy, which helps Social Security.

It just doesn't help it enough.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:56 PM

Shelia Jackson Lee in Fine Shape

U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee apparently claims to be 140 years old.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:10 AM

Yet More Evidence, Blogged

Do read The Diplomad if you aren't convinced we should leave the U.N.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:09 AM

Wacky Warning Labels

Some very funny warning labels, brought to you by trial lawyers Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:08 AM

Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters: Opinion Roundup

The Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters story continues...

When we last visited our cast of characters, Staples was adamant that it is non-political and has not decided to cease advertising on Sinclair news. Media Matters was adamant that Staples had made an ad decision "based in part on the activism generated by SinclairAction.com," and claimed "Staples, Inc. officials reviewed, edited, and approved the Media Matters press release of January 4, 2005, in both draft and final form." And Sinclair (see below) was not taking any of this lying down.

My opinion: Whatever happened earlier, I now very much doubt Staples has a political agenda. That was the core issue with me, and failing some unexpected development in this story, I consider that aspect settled.

As a matter of interest, I am curious about the Media Matters claim that Staples officials (plural!) approved their January 4 press release. I'd like to know more, and wonder: Why is Media Matters being so vague about this? Name names, why don'tja?

Oh, and if I were running SinclairAction (there's a dubious proposition) I would not still have this


on my website as of January 8.

Pending further developments in this case, which may or may not be forthcoming, here's a roundup of recent statements and commentary:

Sinclair speaks:

Sinclair Broadcast Group makes it clear it means business.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) is pleased to note that in a press release issued on January 6, 2005 and as posted on their website (www.staples.com), office supply retailer Staples, Inc. states that it intends to continue to advertise on Sinclair television stations and has no policy against advertising in Sinclair news programming... The clarification of Staples' media buying process as it relates to Sinclair directly contradicts statements made by several organizations with what appear to be far-left leaning political agendas who have engaged in an ongoing Internet-based campaign of harassment against Sinclair. Notwithstanding the clear message from Staples, these organizations continue to claim that their actions have caused Staples to discontinue advertising on Sinclair stations. Obviously these claims are not accurate.
And ups the ante:
Although Sinclair respects the rights of these organizations to voice their opinions, we find inappropriate that their tactics include advocating their constituency to contact our advertisers in a blatant attempt to use economic pressure to censor the speech of Sinclair. Moreover, the continued misrepresentation of the facts surrounding any company's advertising practices regarding Sinclair stations constitutes "trade defamation" which would entitle Sinclair to seek damages in a court of law. Sinclair will aggressively pursue any organization or any individual which engages in such defamation, including individuals who lend their names to mass e-mail campaigns spreading such misinformation.
Mainstream press confirms Friday what we posted Thursday (but then, we don't have their resources):
CBS, among others, is reporting Staples will continue to advertise on Sinclair, including Sinclair news broadcasts.
Bloggers and websites have the fun discussions:
WEBCommentary says: Do NOT boycott Staples.

Balloon Juice has a recap and a good debate in comments.

Mr. Blonde's Garage uses Google cache on SinclairAction, while Media Matters ally Oliver Willis debates him in the comments section.

Bloggledygook begins: "Well, looks like the Staples Affair just doesn't want to quit. David Brock posts a letter to Staples CEO Ron Sargent more or less accusing him of lying..."

Considerettes has lots to say.

Patterico still has questions.

CNSNews.com reporter Susan Jones has been covering the story daily, as has Talon News and The Redhunter.
A correspondent shares a recent e-mail from Staples:

Harold M. Molter of Auburn, MI writes to share the response he received when he sent an email to Staples:
Thank you for sharing your feedback with us. Our media buying process with Sinclair Broadcasting stations has recently been misrepresented by an organization with no affiliation to Staples. Staples regularly drops and adds specific programs from our media buying schedule, as we evaluate and adjust how to best reach our customers. We do not let political agendas drive our media buying decisions.

Staples does not support any political party. We advertise with a variety of media outlets, but do not necessarily share the same views of these organizations or what they report. As we have done for a number of years, Staples will continue to advertise on Sinclair Broadcasting stations.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback.

Staples
A gracious note, considering that Staples has probably had more feedback than it ever wanted this week.

Folks, I hope the Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters story is winding down. If not, I will post updates here, but this blog is going to return to covering other issues.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:31 AM

Friday, January 07, 2005

Staples - Sinclair: Media Matters Strikes Back

Curiouser and curiouser. Media Matters has posted a letter to Staples CEO Ron Sargent on its website saying "Staples, Inc. officials reviewed, edited, and approved the Media Matters press release of January 4, 2005, in both draft and final form."

This is the Media Matters press release that begins:
Media Matters for America today announced that Staples, Inc. will no longer advertise on local news programming on Sinclair Broadcast Group TV stations nationwide. Citing an effort to be responsive to customer concerns about Sinclair's injection of partisan conservative politics into its nightly newscasts, Staples, Inc. attributed its decision in part to the response the company received from customers visiting the SinclairAction.com website...
I just a moment ago telephoned Paul Capelli of Staples for his reaction. I spoke with his assistant, who said he was on the other line. I hope to hear back from him soon.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 PM

Thursday, January 06, 2005

No Sinclair Boycott, Staples Says -- Media Matters Report "Misrepresented" Facts, Company Spokeman Says

As promised, here is a more detailed description of my conversation this evening with Staples spokesman Paul Capelli. I wrote it as a press statement and we are releasing it as one. (It is only fair, as we issued a press statement yesterday critical of Staples.)
No Boycott of Sinclair, Staples Says; Staples Says Media Matters Misrepresented Situation, Says Staples is a "Victim"

Office supply retailer Staples, Inc. is denying allegations made by a left-wing activist group that Staples is withdrawing advertising from news programs run by Sinclair Broadcasting as a result of the political content of the newscasts.

Staples Spokesman Paul Capelli told the National Center in a January 6 phone call that the organization Media Matters had "misrepresented" the facts about Staples' advertising policy regarding Sinclair. Capelli referred to Staples as a "victim" of this misrepresentation, saying Staples is "nonpolitical."

In a January 4 press release, Media Matters had said: "Citing an effort to be responsive to customer concerns about Sinclair's injection of partisan conservative politics into its nightly newscasts, Staples, Inc. attributed its decision [to cease advertising on Sinclair news January 10] in part to the response the company received from customers visiting the SinclairAction.com website."

Numerous mainstream news outlets ran stories saying Staples had decided to halt advertising on Sinclair news shows, and Internet websites such as the Drudge Report, blogs, and talk radio picked up the story. Some were highly critical of Staples, believing it had taken sides with the left against a broadcaster perceived as conservative.

Capelli, however, told The National Center that Staples stopped advertising on Sinclair news on January 10 because a previously scheduled ad campaign targeted to the Christmas season had ended. A new ad campaign, consisting of a different combination of ad buys, on a "back to work" theme had previously been scheduled to replace the ad campaign utilizing Sinclair news.

The Media Matters press release supplied this statement as its support of its report about Staples' plans: "Staples, Inc. recently replied via email to consumers who registered concerns about Sinclair newscasts, stating: 'As a result of Staples' ongoing review of its advertising media buy activity, Staples will no longer be airing advertising on any Sinclair station's local news programs as of Jan 10, 2005.'"

The Boston Globe reported on January 6 that Media Matters President David Brock told them Media Matters confirmed the information in the e-mail its activists received from Staples before issuing the press release. The Globe article does not make clear, however, what information Media Matters confirmed -- the fact that the Sinclair news ad buy was ending January 10, or the reason it is ending.

Capelli said Staples expects to spend at least as much on Sinclair ad buys in 2005 as in 2004, and perhaps more. He explicitly confirmed that Sinclair news programming would not be excluded from their 2005 plans.

Politics, Capelli said, has nothing to do with Staples' advertising decisions. The company tries had to be responsive to customer concerns, Capelli said, but is wholly nonpolitical.

Late January 6, the following statement still appeared on the website of Media Matters: "Citing an effort to be responsive to customer concerns over Sinclair's injection of partisanship into its nightly newscasts, Staples, Inc., announced it will no longer advertise on local news programming on Sinclair stations nationwide."

The National Center challenges Media Matters to provide conclusive evidence the statement on its website is true.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free market organization, briefly ceased purchases from Staples following an initial news report in the Washington Post leading it to believe Staples' had decided to boycott conservative programming. The National Center no longer believes the facts of this case warrant a conservative boycott of Staples.

Additional updates to this story, including any response The National Center receives from Staples, will be made available on The National Center's blog.

For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 or [email protected] or visit The National Center's website at www.nationalcenter.org.
I do look forward to seeing how Media Matters responds. Can it provide evidence that Staples actually is ending its current advertising campaing on Sinclair news in part because of on customer concerns about "partisanship"? I'll need to see the evidence to believe it.

Addendum: This is my take on what happened here. I suspect Staples originally was too clever by half. It sent emails to lefties that said that its current ad on Sinclair news would end 1/10 -- apparently phrased to maximize the likelihood that the lefties would be happy with the email without Staples actually having to do what the leftie wanted.

Probably seemed like good customer relations at the time.

The plan blew up when Media Matters put out a press release declaring victory, and the right started asking questions.

Staples could no longer have it both ways, but it gamely tried to by saying both that it was not political and that it respects its customers' wishes (hence the news stories Wednesday). Didn't work.

Now, just to regain the repution it had as nonpolitical just a few days ago, Staples has had to publicly divorce itself from the lefties it unwittingly married. Meanwhile, Media Matters is exposed for declaring victory without actually (as far as we can tell) having any proof Staples ever did anything it wasn't planning to do with its ad buys.

That's my take on it, anyway. Perhaps new information -- such as proof from Media Matters that Staples explictly said it boycotting Sinclair news out of concern that Sinclair news might be excessively partisan -- will yet develop.

Addendum 2 1:36 PM January 7: Media Matters strikes back here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:17 PM

Staples' Sinclair Boycott Story Updated

We've updated the Staples-Sinclair story post here.

The latest update we posted says:

Addendum 2 6:41 PM: Paul Capelli of Staples just returned my call. I am posting this quick to get out the basic message, and will elaborate ASAP with an additional update with details.

Basically, it was a good call. Staples believes the facts have been misrepresented by MediaMatters.org. Staples is NOT, according to Paul Capelli, boycotting or declining to purchase future advertising from Sinclair Broadcasting or from Sinclair News.

I wanted to get this online, but will post soon with more details...

Addendum: See above for more on the Paul Capelli conversation.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:41 PM

Social Security Blogging

Deinonychus Antirrhopus has some thoughtful posts on Social Security reform.

If you visit, read the comments, too. Some are excellent.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:12 AM

Good Reading

If you have not visited Varifrank to read Today, I was "Unprofessional"..., you are missing a good post.

This Varifrank post is noteworthy, too.

As is this about the sudden death of a co-worker.

Hat tip: The Anchoress, another blog new to me that is really good.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Staples Boycotts Sinclair; Should CBS Be Next?

Husband David has just sent the following e-mail to Owen Davis of Staples, in response to news stories quoting Davis saying Staples now intends to withdraw ads buys from Sinclair News:
Dear Mr. Davis,

I read in today's Washington Post that Staples, Inc. pulled its advertising from Sinclair Broadcast news programming after it received complaints about perceived "right-wing" bias in Sinclair's programs. You are quoted in the article.

Please be advised that we have cancelled our Staples account and will not reinstate it unless we hear from you:

1. That the report is untrue, or

2. That Staples, Inc. is canceling advertising on all programs perceived as biased -- regardless of whether they are biased to the left or to the right. If this is the case, we'll certainly have some nominations to forward.

You should further be advised that this email is being posted on our organization's blog. We would be happy to post your reply there as well.

If "concerns expressed by [your] customers" are truly taken into account in Staples advertising decisions, as you suggested in the Post article, we'd be happy to send concerns in your direction.

David Ridenour
Vice President
The National Center for Public Policy Research
In addition, I contacted Staples by telephone about 4:30 PM Eastern. I was told no one was available to speak with me in public relations, but a friendly person took my name and number and promised someone would call me back tomorrow. I also left a voice mail on Mr. Davis' direct line. I asked him to call back as we have a number of questions, including: 1) Are the newspaper stories accurate? And, if so, 2) if Staples received a large number of e-mails from customers concerned about Staples advertising on CBS, would Staples stop advertising on CBS? I have more questions, but those are the two I left on his message.

I will post an addendum to this blog post when and if we receive responses from Staples regarding the advertising boycott.

For those who might think Staples should boycott CBS, or any other media for that matter, here are the three Staples e-mail addresses we presently have: Customer Service, Investor Relations, and spokesman Owen Davis. According to the Washington Post, Staples pays a great deal of attention to the emails it receives from customers.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is ending purchases from Staples until/unless we learn that Staples is not biased against conservatives. (In all fairness, it may be that they are not biased, which is why we did our best to reach them by telephone before we posted this on our blog, and why we will post any response we receive from them here.) Should others be joining us in taking their office supply purchases elsewhere, we can recommend Reliable Office Supplies. To be frank, we know nothing about Reliable's politics, if any, but The National Center has used them for over 20 years and been very satisfied. Reliable may be less well known, but it has national coverage, gets our stuff delivered to us very fast, their prices are good, and as far as I know, they have roughly the same inventory that Staples carries. So, if you are used to getting your office supplies delivered from Staples, and aren't quite sure right now if you want to continue to do so, be aware that you do have options. I know folks who run businesses can't simply drop suppliers without thinking through the consequences -- they need replacement suppliers, for one thing.

If interested, watch this post for updates. And feel free to e-mail me about this, especially if you have information (be sure to tell me if I can't post the information, or if you want to be anonymous).

Addendum 1/5/05 5:45 PM: Well, it has been 25 hours plus, and neither our call to Staples public relations generally nor our call to Owen Davis specifically has been returned. I said I'd give Staples 24 hours before concluding that their unresponsiveness meant anything, but they have used that time up now. Failing a response, I now conclude that Staples either 1) believes communication would make them look worse than they already look, or 2) talks to the mainstream media but not to this blog (I identified myself as the CEO of a conservative Washington think-tank, a blogger and a columnist with Staples), or 3) is too confused about life to know what to do.

Staples did post a statement on its website. I'll reprint it in full, all the better to fisk it (Staples, if you mind the copyright infringement, give me a call):
Statement about Staples media buying and Sinclair Broadcasting

In response to recent reports about Staples media buying and Sinclair Broadcasting, Staples has the following statement:

Our media buying process with Sinclair Broadcasting stations has recently been misrepresented by an organization with no affiliation to Staples. Staples regularly drops and adds specific programs from our media buying schedule, as we evaluate and adjust how to best reach our customers.

Staples does not support any political party. We advertise with a variety of media outlets, but do not necessarily share the same views of these organizations or what they report. As we have done for a number of years, Staples will continue to advertise on Sinclair Broadcasting stations.

Contact: Paul Capelli, 508-253-8530
[email protected]
Staples appears to be wanting to have it both ways here. They won't tell us which group "misrepresented" their action (one could speculate that it is MediaMatters.org, but we can't base conclusions on speculation -- for all we know, it is us), and they don't say what was "misrepresented." Staples doesn't deny media reports that it is withdrawing advertising from Sinclair News (seems to want to fudge the subject in its last sentence), and it does not claim its spokesman was misquoted in mainstream media reports that wishes of customers (presumably, e-mails from left-wing activists) played some role in its advertising decisions.

Our office was contacted today by both bloggers and talk radio; I have to think that quite a few conservatives are following the issue casually and that it will affect their impression of Staples. If I ran Staples, I'd stop the vague statements, start communicating, and be very clear about their policy. If they truly are nonpolitical yet made a mistake here, OK. Just say so. If they are political, that's their right. Companies are allowed to be.

Let me conclude this update with some links to what others have written about this today:
Bloggledygook did a little research to discover whether Staples CEO donated to Kerry or to Bush last year. The answer is "yes," go to Bloggledygook to see how much and whom.

The Redhunter has a lot to say, including:
What really irks me about all this is how cravenly Staples seems to have capitulated to this pressure campaign. Granted their first responsibility is to their stockholders. No doubt, therefore, the executives at Staples were looking to avoid financial loss. But they have miscalculated. This is a game that two can play, and conservatives can shop at office supply retailers other than Staples.
Dissecting Leftism suggest we help Staples "nip such nonsense in the bud" with a boycott and, perhaps, pickets.

CNSNews.com has a news story by Susan Jones.

Right Voices has a discussion going, with one commenter noting the irony that Sinclair operates some CBS stations.

Considerettes thinks Staples should be asked to stop advertising on NBC "for airing gossip about the Bushes from Kitty Kelley for 3 days straight on the 'Today' show."

WEBCommentary.com is amazed: "It is inconceivable that Staples would willingly throw away loyal customers to satisfy a bunch of sore losers on the Left. Yet that is, apparently, exactly what Staples has done!"

Cranky Neocon has some advice, plus this: "In related news, I have spent the last three years boycotting snotty, barely-sentient Staples clerks. The service was so consistently bad across two stores that I concluded that blank stares and shoulder-shrugs must be in the training manual." (If you visit, be sure to read the first comment under this post for a laugh.)

Common Sense Runs Wild thinks we should all contact Staples with questions. (And now has a second post here.)

Evangelical Outpost recaps the events that made the left angry with Sinclair.
If any other bloggers have weighed in, as I susopect is the case, feel free to e-mail me and, time permitting, I'll add a link to your post here.

Addendum 2 6:41 PM: Paul Capelli of Staples just returned my call. I am posting this quick to get out the basic message, and will elaborate ASAP with an additional update with details.

Basically, it was a good call. Staples believes the facts have been misrepresented by MediaMatters.org. Staples is NOT, according to Paul Capelli, boycotting or declining to purchase future advertising from Sinclair Broadcasting or from Sinclair News.

I wanted to get this online, but will post soon with more details...

Addendum 3 11:21 PM: See above for more on the Paul Capelli conversation, including the nuts and bolts of what he told me and some additional context.

Addendum 4 1:36 PM January 7: Media Matters strikes back here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:04 PM

Easy Retirement Planning

Rich Tucker of the Heritage Foundation has the world's easiest retirement plan. Every year, he writes himself an IOU.

(He may have gotten the idea from this.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:15 AM

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Putin Critic Illarionov Demoted

Bad news: Vladimir Putin has demoted Andrei Illarionov, who differed publicly with Putin on global warming, the Yukos seizure, the presidential election in Ukraine and numerous other economic and political issues.

Good news: Illarionov wasn't sent to a gulag.

(One must look for the positive whenever possible.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:40 AM

American Stinginess and U.N. Uselessness

Ed Haislmaier sent over this link to an opinion piece by Mark Steyn about the tsunami.

Sample line:
But the waters recede and the familiar contours of the political landscape re-emerge - in this case, the need to fit everything to the Great Universal Theory of the age, that whatever happens, the real issue is the rottenness of America.
Another sample:
If America were to emulate Ireland and Norway, there'd be a lot more dead Indonesians and Sri Lankans.
And:
So American personnel in American planes and American ships will deliver American food and American medicine and implement an American relief plan, but it's still a "UN-led effort." That seems to be enough for Kofi. His "moral authority" is intact, and Guardian columnists and Telegraph readers can still bash the Yanks for their stinginess. Everybody's happy.
Remind me: Why are we in the U.N?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

Monday, January 03, 2005

House GOP Rule Change Reversed

Looks like Professor Bainbridge is getting his wish: Any member of the U.S. House GOP leadership who is indicted by a grand jury once again automatically will lose his or her post, even if members of the Caucus believe the charges are hogwash.

Here's part of how Roll Call is covering the story tonight:
Retreating in the face of a political furor and trepidation within their ranks, House GOP leaders surprisingly reversed themselves Monday night and reinstituted a party rule that requires any member of the leadership who is indicted to step down from his or her post. The rule change was originally made in late 2004 to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who is under investigation for his role in influencing 2002 state legislative races in Texas...

After weeks of political attacks from Democrats and government watchdog groups, DeLay himself offered the proposal to restore GOP Conference rules on indicted leaders during a meeting of all House Republicans on Monday night. It was accepted unanimously.

"[DeLay] felt that the arguments made this fall were still legitimate, but that the best thing for us was to restore the old rule and deny Democrats their lone issue," said Jonathan Grella, DeLay's spokesman.

Another top House GOP aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the reasons for the abrupt about-face were obvious. "The unsophisticated, transparent game the Democrats want to play, we will not partake in it," said the GOP aide. Democrats from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) down had been bashing Republicans on the indictment rule change since it was adopted Nov. 17.

Democrats immediately claimed a political victory Monday night.

"Even for the Republicans, it was too hot for them to handle," said Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman...
Had it been up to me, I would have required an automatic, confidential vote of confidence by the entire caucus anytime a member of the leadership is indicted, with the expection that this nearly always would result in a leader losing his or her post. (I made some of my arguments about this in November in posts here and here.) I also, as anyone who read this recent post can tell, take a dim view of other branches of government taking over authority that rightly belongs to legislatures. I'm uncomfortable with the notion that a grand jury should have the de facto authority to determine who is in our Congressional leadership.

But this is Washington, and politics is politics, and the rule change looked bad. So it goes.

Addendum: Received this amusing e-mail regarding the House GOP's November decision to adopt the ethics/indictment rule change, and its January decision to reverse itself:
Whoa, wait a minute.... First they voted for it, then they voted against it?

Hummm.....

Debbie Swift

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:29 PM

Blog of Brian McGinnis: Tips

The one for crayons caught my eye.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:02 PM

U.N. Claiming False Credit?

The United Nations may be trying to claim credit for tsunami relief work it is not doing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:04 PM

Archbishop of Canterbury Believes in God

Couldn't help but notice the article headlined on Lucianne.com just now saying the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't believe in God.



I know very little about this particular Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams), but when I read the January 2 Telegraph piece Lucianne.com refers to, I don't see that he says anything of the kind.

I suspect some folks are drawing conclusions from headlines. Never do that, especially on opinion pieces. They only rarely are written by the author, and often are written by someone who hasn't read the essay.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:54 AM

How Much Americans are Giving

This blog seems to be keeping close track of the amount Americans have donated privately to tsunami-related humanitarian aid programs.

Check the box at the top left with the picture of President Bush flanked by flags for a total and the PDF link to see how the total was determined.

Check the blog itself for additional interesting information on the topic.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Michael Crichton Bribed by Rupert Murdoch to Question Global Warming, Privacy Group Says

This guy needs to calm down for the sake of his own health.

How does the Electronic Privacy Information Center know Michael Crichton's on the take from Murdoch, anyway? Do they have Crichton and Murdoch under surveillance?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:38 AM

Don't Read Captain's Quarters Today

This post on Captain's Quarters, "Anti-Tobacco Efforts Get A Little Weird," is amusing, but don't risk the danger of reading it unless you are a trial lawyer or a state attorney general.

The powers that be decided long ago that voters and consumers should have little say when it comes to our national and local tobacco policies. That -- along with lust for money, fame and power -- is why they decided that tobacco-related issues should be settled in courtrooms, instead of by legislatures.

So don't read Captain Ed's post. You aren't worthy, and thus you may be injured (either by the consequences of making the wrong decision on the policy about which he editorializes or by unaccustomed pressure on your brain). Smarter people (so smart some of them got paid tens of millions for just one legal case) will decide how the tobacco issue will be handled.

We are serfs. Get used to it. Enjoy it, even. Just don't have a smoke. Or, rather, do. The sanctimonious states are addicted to tobacco money.

Addendum: Sharing some reader mail on this post:
Dear Amy,

This is a response to your smoking post. Here in Pennsylvania proceeds from the jacked up taxes on cigarettes are supposed to go for health insurance for poor kids. I know smoking is unhealthy but, by continuing the habit, I am doing it for the children.

I have one lit now,

Paul Phillips
Royersford, PA

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:07 AM

Revamping Social Security

This Washington Post story by Jonathan Weisman, "Revamping Social Security," isn't written precisely the way I would have done it, but it is very much worth reading.

Much of the piece is stuck in the "do we need to rescue Social Security?" mode, which is a question we should be looking at only in our rear view mirrors. The article, however, ends on a very good note with a quote from Charles Blahous of the White House saying: "We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard than a temporary fix...")

(A higher standard than intergenerational welfare dependency would be nice, too.)

The irony that Social Security supposedly was designed to protect workers is nicely and subtlety underscored in this quote, also from Blahous: "...it's not much consolation to the worker of 2025 that there was an understanding in 1983 that he foot the bill."

The Washington Post, for good and ill, plays an influential role in setting the Congressional agenda. When the Post takes an issue seriously, that issue tends to get attention. Placement of a story of this kind in the Sunday edition, even if on page 8, is an indicator that establishment Washington is beginning to prepare for the possibility of real work on Social Security.

The article begins:
In just 14 years, the nation's Social Security system is projected to reach a day of reckoning: Retiree benefits will exceed payroll tax receipts, and to pay its bills the system will have to begin redeeming billions of dollars in special Treasury bonds that have piled up in its trust fund. To redeem those bonds, which represent money taken in years when Social Security ran a surplus and used for other government operations, the federal government would likely have to cut other programs, raise taxes or borrow more money.
Continue reading here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:40 AM

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Yukos: Who's On First?

Yukos says the German government of Gerhard Schroeder is helping Vladimir Putin finance the Russian state's takeover of Yukos assets, the UK Independent reports.

Meanwhile, a top aide to Putin attended the trial of ex-Yukos CEO and Founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Moscow Friday, UPI says.

When following the Yukos saga, one increasingly needs a scorecard to remember which people are on which team.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:49 AM

Top Ten Political Blogs

LoveToKnow announces the top ten political blogs, in the opinion of their editors.

Actually, since they select ten blogs from the right and ten from the left, it is the top twenty political blogs... but who's counting?

...Just thought I would ring in the new year on a nice note.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

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