Monday, February 28, 2005

Changing Social Security: The Impact on African Americans

Horace Cooper, a member of Project 21 and also a member of The National Center's board of directors, will be a panelist at a Changing Social Security: The Impact on African Americans forum tomorrow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (10 AM to noon).

Other panelists include Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), AARP Policy Director John Rother, Dr. Maya Rockeymore of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Dr. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research.

Derek McGinty will serve as moderator.

Horace will be the only participant representing a conservative/free-market point of view, so he'll need to take his vitamins tomorrow morning!

Addendum (3/5/05): The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has announced that the audio for the conference is available online for those who wish to listen in.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:55 PM

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Vladimir Putin May Need to Get Out More

This story, by John F. Dickerson in the March 7 edition of Time magazine, is amazing:
George Bush knew Vladimir Putin would be defensive when Bush brought up the pace of democratic reform in Russia in their private meeting at the end of Bush's four-day, three-city tour of Europe. But when Bush talked about the Kremlin's crackdown on the media and explained that democracies require a free press, the Russian leader gave a rebuttal that left the President nonplussed. If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. "Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather," says a senior Administration official. "It was like something out of 1984."

The Russians did not let the matter drop. Later, during the leaders' joint press conference, one of the questioners Putin called on asked Bush about the very same firings, a coincidence the White House assumed had been orchestrated...
The article says the Administration is trying to fight this level of "misinformation" by "struggling to build relationships that go beyond Putin."

If this story is true, it explains a great deal.

Hat tip: Drudge Report.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:51 PM

Squaring the Boston Globe: Getting Winston's Legacy Wrong

I love this piece about a Boston Globe writer who tries to use history to attack President Bush, but gets his history all wrong.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:41 PM

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Portland Home Prices: Higher Than Necessary?

An Oregon Congressman apparently is offended by National Center Policy Analyst Ryan Balis' observation in the Washington Post that "smart growth" anti-sprawl policies in Portland, Oregon have tended to push housing costs higher.

The Congressman responds with his own letter to the Post:
In his Feb. 9 letter, "The Cost of Containing Sprawl," Ryan Balis wrote: "Suppressing housing development as demand for it grows will cause prices to skyrocket. This is evident in Portland, Ore., long considered a model for 'smart growth' planning."

According to the National Association of Realtors' Web site, the median price for a single-family home in the Portland region in the third quarter of 2004 was $215,000. This compared favorably to the cost of homes in sprawling Denver, $241,800 (second-quarter data); Las Vegas, $283,200; and the Washington area, $362,400. Also, The Post has run several articles about skyrocketing housing prices in Northern Virginia, an area known for its lack of growth-management policies.

Sprawling onto unlimited supplies of land has never made housing affordable and never will. Portland's housing remains relatively affordable in large part because its smart-growth policies have curbed sprawl onto farmland and made it easier to build more types of housing on less land inside the urban-growth boundary. The result is a more livable community -- and less expensive housing. Indeed, Portland's housing prices are substantially lower than those of every West Coast city from San Diego to Seattle.

U.S. Representative (D-Ore.)
Says Ryan:
Congressman Earl Blumenauer claimed the following: "Portland's housing prices are substantially lower than those of every West Coast city from San Diego to Seattle." However, a just released housing affordability study by the National Association of Home Builders placed at least three West Coast metro areas ahead of Portland for the 4th quarter of 2004: Salem, Oregon; Olympia, Washington and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon.
My two cents: The Congressman is mixing apples with oranges. Knowing that Denver's home prices are higher than Portland's tells us nothing about the impact of "smart growth" policies on Portland prices. Furthermore, the Congressman's contention, for which he provides no support, that reducing the available supply of land for homebuilding reduces home prices violates the law of supply and demand.

We still contend: "Smart growth" policies tend to increase home prices, making homeownership more difficult for lower-income individuals and families. But we agree with the Congressman on one thing: When they do find a way to buy a home, the homes will probably be built on smaller lots.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:57 AM

Friday, February 25, 2005

Michelle Malkin: Bone Marrow Donors Needed

Michelle Malkin is publicizing a call for Type O blood donors to join a bone marrow registry in order to help a desperately-ill Marine.

As my blood is Type O-, the "universal donor" type that is considered liquid gold to vampires, I've made a point of giving blood many times. Also, back in the 80s, I joined the bone marrow registry at the NIH in Rockville, MD. It was an easy process -- easier than giving blood, in fact. I simply donated about four test tubes worth of blood and answered a number of predictable questions about what I had been up to, to help make sure that if I was called upon to donate, I wouldn't transfer any nasty diseases. Since then, all I have to do to remain active on the registry is tell them if I move, so I can be located if needed.

Once in all those years I was called. I was a close match for someone. They asked me to come in and give a bit more blood for more extensive testing, to see if the match was close enough. It wasn't, but they kept my more detailed information in my computer profile for a possible future match.

People might think the big advantage to joining a bone marrow registry is the benefit to the recipient. I suppose if I ever donate marrow and it saves someone's life, that would be true. But the fact is that it has worked out as a selfish thing for me. Every time I hear on the news, or see a poster up on a restaurant window saying that someone needs a marrow transplant and they can't find a matching donor, I have the satisfaction of knowing that my information is on file and has been checked. That's worth a lot to me.

For more information about becoming a donor, visit the National Marrow Donor Program. You can see if a marrow donation center is located near you by visiting here, but you don't need to live near one to join the registry. You can visit here to see if you are eligible to donate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:52 PM

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Prince Charles-Camilla Parker Bowles: Settling the Civil Ceremony Question

Far be it for me to suggest a possible compromise settlement to any of the controversies relating to the Prince Charles-Camilla Parker-Bowles wedding (royal controversies give the British press their raison d'etre), but I have a suggestion that could resolve questions regarding the legality of Prince Charles marrying in a civil ceremony.

Specifically, since a good argument can be made that British law proscribes civil weddings for royals, but reasonable doubts exist, and given widespread and not unreasonable sentiment that the head of the Church of England ought to be married in a church (should not he who is the shepherd lead his sheep?), Parliament should approve a compromise bill, to whit:
No Act of this government should be interpreted to prohibit the legal marriage of a member of the royal family by a civil ceremony under the same laws applicable to the civil marriages of British subjects, save that no offspring of a purely civil marriage will be considered legitimate descendants for purposes of succession to the throne.
I'm sure I wrote that in American-ese (it was very hard for me to even type the word "subject"), but the Parliamentary fellows could hoity-toity it up in a few seconds flat.

This compromise settles the matter neatly, in my view. As a biological child is unlikely to result from a marriage in which the bride is 57 (adopted children are ineligible to succeed under British law), it is unlikely that any individual will be denied succession under this plan. Yet, deference to the Church is retained, as is the incentive for future royals to marry within the Church.

Furthermore, there is precedence for this in the "His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936," the law under which Edward VIII not only abdicated, but formally renounced all rights of his descendents to the throne. The 1936 law was approved by Parliament in a single day, though the circumstances then were a bit more compelling than those at work in this case.

In addition to the United Kingdom, 15 other countries (the so-called "Commonwealth Realm" nations) recognize the British monarch as their head of state. Any change in the laws governing the succession to the British throne must also be adopted by the Parliament of each of these nations in order for the changes to apply in these nations. Thus, if my suggestion were to be adopted by the British Parliament, yet not adopted by all or some of the other Commonwealth Realm nations, a split could develop if both William and Harry died childless and Charles and Camilla had a biological child.

This scenario, while unlikely, at least has the entertainment value of permitting us to envision a world in which countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and tiny Tuvalu recognized the British monarch as their head of state -- but did not recognize Britain's choice of monarch.

The tabloids would love it.

E-mail in response:
Before you begin to pontificate at least TRY to get your facts straight ... I'm sorry to hear that it was "very hard for [you] to even type the word 'subject'." You really shouldn't have struggled so ...

Britons have not been considered "subjects" of the Queen for many years. In common with nationals of other democratic countries we are known as "British citizens."

The term "British subject" means one who has allegiance to the crown. It was last used as a legal term referring to individuals in the British Nationality Act of 1948.

Jennie Martin
So the British monarch has no subjects? How can one be a monarch without subjects?

Addendum 2/25/05: The term "subject" continues to have legal meaning and official use in Britain -- see this list of types of British citizenships on a British government passport application website, for instance -- but the legal definition of "British subject" (as a citizenship class) now appears to apply only to a narrow group of individuals born before 1949.

So, should we replace the word "subject" in my proposed law above with the rather wordy phrase "British citizens who are not members of the royal family"? Seems rather awkward... but then, everything about this wedding appears to be a bit on the awkward side.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is George Bush Right?

"We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow," says this piece from the English-language version of the German newsweekly Der Spiegel.

Though the piece appears at first glance to be about President Bush, there's plenty in here to warm the hearts of Reagan fans.

Hat tip: Ed Haislmaier and

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:16 PM

Blowing it on Bloggers

Mark Tapscott is fisking a Wall Street Journal piece on bloggers and the proposed federal "shield law" limiting the government's ability to subpoena journalists.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:05 PM

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Conservatism Not Splitting

I've been reading and hearing sentiments like this -- namely, that the conservative coalition is heading for a split between small-government "libertarians" and social conservatives for something like 25 years now. I assume it went on before that, but I wasn't yet noticing.

Considering that this split has supposedly been imminent for a quarter century or more, it sure is overdue.

That's because it is not happening. I could go on and on about why, but I will be succinct instead. This will require some use of generalizations, so be warned in advance about that.

First, the social conservatives want smaller government. Aka, Grover Norquist's "leave us alone coalition." Small-government/libertarian conservatives love to threaten social conservatives with departure in part because many moderates are embarrassed about being aligned with the un-hip social conservatives. (By the way, are we still in high school?) If the libertarians ever out-recruit the social conservatives the social conservatives will probably just ask them if they plain to support the appointment of activist judges. If they don't the social conservatives will be happy and if they do they actually are liberals.

Second, of Bill of INDC Journal's threat ("One day [we moderates] simply snap, our better judgment overwhelmed by a wacky sense of humor and stewing anger, and you'll wake up to a nightmarish world where the senior senator from Mass rides into the sunset as SecState and Billary is floating doomed socialized medicine schemes out of the Oval again."): Been there, done that. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton. Every time you do that, the country comes back, righter than ever. In fact, you wandering "moderates" helped get us Reagan (response to Carter) and the Republican Congress (response to Clinton). Every time the coalition squabbles, it gets reminded of the importance of sticking together. And a few million other people are reminded, too.

Third, it is silly to draw excessive conclusions from who speaks at CPAC. Aside from the big names, CPAC panelists and speakers tend to be chosen by the sponsors. If you care about who speaks, instead of talking about taking one's chips and going home, become a sponsor of the thing. Any group big enough to be worth keeping in the coalition will find no difficulty doing all the sponsoring it needs to do. (Hint: Send in a check.) Similarly, the CPAC audience is not a demographically pure slice of modern American conservatism -- neither are Ann Coulter's fans. Draw conclusions from who boos at what and what you have learned is -- the opinion of the people who booed. The very people who booed a defense of President Bush's immigration proposal voted for, why, could it be -- President Bush? They probably volunteered for him, too, and gave his campaign some of their money. This is a split? It sure looks like a governing coalition to me.

Fourth, political movements that stop having debates (modern American leftism, I am speaking about you) sicken and die. Differences of opinion among groups and individuals in the conservative coalition are a sign of intellectual strength and vitality. If you consider yourself part of the conservative coalition but have a point of view, whatever it might be, that is not currently dominant within the coalition, here's two possibilities: 1) You and your allies aren't very good at explaining why you are right, or 2) You're not right. Work on it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Monday, February 21, 2005

Gasping for Breath

These folks are encouraging individuals to ratify the Kyoto Treaty.

Are signers expected to reduce their personal carbon dioxide emissions by at least five percent under 1990 levels?

If so -- word to the wise, whatever else you do -- don't sign it!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:16 AM

American Flag

The American Flag blog will link to your blog if you have an American flag on your site.

(One of ours is here -- and we have a flag favicon.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Kyoto: Browbeating America... Without Result

Here's an overseas perspective on America's decision not to ratify the Kyoto Treaty. Worth reading in its entirety, but here is an excerpt: a democracy such as the U.S., it is not possible to browbeat a president into doing something which is deeply unpopoular with the general population. In tin-pot countries such as Azerbaijan, Congo, Djibouti, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, and Syria, the president can ratify anything he likes, because if he bothers with elections at all, they are mere formalities which simply prove that the incumbent should be in office for life. In short, if the world wants the U.S. to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, they are going to have to make a decent case and sell it to the general population of the United States. (In Europe this has not been necessary, as thanks to the EU, sweeping decisions are made at a lofty and detached level guarded by a phalanx of bureaucratic jargon and overpaid consultants, meaning there is no longer a requirement to gain approval from the ignorant masses.)

...To the average Yank, and to a great many other people (including myself), the Kyoto Protocol looks as though it has been craftily developed by political parties wishing to hobble the U.S. economy. Until such time that somebody steps forward and persuades them that this is not the case, the Yanks are not going to budge - and nor should they...
Hat tip: I learned of this from Tim Worstall, by way of Michelle Malkin.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:13 PM

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Notice (thanks to Wizbang for the pointer) that when the former leader of Britain' Conservative party, Iain Duncan Smith, wrote an op-ed about the influence blogs could have on Britain, the first example of blog empowerment ("blogpowerment"?) he thought of had to do with Britain's socialized medicine system.

Namely, that "patients who have waited and waited for [National Health Service] care" will find a voice through blogs.

Michael Barone, Iain Duncan Smith and others have written that blogs make conservatives more mainstream and leftists more radical. They thereby conclude that blogs, on balance, help the right.

I submit that the advantage goes deeper -- to the nuts and bolts of policy debate. Blogs filled with the grievances of the victims of socialized medicine will be the best answer to those who might be swayed by Ted Kennedy and others to seek to impose that sort of system on us.
I propose that, as a 40th birthday gift to the American people, we expand Medicare over the next decade to cover every citizen from birth to the end of life.

-Ted Kennedy, January 12, 2005
Beware of Kennedys bearing gifts.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM

Everything I Know Is Wrong: Kyoto, Summarized

Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong has a top-flight post on global warming.

Let me put it more directly: global warming may or may not be happening -- anyone who tells you that they know for certain, one way or the other, is lying to you. The best, most accurate statement that can be made about global warming is, "we don't know, and we don't have any way to tell -- the world is too big."
Sean explains much in a very few words. If global warming bores you but you think you ought to read something about it every once in a while just to keep up, read Sean's post here. (If global warming doesn't bore you, click here.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:43 PM

The Torch: Justice is Blind

This new blog has some things to say about the death of the terrorist who died from a "Palestinian hanging."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:44 PM

Power Line: "Deeply Contemptible Conduct"

Dittos to Hindrocket of Power Line's opinion regarding the treatment of Jeff Gannon.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:36 PM Waxman on Bullying

Good point, Professor.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:29 PM

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Honeymoon for American Soldiers Based in Europe

U.S. Army Specialist Joe Roche, whose observations about his experiences in Iraq earned the honor of being quoted by President Bush and by the Smithsonian Institution, among other distinctions, has sent over some new thoughts: His impressions of Europe, where he has been stationed with the 1st Armed Division since the 1st AD left Iraq last year.

As usual, Joe is an optimist, tempered with realism:
When I got married in December, friends asked my wife and me if we were going on a honeymoon. We replied that we are and have been for months because we are in the U.S. Army stationed in Europe.

Yes, we get some weird looks when we say this, but it is absolutely true. It is because we are in the Army that we have been able to travel to some of Europe's great places and partake in some special experiences.

My time being stationed here is now finished, and I know I have been very lucky. I would like to share a little with you because in these months in Europe, my wife and I have experienced some of the great legacy that is the impact of America. I fear that I will fail to a great extent, however, because most of this simply is beyond my ability to tell you in words.

How can I impart the emotion of looking down on the graves of the people of Noville, Belgium, who were killed by the Germans in reprisals; looking at the candles in Giessen, Germany, on the night marking the U.S. bombing of the city in 1944; the monuments to Americans and British in Prague for the liberation of their country from the Nazis and the Soviets; the beautiful and grotesque images of great culture and Fascism in Rome; the love of Americans that is to be seen all over Luxemburg where the cost of their suffering in war is so graphic; the quaint grouped graves of Jews who made up the better parts of some German towns; the grandeur and romance of Paris where war and remembrance is to be felt everywhere; the pride in resistance to the Nazis and the love of freedom in Amsterdam?; the ominously dark yet impressive structures of Berlin that show both great human achievement and monstrosity ...and Bastogne?

All this time we have lived in a nice little apartment in the German town near our base. We have lived amongst the Germans and traveled as freely as can be. Yes, the Army has us very busy and working hard, but we make use of our free time and days off to see all we can. When we do this, we encounter other American soldiers doing the same. I see that stateside it looks to you like all Europeans are anti-American. That just is not true, and even where there is such sentiments, it isn't quite what you might think.

I am sensitive to our mission in Iraq because I was there for 15 months, and most of my fellow soldiers are returning there. You see all the criticism, but I see that Poles, Czechs, Latvians, Italians and others are much involved with us in Iraq. I remember seeing Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers often on my missions there. Here in Europe I have also seen much respect for us that is both subtle and cautious. I think Europeans are far more diverse than you might think.

Europeans are in huge transitions. For the most part, the economies here are a mess and are getting worse. Germany's unemployment rate is at a 73-year high not seen since the days of the Weimar Republic. Rather than seeing Europe dominated by the Germans and French, what I have seen is that these two are isolated and weakening, while the rest of Europe is branching out. This is making most of Europe far more supportive of American foreign policy while the Germans and French are lashing out because of growing weaknesses.

I think you are most aware of official hostility in Paris and Berlin. What you aren't seeing is that all around them, in Denmark, Hungary, and elsewhere, the move is to support the U.S. and prevent Paris and Berlin from ever dominating again. In the past months, the European Union has moved to create thirteen small military units. Some argue that this is to be a counter to the U.S. military. The reality is that this is all too small and disorganized to ever be able to lead a mission. In fact, the effect is pushing Europe further into following the U.S. lead as these units will be follow-on forces at best.

As regards European leadership in the world challenging the U.S., I just don't see it either. Having lived here, I can tell you that Europeans are very divided on this because many want to follow American leadership that is based on values and principles. I've also learned that the only real foreign power the Europeans have to project is economic, and that is on the big decline. When it comes to political or military power, Europe just doesn't have anything to put forward on the world stage.

In Paris, perhaps one of the most anti-American capitals of Europe, we still found respect. I should know because I wore my "Bush-Cheney" and my "Global War on Terrorism" hats sometimes, as well as talking like the American I am! Instead of experiencing hostility, we were always treated well and we saw just about everything in Paris. If you haven't been there, you might be surprised to know that the legacies of America are to be seen all over the city. Statues of George Washington, streets named after Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, and so much more.

I don't know if I can possibly get you to appreciate what it is like to go to a city that has been devastatingly bombed and destroyed by the U.S., and yet to be treated like a hero, be welcomed, and be made to feel very comfortable. Berlin and so many other cities of Germany that we have spent time in are like this. Bear in mind that almost all of our bases here are in former German military bases that were fought over and occupied by the U.S. after WWII.

There are some things deeply of German heritage that America saved for them, too. For example, it is almost unsettling to visit Marburg and stand at the crypt of Hindenburg. The reason is that it is misplaced here from the Prussian lands because his grave was rescued by the U.S. Army and brought here to prevent Soviet desecration.

Sometimes you can feel tempted to feel bad, but then there is the Holocaust, and the destruction by Germany of Poland, Belgium or Luxemburg that is just shocking beyond imagination. One hostile German lady told a fellow soldier that her soldier-dad was killed by an American in Holland during World War Two, to which he replied by asking why her dad was there in the first place. The lesson was clear: Americans came as liberators while the Germans were destructive conquerors.

I'm from Minneapolis, and one thing I marvel at is that I don't think many Americans are as pro-American as are many Europeans. In Luxemburg City, the main church in the center has a huge U.S. flag by the altar. Tell me where in Minneapolis you will find that!

Often I am traveling around Germany in military convoys wearing full uniform and have to make stops for food or fuel. I can't count the number of times people have come up to show respect to us soldiers. I wish more Americans could experience this and feel the legacy that is America.

I think that we are too caught-up with the diplomacy of left-leaning European leaders who dominate the news to see that underneath them are many people who support and admire America, even with the Iraq mission. For example, conservative Angela Merkel, who was raised in communist East Germany, is the leader of Germany's leading opposition party and might be a future leader. She illustrates the disparity in pro- and anti-American sentiments in Germany as being because of the difference between those who have suffered more recently for freedom and those who haven't.

Think about it. I don't think it is any accident that Central and Eastern Europeans support us so much. "I know what it is when you don't have freedom," Merkel explains about her childhood living in East Germany, "and so I have a strong feeling for freedom, in comparison to the Western experience where the existence of freedom is normal and fighting for it is not as necessary as it was for us."

If anyone of you are curious about following my travels with your own, I insist you go to Bastogne, Belgium, in December for the commemoration of the Battle of the Bulge. First, realize that Americans have fought hard and died hard in the forests of that region in two wars in the past century. It really is like traveling the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg when you go through the Ardennes. All over it is marked by tragic reminders of the destruction of the First World War, and then you see that this place bled so much during the Second also. This is where America made some of it's greatest stands for freedom in the 20th Century. These are the forests where you will find some of the American National Cemeteries where U.S. soldiers are buried, such as General Patton.

The people of Bastogne love us. You will see hundreds of Belgians dressed as American soldiers, and you will feel a love and admiration for us that is more humbling than anything I can describe. They welcomed us into their homes and treated us like modern-day saints. I know, though, that what it is really about is the legacy of past great Americans who were there in the two world wars, and the sacrifice they made for freedom against the tyrants terrorizing Europe and then stood up to the Soviet threat for 45 years afterwards.

One thing to realize about some of the anti-American sentiments is that we bring it on ourselves sometimes too. I know we laugh at this when it is on Jay Leno, but one morning on the German TV show Der Magazine, many college-age kids in New York were asked who the leader of Germany is today. About half said Adolf Hitler is. For Germans shameful of the Nazi past, to hear American kids so ignorant of history like that is crushing and offensive. What do you expect foreigners to think of us when we have kids so ill-educated out of high school and voting in our elections?!

What this says, I think, is that while we should realize that anti-Americanism really isn't as big in Europe as it is shown in the press and media, we should also realize that we have some work to do to clean up our act too. We are the world's champions of freedom and democracy. We should show our pride in this by being worthy of it as best we can. This means too that we don't abuse the American legacy by being negligent and ignorant of our history and our place in the world.

Well, this is the finish of my being stationed in Europe. It has been some of the most special and amazing months of my life. I know this might sound hard, but if you are able and willing, you really should join the Army and get yourself stationed here. You will love it if you make the most of it. Yes, you will get deployed in service to our missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but that is worth it when you experience and appreciate the legacy we are following. The great generations of past Americans that paved the way for Europe's liberation have left this for us today. It truly has been the best honeymoon for my wife and I to be American soldiers based in Europe.
Joe's letter reminds me very much of another letter I posted on this blog, also written by a veteran, titled "I Have Wanted to Revisit France, Since Being There in WWII..." I posted the latter letter, by World War II Vet Edward Kitsch, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day last June 6th. Because President Reagan passed away immediately following that commemoration, I suspect some folks who would appreciate Mr. Kitsch's letter did not see it at that time.

The similarity of spirit in the two letters is striking to me, though their combat experiences were nearly sixty years apart.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:52 AM

Thursday, February 17, 2005


I received this in an e-mail. Don't know if it is true.
According to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Ins't taht amzanig?
E-Mail in response...
This can be expanded upon. I have found that if you practice looking at the whole page at once and not focus on the letters you can tell if there are typos on the page or not. You may have to read each word after that to identify which precise words are misspelled. I've been practicing this proof reading trick for a long time and find that 99% of the time it works. I learned about this from a former landlady in Boston who typed up papers for grad students. She could look at the page ONCE, and then watch soap operas while her fingers did the work, without looking at the page again. She typed 250 words per minute flawlessly. What a racket she made. Told me that she didn't actually "read" the paper and didn't know what the content was about when she had finished. Photographic mind, I guess. But it illustrates what the mind can do.

Mark Jacobson

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:05 AM

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Journalists' (and Bloggers'?) Shield Laws: What is a "Reporter," Anyway?

Balancing this favorable article by Joe Strupp in Editor and Publisher about the "reporter's privilege" to be partially except from subpoenas is this excellent one by Dan Ackman in Forbes.

Editor and Publisher piece alerts us to bi-partisan legislation in Congress (H.R. 581 and S. 3440) to give "journalists" legal rights other mere mortals lack.

Such a law, of course, would require a federal definition of what constitutes a journalist.

H.R. 581 defines a journalist (a "covered person") as:
A) an entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that--
(i) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(ii) operates a radio or television broadcast station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or

(iii) operates a news agency or wire service;
(B) a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such an entity; or

(C) an employee, contractor, or other person who gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for such an entity.
So, would a blogger be covered? Depends. (I'm reminded of Justice Scalia's complaint that Congress too-often approves laws the meaning of which is unclear.)

As "A" seems obviously to cover bloggers, bloggers would qualify if they are considered covered by i, ii or iii,

1) Is a blog a "periodical"?

2) Would a blogger who obtained information in the course of writing for a blog but who also writes books, or plans to write a book, be covered, but one who has no such plans not be covered?

3) If you use a "satellite system" (say, a cell phone hookup) to transmit data to your blog, or use a cable modem, does your blog qualify under Section ii's references to "cable system" and "satellite carrier"? And, conversely, would data uploaded via a telephone modem/land line render one a "non-covered" entity?

4) What is the legal definition of "news agency"?
The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press has examined the above-referenced section of H.R. 581 and concludes the bill does not cover journalists "without contracts or those who publish solely on the Web."

The Reporters Committee's definition, it seems to me, relies on increasingly-antiquated definitions of some of the terms. Is there a true distinction between a "news agency" and a group blog whose authors do original research and reporting? Reporting that may be read by 100,000 or more people in a single day on the main blog, and linked to by other blogs?

A number of questions come to mind:
* How would H.R. 581, if adopted, classify a four-person group blog at which one of the bloggers was a talk radio host, another worked for a trade publication, a third was a law professor who occaisonally contributed articles to law reviews and the fourth cut hair for a living? Are three of the bloggers shielded, and the fourth, not?

* Is it fair to give a radio station with a few thousand listeners at any given time more legal rights than writers of a news-oriented blog with ten times the audience? Is "fairness" important?

* The main sponsor of H.R. 581, Rep. Mike Pence, said in defense of his bill that "without the promise of confidentiality, many important conduits of information about government activity would be shut down." If the purpose of the legislation to to protect disseminators of information about the government, lest speech be "chilled," shouldn't whistleblowers get similar protections against subpoenas?

* If a blogger printed some paper copies of his blog entries and handed them out on the street, would his blog become a periodical? If not, would it become one if he did this at regularly-scheduled intervals?

* Should publicly-funded media, such as NPR broadcasters, be exempt from shield laws, since being part of government should sufficiently abrograte the need to be protected from it?
I have more, but I'll stop now with this thought: Let's not use the federal code to try to define journalism.

Addendum: This legislation seems much more friendly to bloggers.

Addendum 2: Former Journalist Mark Tapscott has additional thoughts here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Michael King: Murder Most Foul

Project 21 member and blogger Michael King is on the O'Reilly Factor just now.

The topic is a woman in Atlanta being given probation for murdering her infant daughter.

Read Michael's blog, Rambling's Journal, for more on the case.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:41 PM

Washington Post on Kyoto: Three Sentences, None Accurate

From Wednesday's Washington Post:
The [Kyoto] treaty is aimed at controlling global warming linked to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. Although the United States helped shape it, President Bush pulled the United States out as soon as he took office.
Three sentences. None accurate.

The first is inaccurate by omission, as it fails to address even the possibility of economic and/or strategic motives for the treaty. (More details here and here.)

The second is correct only insofar as there was a conference in Kyoto in 1997 in which some of the negotiations took place. There were other official conferences and many negotiations in many places. (The U.S. actually signed the treaty at the Buenos Aires, Argentina conference in November, 1998.)

The third is flatly false. The U.S. has never withdrawn from Kyoto. President Bush, like President Clinton, has declined to send the Kyoto Treaty to the Senate, but the U.S. remains a party to international treaty conferences and the Bush Administration has not removed the U.S. as a signatory to the Kyoto Treaty. (More details here.)

I'd fisk this article more, but I have a life.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:14 AM

Honoring Our Escape

In honor of the U.S. escape from the Kyoto global warming treaty, we posted three new short papers on the topic on our website this evening. Each is based on op-eds I had on the Knight-Ridder newswire over the past few weeks:
National Policy Analysis #524: Michael Crichton's State of Fear: Climate Change in the Cineplex? - Michael Crichton's books, when made into movies, have grossed over $3 billion. Will money-lusty but liberal Hollywood make a movie of his book that criticizes the global warming establishment?

National Policy Analysis #523: Spinning Global Warming - A left-wing organization is feted by the news media as if it were a group of objective climate scientists

National Policy Analysis #522: Meeting the Climate Challenge: Left-of-Center Groups Warn of Impending Doom - Liberal political groups warn that global warming means doom, but others disagree

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Pew Center: Kyoto is Merely Symbolic

The February 16 Washington Post has this quote about the Kyoto global warming treaty:
"The greatest value is symbolic," said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
No doubt that's just what the citizens of the countries that ratified it want to hear.

Nothing like losing your job or paying more for necessities in service of a symbol.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:40 PM

Kyoto Can Be Fun

EnviroSpin Watch takes some fun whacks at European compliance with the Kyoto Treaty and recommends Tim Blair's hilarious poll: "How will you celebrate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol?"

(To find Tim's poll, look on the left side of Tim's blog. I voted for the Greenpeace option, myself. Nobody ever thanks those guys!)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:20 PM

At Least We're Honest

This U.S. government report says Italian environmentalists are protesting because the U.S. has declined to ratify the Kyoto agreement.

Meanwhile, this European Union report says Italy ratified Kyoto, but is not complying with it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:00 PM

The Volokh Conspiracy, The First Amendment, and Mafia Dons

I agree with Judge Sentelle's observations (as covered by Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy) about applying a First Amendment privilege not to testify to reporters:
Perhaps more to the point today, does the privilege also protect the proprietor of a web log: the stereotypical "blogger" sitting in his pajamas at his personal computer posting on the World Wide Web his best product to inform whoever happens to browse his way? If not, why not? How could one draw a distinction consistent with the court's vision of a broadly granted personal right? If so, then would it not be possible for a government official wishing to engage in the sort of unlawful leaking under investigation in the present controversy to call a trusted friend or a political ally, advise him to set up a web log (which I understand takes about three minutes) and then leak to him under a promise of confidentiality the information which the law forbids the official to disclose?
I said something very similar here, thereby earning this blog a #1 spot on Google for the term "mafia dons."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:25 PM

David Brock: Conservatives Lie

David Brock is one to talk...
'The conservatives seem to be particularly vulnerable [to having "lies" exposed] because the quality of their research is particularly low. There is typically self-interested money behind it and of course they are simply willing to lie,' Brock told a group of interns at a luncheon at the Center for American Progress headquarters in Washington D.C.
...I buy Brock's books about the conservative movement because the breadth and scope of his inaccurates is so extensive, I find them hilarious.

Even the smallest details -- such as the style and color of clothes a particular conservative might favor -- are not immune to fanciful, if pointless, reinterpretations.

Charity, however, inclines me to believe that "lies" may not be at work. Ignorance and lack of attention to detail are often the culprits in these cases.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:54 PM

Beldar Takes Nuclear Option

Beldar pulls no punches whatsoever writing about Senator Harry Reid, "damned lies" and restoring the constitutional integrity of the judicial nomination process.
I don't know what percentage of the voting public genuinely understands the Senate's advice and consent role with respect to judicial nominees in general. But I'm quite sure that only a tiny fraction of the electorate understands that the total number of senators who have successfully colluded to deny an up-or-down vote to President Bush's nominees could fit comfortably in an average-sized minivan, and would leave the gap between second and third bases empty if they tried to field a baseball team.
Do read the whole thing. The issue, important now, will be even more so soon.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:37 AM

Monday, February 14, 2005

James Watt's Critics Find It Hard to Apologize

Power Line and Daily Standard readers will be familiar with John Hinderaker's work exposing the false accusation that President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, once told Congress in formal testimony "that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ."

Anyone who repeated this silly story should be embarrassed, not only because it is inaccurate, but obviously so. Had James Watt said anything of the kind in Congressional testimony he would have been pilloried at the time. (Goodness knows he was for seemingly just about everything else.)

Not everyone who repeated/republished this false story seems to be embarrassed about doing so, however.

Catch this "correction" at the Post-Normal Times blog:
...the quote widely attributed to James Watt, that "after the last tree is felled the Lord will return" (used in the text on the page "About the Post-Normal Times") is something he never actually said, at least not in a Senate hearing. [Emphasis added] Grist, the Washington Post, and Bill Moyers have all issued retractions. Bill Moyers also issued a public apology and conceded that he made a mistake because he used it without doing his homework. The Post-Normal Times herewith also retracts the statement, has revised the page and thanks those who take the time to point out errors. While care is needed, it is not possible to fact check every quote we use - but we do indicate our sources. Those trying to create a bandwagon to criticize Bill Moyers over a mistaken quote that has been retracted, should look into coverage of the WMD issue...
There's plenty more to this grudging non-apology on their blog, in which the writer of the post tries to use John Hinderaker's research to justify continuing condemnation upon Watt.

The writer of the post, Sylvia Tognetti, says she has been "working in the field of environmental science and policy for over 20 years." Given that, she has been around long enough to know that if Watt hadn't already been pilloried for the comment, the accusation that he had said such a thing in such a public forum just didn't pass the smell test.

Regrettably, many environmentalists find more satisfaction in feeling superior than in reporting the truth. James Watt found that to be true during his career; it is a shame they won't let him retire in peace.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:15 PM

Mark Steyn on Steroids

Says Mark Steyn: "When you cede to the state the responsibility for feeding, clothing, housing you, for your parents' retirement and your own health care, it's hardly surprising they can't see what the big deal is about annexing your sex life as well."

This piece is Mark Steyn on steroids, if you can imagine such a thing.

Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:27 AM

What Does An Elephant-Headed God Want With Smashed Coconuts, Anyway?

I was filled with warm fuzzies when I read that Baby 81 is getting reunited with his Mommy and Daddy, until I read what Mommy plans to do to celebrate:
Jenita Jeyarajah said the first things she'll do when she gets custody of the baby will be to fulfill vows to smash 100 coconuts at a temple of the elephant-headed Hindu god, Ganesh, offer sweet rice to the warrior god, Murugan, and kill a rooster for the goddess Kali.
And yet, Mom believes in DNA tests.

An E-Mail in response...
There is nothing inconsistent about reverence for Ganesh and "believing" in DNA. You show an unfair and ill-considered bias.

John Slorp

...I arrived at your blog pursuing the misquote of James Watt's...stick to the facts as you did there and all will be well.
Addendum (2/20/05): Wizbang and Michelle Malkin are reporting that much of the "Baby 81" story is just plain made up.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:22 AM

Patrick Michaels: Kyoto is Absurd

If arguments about climate change bore you to sleepiness, this is a week to drink a lot of coffee, because the Kyoto global warming treaty goes into affect Wednesday (for industrialized nations other than the USA, Australia, Liechenstein and Monaco).

So, in between the far-more important news about who-wears-what and who-sits-where at the Michael Jackson trial's jury-selection circus, expect to see news clips blaming the United States of America for what we are told the weather will be 95 years from now.

Some of the news coverage will be nonsense, so in the interest of balance, here is something more reliable, courtesy of the Cato Institute's Patrick J. Michaels:
Kyoto is absurd because it does absolutely nothing measurable within the foreseeable future about planetary temperature, while one nation - the United States - bears almost all the cost. Kyoto is an economic weapon, not a climatic instrument, pointed at America. Europeans, allies or not, know this full well. That is why, for several years, not only did the French and Germans demand the U.S. implement it but do so in the way that would do us the most financial harm.
Lift a glass of bubbly on Wednesday, folks, because America has gotten away unscathed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:16 AM

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Power Line: Remembering Mr. Lincoln

Power Line honors Abraham Lincoln on this anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:30 AM

Person of the Year 2005 Prediction

Congratulations to the bloggers who held CNN's chief news executive to the same standard to which the news media often holds others.

Michelle Malkin has the run-down on who did what.

Prediction: Time magazine's Man/Person/Thing/Planet of the Year in 2005 will be Bloggers.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:54 AM

Associated Press Watch: Channeling Jan Egeland

Pretty much every loyal American, from the White House on down, scoffed at U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland when he said the U.S. was cheap.

I've been critical of AP writer Charles P. Hanley for following the Sierra Club line in his environmental reporting.

Here's a news report in which the two of them get together. Egeland says some moronic things about global warming and weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, while Hanley elevates his musings into an international story.

Notice as you read this story, taken here from the San Diego Union-Tribune, that Hanley provides no counterbalance to Egeland's and the left's thesis that modern science has proven human beings are causing global warming and that this will cause more natural disasters.
U.S. seeks to scuttle conference text linking climate change to disasters

By Charles J. Hanley

January 19, 2005

KOBE, Japan - The U.S. delegation to a global conference on disasters wants to purge a U.N. action plan of its references to climate change as a potential cause of future natural calamities.

The U.S. stand reflects the opposition of the Bush administration to treating global warming as a priority problem.

"It's well known that there's controversy" about the consequences of climate change, deputy U.S. delegation head Mark Lagon told reporters Wednesday at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. "It's our desire that this controversy not distract this conference."

The chief U.N. official here had a different view.

"I hope there will be a global recognition of climate change causing more natural disasters," said Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-organized network of scientists, said in its latest major assessment of climate science that the planet is warming and that this is expected to cause more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts, as the century wears on.

A broad scientific consensus attributes much of the warming to the accumulation of "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-burning. The Kyoto Protocol, which takes effect Feb. 16, mandates cutbacks in such emissions, but the United States, the biggest emitter, has rejected that international pact.

In its preamble, the "framework for action" drafted for adoption at the Kobe conference on Saturday says climate change is one factor pointing toward "a future where disasters could increasingly threaten the world's economy, and its population." Other passages call for strengthening research into global warming and for clear identification of "climate-related disaster risks."

The U.S. delegation, supported by Australia and Canada, has called for all references to climate change to be deleted from the main document. The move is opposed by the 25-nation European Union - a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol - and by poorer nations potentially imperiled by the intensified storms, rising ocean waters and other effects of climate change.

The Bush administration has held fast to its rejection of mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, although Environmental Protection Agency administrator Mike Leavitt says that climate change is not an issue the White House dismisses. In December 2003, the administration said it was planning a five-year program to research climate change.

With global warming, millions more Bangladeshis could be displaced from low-lying coastal regions when oceans expand and rise as they receive runoff from melting ice.

"We feel there will be more calamities unless there is some action on climate change. The number of natural hazards will increase," said Siddiqur Choudhury, a delegate from Bangladesh, where a half-million or more people were killed by cyclones in 1970 and 1991.

Egeland, the U.N. emergency coordinator overseeing the relief effort for the Indian Ocean earthquake-tsunami, which killed more than 160,000 people last month, said the world has seen "a dramatic increase in hurricanes, storm surges and climate-caused natural disasters."

In an Associated Press interview, he noted that he hasn't been involved in the floor debate over document language. But, he said, "there is climate change. That is not really controversial. What is controversial is what causes climate change" - a reference to dissenters who contend the role of greenhouse gases may be overstated.

John Horekens, the U.N. conference coordinator, said he saw room for compromise on the language: Inclusion of a brief reference to climate change in the action plan, and additional references in a less significant annex.
For those interested, here are a few places where the link, or lack thereof, between global warming and various disasters is discussed:
Cato Institute: Tsunami of the Absurd by Patrick J. Michaels January 10, 2005

Washington Post: Apocalypse Soon? by Patrick J. Michaels May 16, 2004

The Commons Blog: Tsunami and Global Warming by Jane Shaw, 1/19/05

National Center for Public Policy Research: Don't Like the Weather? Don't Blame it on Global Warming by David Ridenour, August 1998

Spiked-Risk: Extreme Weather? It's the Norm by Brendan O'Neill, August 17, 2004

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:27 AM

Friday, February 11, 2005

Grassroots Government: Internet Fixes for Government Accountability Problems

I posted Tuesday about Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation's suggestion that Congress should post the complete text of legislation on the Internet before it votes.

Mark Tapscott of Tapcott's Copy Desk has taken that idea for a "grassroots government' reform and added two new ideas to it.

I don't want to give the ideas away when folks can easily get the full scoop from Mark, but I will tell you that one idea has to with "grassroots government" reforms relating to judges ruling on Constitutional law questions and the other has to do with regulations on business.

Basically, Mark thinks the Internet can be put to use in creative ways to increase public scutiny of, and control over, the government that serves us.

I agree. In fact, I'd like to add two ideas to Mark's "grassroots government" collection, in the area of criminal justice:
* The resolution of criminal cases should be posted on the Internet by District Attorneys' offices (and their equivalents). Information should include the charges made against a defendant and the resolution, including any plea bargains agreed to, dropped charges, verdicts and sentencing. The public has a right to know how often cases are plea bargained and what really happens when someone is arrested for car theft in their neighborhood.

* Announcements of pending parole hearings should be posted on the Internet, along with information about the offense(s) for which the inmate was convicted and time served, and the address for writing the parole board. The public would then have the ability to attend parole hearings and testify when warranted. Furthermore, parole hearings should be simulcast on the Internet. The parole board's decision should be posted as well.
Not every "grassroots government" idea can work, and most would require modifications and limitations to work in the real world (victims' privacy concerns would have to be addressed for my ideas to work, for instance). But as the Internet makes it possible to transmit large amounts of information at very low cost, couldn't we use it more than we presently do as a tool to make government more accountable?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:34 AM

Not the Wedding of the Century

Ed Haislmaier has some thoughts about the civil wedding bells that soon will be ringing in Britain:
Hearing the news that Prince Charles has publicly announced his intention to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, I immediately remembered that the best take I'd ever seen on the subject was the following from Florence King's "The Misanthrope's Corner " column in the February 12, 1996 issue of National Review:
Currently, I side with Prince Charles and think he deserves a feminist award. Most men ditch their dear old Dutch for a trophy wife but he ditched the trophy wife for his dear old Dutch. No one gives him credit for preferring time-ravaged Lady Camilla Parker-Bowles to firm-fleshed Di, or realizes her ladyship's value to the state. Plebeianized England needs Queen Camilla: any woman can ride a horse but it takes a true aristocrat to look like one.
That is still, for my money, one of the wittiest comments ever from a very witty writer. But on a more sober note, King was writing during the "Chuck and Di Split" period, and re-read today, in the light of Diana's subsequent death, her next two paragraph's seem prophetic:
Charles is regarded as an odd duck because his hobbies of architecture and the cello fall outside the Pale du jour. Diana, on the other hand, is considered normal because her hobbies -- throwing up, hurling herself into glass cabinets, hating her husband -- conform to acceptable feminist standards of assertiveness and self-expression.

Actually she's one diamond short of a full tiara. Not like those royals of yore called the Mad and the Simple; full-bore insanity with its connotations of blue blood would offend our anti-elitist age. Democracy demands neurosis and Diana delivers. So far she has indulged in common-garden masochism, but falling through glass eventually loses its charm. Needing bigger and better crashes, she is courting self-destruction by assaulting what she dimly realizes is her only identity: the monarchy itself.
At Ed's suggestion, I read Florence King's column and have to say I was struck by a completely different section of her column -- her hilarious memories of arguments about the British aristocracy between her parents, one of whom was British; the other, American.

But then, I have an American spouse. Ed's is English.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:48 AM

Mailbag: Smart Growth's "Agenda of Exclusion"

Among the mail to our post about Ryan Balis's letter on "smart growth" in the Washington Post:
I enjoyed Ryan Balis' letter in the Washington Post yesterday and I agree completely with him.

Many of the policy makers in local government know that what Ryan has pointed out is true but they look at this as a positive benefit of their efforts to control sprawl. In fact, for many of them the goal of limiting sprawl is really about protecting and enhancing their local tax base, keeping their local governments costs down and enhancing the value of their constituents' property. Protecting the environment is often a facade for land use policies that push lower income families into neighboring jurisdictions and schools and significantly raise real estate values.

One of the reasons for the proliferation of such methods is the absence of renters and lower income citizens at the polls in local elections. In many jurisdictions, local governments behave more like homeowners associations than like governments of all the people. I've had enough experience here in Charlottesville/Albemarle to firmly believe that a not so hidden agenda of exclusion is really the foundation of many local governments anti-sprawl land use policies...

Kevin Cox

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:45 AM

Mailbag: No Rebuttal on AP's Bias

Among the mail received regarding my criticism of the AP's environmental reporting was this:
Who provides funding for your operation. It wouldn't be from large corporations would it? Ones involved in the fossil fuel industry? Gee , I wonder if you are just paid hacks and spin doctors? No,no that would be unthinkable. You are just interested in correcting errors in the media reporting on global warming.Yes,yes that is it. I will always be thankful that we have such right thinking organizations protecting us from big lies and fabrications. You make us feel warm all over.

[email protected]
Minus the typos, this is the sort of question we get pretty much everytime we discuss environmental issues on talk radio.

Here's how we answer: Yes, The National Center does receive support from the fossil fuel industry -- equal to eight-tenths-of-one-percent of our total annual funding.

However, even if we got 100 percent of our funding from the fossil fuel industry, the AP's reporting would still be biased.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:41 AM

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Neal Boortz: Unions, Yes - Momentarily

Regarding the Wal-Mart in Quebec that is closing because demands made by union workers made the store unprofitable, talk show host Neal Boortz says:
There are many things I would like to do or would have liked to have done in my life. Go into space, for instance, or travel to Everest base camp. Also on that list is to form a company, hire about 200 people, treat them well, sit back and watch them form a union, and then fire them all and close down.
And I thought I was anti-union...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:27 PM

The AP's Biased Global Warming Coverage (or, Dan Rather, Call Your Office)

The Associated Press seems determined to spin global warming, even at the cost of its own reputation.

Elsewhere on this website, I have analyzed several recent AP wire stories on global warming, all of which are breathtakingly biased in favor of the theory that human beings are causing global warming -- warming that, theory advocates say, eventually will prove catastrophic.

Bias, however, is standard fare for global warming reporting. What is striking is that objective facts are missreported in the service of that bias. (Dan Rather, call your office).

For example, readers are told that "greenhouse gases" are in the atmosphere "mostly from fossil-fuel burning."

Actually, the major greenhouse gas is water vapor, but in the interest of charity, we'll put that aside and focus on carbon dioxide. "Most" of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not come from burning fossil fuels -- only about 14 percent of it does. Furthermore, carbon dioxide accounts for less than ten percent of the greenhouse effect, as carbon dioxide's ability to absorb heat is quite limited.

There's more.

A year ago, I wrote a similar piece about the AP's global warming coverage, correcting the same errors and several others. It looks like the AP couldn't be bothered with fact-checkers a year ago and it still can't.

In addition to these AP wire stories, I also criticized a different AP wire story that gave the world the impression that a panel of qualified experts had just - stop the presses! - determined that the world has only a short time left to act on global warming, as the world is "approaching the critical point of no return, after which widespread drought, crop failure and rising sea-levels would be irreversible."

But the experts turned out to be led by politicians, not climate scientists, and the groups that assembled them turned out to be former Clinton Administration Chief-of-Staff John Podesta's Center for American Progress and two self-described liberal activist outfits located abroad.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:50 AM

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Containing Sprawl: The True Cost

National Center Policy Analyst Ryan Balis has a letter in the Washington Post today on the cost of containing sprawl.

As per usual with environmentalist schemes, the cost of "smart growth" anti-sprawl initiatives tends to be borne by those who can least afford it.

As Ryan says in his letter:
The Feb. 3 Metro story on plans by the District and other area officials to control "suburban sprawl" with ever-denser development ["Building Strategies to Map Out Growth"] did not address the policy's effect on rising home prices.

Suppressing housing development as demand for it grows will cause prices to skyrocket. This is evident in Portland, Ore., long considered a model for "smart growth" planning. There, fewer than half the homes in 2002 were affordable to median-income earners. The city plunged from the 55th-most-affordable city in the country in 1991 to 163rd place in those rankings in 2002.

Is the Washington area going to follow in forcing out thousands of low- and middle-income residents?

Ryan Balis
Policy Analyst
National Center for Public Policy Research
The National Center has published an econometrics study examining the impact of so-called "smart growth" policies. Based on an examination of the record of the policy in practice in Portland, Oregon, the study revealed that smart growth housing restrictions disproportionately penalize minorities, the poor, urban families and the young.

What's more, the policies fail to generate the expected environmental benefits, actually increasing suburbanization rates while failing to reduce vehicle miles traveled or congestion.

Our study asked this question: If cities nationwide had adopted Portland's smart growth policies in 1992, how would America's most disadvantaged populations been affected by 2002? We learned:
1) 260,000 minority homeowners circa 2002 would not have been able to become homeowners;

2) One million homeowners of all races circa 2002 would not have been able to afford their homes by that year;

3) The average home price in 2002 would have been $10,000 more expensive;

4) The average cost of renting a home or apartment in 2002 would have increased six percent over its actual price.
We dubbed our report "Smart Growth and Its Effects on Housing Markets: The New Segregation" -- so named because smart growth policies deter minorities from home ownership at disproportionate rates.

The study is available for download (PDF file) here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 PM

Maybe This is How... warming theory advocates seek their vaunted "scientific consensus" that their theories are right and the data will catch up eventually...
Illarionov Criticizes Censorship Bias at Climatic Conference

LONDON, February 2 (RIA Novosti's Alexander Smotrov) - Presidential economic aide Andrei Illarionov criticizes the policy of censorship practiced at the British Climate Change Conference.

The scientific conference of G8 experts is held in Exeter in the south of Britain on February 1 through 3.

"Its organizers have not accepted reports from many participants whose views are different from that of the organizers,'" Mr. Illarionov told RIA Novosti in the interview.

Asked by the RIA Novosti correspondent why his name is not in the list of speakers, Mr. Illarionov said: "Making a report here is impossible because organizers practice a policy of censorship against people having different points of view."

Mr. Illarionov is against the Kyoto Protocol, which intends the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions.

He draws a parallel between the refusal of organizers of the British conference to allow a number of reports to be made to the similar situation prevailing on eve of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. "The situation is the same here as well as in Davos and in the organization called the IPCC (Interparliamentary Panel on Climate Change)," the presidential economic aide said.

Last week he refused to participate in the Davos forum because he was not allowed to speak up at the sessions on climate change...

-From the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti, February 2, 2005
Addendum: I suppose I should have pointed out that Andrei Illarionov is an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, not to President Bush, as not everyone will know.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:10 AM

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Heritage Foundation Congressional Reform: Posting Before Voting

The notion that Congress should post the text of bills on the Internet before voting is an interesting one.

See Tapscott's Copy Desk for more on Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner's idea.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:50 PM

Cites, Please

Steve Weinberg, writing in the Baltimore Sun, scolds non-fiction writers whose books fail to provide indexes and sourcing.

He singles out two famous writers for special criticism: Kitty Kelley and Bob Woodward.

Weinberg says:
Authors such as Woodward, and, by extension, editors such as Mayhew and publishers such as Simon & Schuster, offer all sorts of reasons for failing to provide source notes: They clutter a book. Readers never look at them anyway. Readers trust us. The sources are too sensitive to be identified. Adding extra pages drives up book prices.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it conveys the tenor of the discussion. The point is that every reason stated to me over 35 years of discussion is garbage.
I agree. I never take a non-fiction book seriously if it lacks sourcing and an index.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 AM

SI: Steelers Top NFL Dynasty

Gotta agree with Sports Illustrated on their #1 pick.

Those were very good years.

Hat tip: Professor Bainbridge.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:18 AM

Monday, February 07, 2005

Wishing Europe Well

I wrote an entire post about this.

And then I erased it. I'd rather be writing something positive.

So here goes: After Europe collapses, may something nice rise in its place.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:59 PM

Michelle Malkin: Easongate Interviews with Gergen and Frank

Michelle Malkin has interviewed David Gergen and Rep. Barney Frank, both of whom were part of the panel at Davos where Eason Jordan made his remarks about journalists and the U.S. military.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:20 PM

A Penny or a Pistachio

Ed Haislmaier writes to say:
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has an intriguing "thinking outside of the box" idea for the rewards the U.S. is offering for the capture of bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. Friedman writes:
The U.S. should announce that it is lowering the reward for bin Laden from $25 million to one penny, along with an autographed picture of George W Bush. At the same time, it should reduce the $25 million reward for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the chief terrorist in Iraq, to one pistachio and an autographed picture of Dick Cheney.

Don't get me wrong. Bin Laden and Zarqawi have murdered people. I want them brought in dead or alive - and preferably the former. If I thought $100 million would do it, I'd be for it. But these mega-rewards clearly are not working, and in many ways they are sending the totally wrong signals.

First, both of these guys are obviously megalomaniacs, who think the world is just hanging on their every word and video. All we are doing is feeding their egos, and telling them how incredibly important they are when we put a $25 million bounty on their heads. We are just enhancing their status on the Arab street as the Muslim warriors standing up to America, and encouraging other megalomaniacs out there. We should be doing just the opposite-letting these two know we don't think they are worth more than a penny or a pistachio.

But there is an even more important issue of principle at stake. We should not be paying Iraqis or Arabs or Pakistanis to get rid of their problem. Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are a curse on their civilization. Their capture will have real value to them, to us and to the world, only if it is done by Arabs and Muslims for the sole purpose of purging their civilization of these two cancer cells.

Also, if bin Laden's or al-Zarqawi's own neighbours turn them in for nothing, it will have a much greater deterrent effect on others. After all, what story would you rather read after bin Laden's capture?

"Osama bin Laden was apprehended this morning after villagers turned him in to local police. The villagers collected the $50 million reward and then fled their country in ski masks, not wanting anyone to know their identities."

Or, "Osama bin Laden was captured this morning after villagers tipped off local police. One of the villagers, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, told reporters: 'This man sullied the name of Islam, a religion of mercy and compassion. There is a special place in hell for him. I will dance on his grave...'"
While Friedman's suggestion may seem to some to be too clever by half, I actually think it has some merit following the successful elections in Afghanistan and now Iraq. In the context of Middle Eastern cultures -- which take far more seriously than ours the giving and receipt of personal insults and are almost as concerned as the Japanese about "face" -- it would be seen as a deliberate, calculated insult and a loss of face for the terrorist masterminds. It would also show who is the "strong horse" and who is the "weak horse," to turn bin Ladens's phrase against him. In that regard, it should be noted that it was similar logic that motivated Ariel Sharon to crack down on Palestinian terrorists in Gaza at the same time he pushed through the Knesset the removal of Israeli settlements in Gaza. It was widely commented on that Sharon did that to send the Palestinians the clear message, "Israel is withdrawing from Gaza for its own reasons, not because you forced us to."

Here's how I would modify Friedman's basic idea if I were the President. I'd announce that the rewards offered were being reduced to a much more modest, but still attractive, amount (say, something between $10,000 and $25,000). Such an amount would be equivalent to that for a garden variety murderer in the U.S. but still a big inducement for tipsters in those impoverished countries, while still clearly communicating the calculated insult that Friedman intends. Furthermore, I would say that the reason the U.S. is taking such a step is that the successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly demonstrate that the peoples of those countries are well on the way to responsible self-government, that neither terrorist leader has any meaningful support left in either nation, and that the vast majority of Afghans and Iraqis understand that they need to get rid of those guys if they want to build free, secure and prosperous societies. Of course, we will continue to work with the Afghan and Iraqi governments and our other allies (Coalition partners, Pakistan, etc.) to hunt them down, but doing so is now a "mopping-up" operation.

The other, and bigger, quibble I have with Friedman is that I don't think there is much value to his idea (not excerpted above -- see linked full version) of reprogramming the money into some kind of Arab scholarship fund.

Remember, some of the top terrorists, including a number of the 9/11 hijackers, have (or had) wealthy, western educated backgrounds and established their key cells in the U.S. and Western European countries. I think the better approach would be to announce that the funds will be redirected to a couple of major, high-profile infrastructure/reconstruction projects in those countries (I'm thinking power plants, water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, etc.) that the "masses" will benefit from, and I would publicly identify where and what they will be -- effectively daring the terrorists to stop us from building them. Given their egos, that would either drive them to attack those sites (where, of course, we would position troops and armor to deal with them), or force then to accept further humiliation by effectively conceding that they can't stop us from going ahead.

Another aspect of the PR effect would be that such projects would be a kind of "reward" to the common people of those countries who have suffered from the terrorist depredations, and a "thank you" for seizing the opportunity for self-government that our troops have provided them.

Thus, we could simultaneously insult the terrorists and reward and flatter those who braved the terrorists to vote in the Afghan and Iraqi elections. Kind of a "two-fer" and the sort of thing the State Department calls "public diplomacy." How about it Mr. President? Madame Secretary?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:49 AM

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Three Cheers

Three cheers for these doctors and lawyers.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:04 PM

Ronald Reagan's Birthday

Today would have been Ronald Reagan's 94th birthday.

Trey Jackson has assembled a collection of Reagan tributes and links on his Jackson's Junction site in honor of the man and the President.

This was my favorite link (accessed via the "trip down memory lane" link on Jackson's Junction). The quality of the picture isn't much but when you read that President Reagan kept it in his desk and why, it gets interesting.

Addendum: Jeff Harrell of the blog Shape of Days, who is too young to properly appreciate Reagan as President, says "President Reagan has been a bigger influence on me in the years since his retirement than he ever was while he was in office." Read his post here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Dutch Flag Banned -- in Holland?

It has been several years since I have been in Europe, so perhaps this won't surprise others as much as it surprised me.

Read the comments, too -- some are good, as is this suggested link to an article entitled "Europe: They Name is Cowardice," translated from the German press.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:09 PM

Cookie Lawsuit

Eric Berlin describes another mind-boggling lawsuit: Two teenage girls get sued for baking cookies for a neighbor.

The problem wasn't the cookies. It was the neighbor.

See also: The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

Addendum, Feb. 6: Wizbang reports that radio station KOA in Denver has raised money to pay the damages the girls were ordered to pay to the neighbor. Click the link on Wizbang to read an AP report saying the husband of the plaintiff (the lady for whom the girls baked cookies) allegedly has been making harassing phone calls to the family of one of the girls.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 AM

Friday, February 04, 2005

Regarding Ward Churchill: Abolish Tenure

Rarely do I criticize another for being old-fashioned, but I find the very notion of tenure distastefully medieval.


In the Middle Ages there were few institutions offering scholars the opportunity to ponder -- not just few alternatives to universities, but very few universities, period. If that were the case today, perhaps tenure for the purpose of protecting academic freedom would make some sense. But it isn't, and it doesn't.

A simple question: If professors at universities need tenure to feel free to think, how is it that think-tanks do so well without it?

Associate Professor Mike Adams at the University of North Carolina says: "Tenure is supposed to foster academic freedom on our nation's campuses. Instead, it fosters socialism, laziness, and incivility."

Let's get rid of it. That way, the next time a Ward Churchill situation develops, his employer -- the public, in this case -- can simply do what it thinks best.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:55 PM

Gary Kasparov: With Whom Will the West Side?

Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov asks: In the coming battle for freedom within Russia, with whom will the West side?

Here's part of what he wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
...The Duma recently passed a law that punishes foreigners who "show disrespect to the state of Russia." Without a pause, the director of the federal agency in charge of the media stated that it's time to filter Internet content. Criticism of Mr. Putin and his regime simply will not be tolerated. Censorship and repression are threatening to surpass oil and gas as Russia's biggest exports.

Students and pensioners have recently taken to the wintry streets to protest. In a healthy democracy politicians would step in to lead an angry crowd. Not in Russia, where there's no political advantage to being against any Kremlin policy, no matter how many voters are against it. The only vote that matters is Mr. Putin's.

With the democratic opposition systematically pushed into the margins, real change will come from the people, not from the top. We are starting from scratch. In places like Russia liberty is more than a filler for speeches. Democracy is more than something that interrupts your life every four years. People born in free countries think that we are exaggerating the loss of freedoms when in reality things are even worse. You see Mr. Putin sitting at the table with the G7 leaders and assume he can't really be all that bad.

This is not a plea for help, but a warning about what we're going to have to deal with soon. The patience of the Russian people is wearing thin. With whom will the West side in this coming battle, the Russian people or the KGB?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:13 PM

Better Watch Where You Pitch Your Tent...

...the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand is growing at the rate of 12 feet per day.

For more on glaciers and global warming, I recommend this.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:04 PM

John Samples: Defund Everyone

John Samples of the Cato Institute explains why the Armstrong Williams affair is just the tip of the iceberg: The Bush Administration, he says, "spent $250 million on public relations during its first term," while President Clinton spent about $128 million on publicity during his second term.

A far bigger point, however, and one which Samples makes in his conclusion, is that the government should not be providing subsidies to politically-active groups. Samples doesn't give a figure for federal government grants to groups of this type, but I bet the figure would make $250 million seem like a pittance.

Jonathan Adler has more on the subject on The Commons Blog, with links to information about sizable federal grants to environmental organizations.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:55 PM

First Annual Flat Earth Award

This is an award I would love to earn. But I have to admit that the three finalists are more worthy choices than I. Great men, all.

And, alas, regardless of how hard I work to spread the truth about the global warming theory, I probably won't get a chance to win in future years, since the award for best truth-telling is being awarded by students as part of the course work in a Middlebury College class. The kids are bound to lose interest as soon as they aren't getting college credit for the enterprise.

The class is called "Building the New Climate Movement" (is this climate science or political science?), and it is taught not by a climate scientist, but by an Assistant Professor of Economics.

I majored in economics myself, but I don't recall ever being asked to build a greenie movement for credit. (Back in the old days, we were so deprived.)

The kids cite this article as proof of a scientific consensus in favor of the global warming theory.

I wonder what the kids think of this -- assuming the fine economists at Middlebury College (tuition and fees $40,400 per year) have told them about it.

Is it fair to expect impartial scholarship for a mere forty grand a year?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:00 AM

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Previewing the Volcker Investigation

The Heritage Foundation has released a paper providing guidance on how to judge the report the Volcker Investigation is releasing today.

Heritage's Nile Gardner says there is a "strong possibility" the report will be a "whitewash of most of the U.N.'s leadership, including the Secretary-General."

The Volcker Committee lacks, Gardner says, the powers it needs to conduct a full inquiry:
The Independent Inquiry Committee is severely handicapped by its dearth of investigative power. Even if it wanted to, the committee clearly does not possess the means to fully investigate this gigantic scandal. As outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Danforth has pointed out, the IIC is not equipped with the necessary tools to conduct a thorough investigation:
The fact that [Volcker] doesn't have subpoena power, he doesn't have a grand jury, he can't compel testimony, he can't compel production of documents and witnesses and documents that are located in other countries might be beyond his reach...

Those are tremendous handicaps.... [W]hat is possible, is that his focus would move from the bad acts, from the criminal offenses to something that he will view as more manageable - namely the procedures and was it a tight enough procedural system, which might be interesting but not the key question to investigate.
At the same time, there are also major questions regarding the independence of the Volcker Committee.... It remains unclear how many former U.N. employees are involved with the committee. It is self-evident that a truly independent inquiry into U.N. corruption should not be staffed either by former U.N. employees or by any other people with significant ties to the U.N.

Without any kind of external oversight, the Volcker Committee is clearly open to U.N. manipulation...
Addendum, Feb. 4: Everything I Know Is Wrong has a good write-up of the Volcker report.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:32 AM

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union Reaction

We've seen the Democratic Congressional leadership's "prebuttal" to the President's State of the Union Address.

Here's the other side of the coin, from some conservative Republicans in the House:
"It takes a lot of courage for any politician to touch the so-called 'third rail of politics.' By laying out a vision for Social Security reform that guarantees benefits for current retirees and creates personal savings accounts for younger workers, President Bush has shown that he's more concerned about preserving and improving the program than he is about partisan political fallout."

- Rep. Jeff Flake, AZ-6

"As the leader of energy policy in Congress, I was encouraged by the president's remarks regarding our need to decrease dependence on foreign sources of oil. I am determined to fight on Capitol Hill for a comprehensive energy policy that meets America's energy needs while reducing our reliance on other nations for help, and look forward to the support of the White House."

- Rep. Joe Barton, TX-6

"As President Bush made clear tonight, freedom is a priceless right. Whether it is in the form of joyous new voters in Afghanistan and Iraq or in the form of financial freedom here at home through responsible Social Security reform and tax reform, freedom must be promoted and defended. I share President Bush's bedrock embrace of freedom and his desire to create an 'ownership society.' I look forward to working with President Bush on policies that will enhance liberty and make the American dream a reality for more people."

- Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, FL-25

"George Bush is a leader who has proven he is not afraid to tackle tough issues head on. I look forward to working with the President to spread freedom and hope around the world, strengthen families here at home, and reform those programs that simply cannot meet the demands of tomorrow. In the end, these policies will make our nation safer and stronger and our future more secure."

- Rep. Joe Pitts, PA-16

"I agree with the President that there is a real need for responsible reform of our broken social security system. I support creating personal accounts that allow younger workers to invest a portion of their contribution, while still protecting the benefits many seniors depend on."

- Rep. Dan Burton, IN-5

"President Bush really made the case for bi-partisan support on a lot of these issues. The things he discussed - strengthening Social Security, making America safer, celebrating freedom - these aren't Republican or Democratic issues, they're American issues. We've got a lot on our plate this year, but I think the President's optimism will be contagious and we'll accomplish a lot, too."

- Rep. Phil Gingrey, GA-11

"I share the gratitude of the President - and the American people - for the amazing job being done by the men and women of the United States military who are fighting for freedom around the world. The success of elections in Iraq and Afghanistan speaks to the courage of our men and women in uniform and the Iraqi and Afghan people - and is an encouraging step forward in the pursuit of freedom and democracy throughout the world."

- Rep. John Kline, MN-2

"By speaking of his support for our troops and his determination to win the war on terrorism, President Bush continued to provide the resolute leadership that Americans need during a time of war. I'm proud and supportive of President Bush's vision to keep our nation safer by advancing freedom in the world."

- Rep. Joe Wilson, SC-2

"President Bush has set a bold second term domestic agenda and pledged to continue the effort to protect and advance freedom across the globe. Although this aggressive plan will likely encounter political resistance, it is important to recognize that the President's leadership will foster greater security for future generations, both at home and abroad."

- Rep. Tom Feeney, FL-24

"The health of every American is important to me both as a congressman and as a physician. President Bush's State of the Union Address has set out a bold agenda. We are in a health care revolution poised to make incredible changes. Through my work on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I plan to make America's health care the standard by which all others are judged."

- Rep. Michael C. Burgess, TX-26

"From continuing to wage the war on terror, to creating new opportunities for every American, President Bush's State of the Union Address serves as a blueprint for a new era of freedom, security and prosperity. I look forward to working with the President as we forge the policies that will move America forward."

- Rep. Connie Mack, FL-14

"Although politically perilous issues, energy, tax reform and social security must be addressed; This President is obviously the right man for that job. We can't confuse the seeming stoicism of the Democrats with their obvious politics of obstruction that are stifling this country from forward progression. The President's bold agenda in every arena, including a comprehensive energy plan and urgent social security reform, will save future generations from having to spend trillions of dollars that could mean the vital difference between a bitter America and a better America."

- Rep. George Radanovich, CA-19

"President Bush's commitment to driving perpetrators of terror back into their foxholes continues to bear fruit. Just three days ago - amidst intimidation, threats, and actual violence - the people of Iraq spoke out against the past oppression of Saddam Hussein and his dynasty of tyrants and spoke loudly for democracy. I was privileged to witness first hand, during my visit to Iraq this weekend, the unfolding of democracy that has resulted from the President's steadfast leadership and dedication to extending freedom and liberty."

- Rep. Judge Ted Poe, TX-2

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:19 PM

John Howard Defends U.S. to Europeans has a report that will cheer anyone who wonders why America is not appreciated more overseas.

Hint: It has to do with Australia's John Howard accusing some European nations of "ridiculous" anti-Americanism.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:03 PM

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Heritage Policy Weblog: Blacks, Social Security and the Associated Press

The Heritage Foundation's Heritage Policy Weblog chides the Associated Press for saying that "only" the Heritage Foundation has said that the present Social Security system cheats African-Americans.

Hey AP, haven't you ever heard of Google?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:43 PM

NAACP to IRS: Drop Dead

This story about the NAACP refusing to comply with an IRS request for documents -- a typical IRS action in an audit of this type -- amazes me. Does the NAACP really think it can retain its tax-exempt status while refusing to comply with an audit -- or are the documents the IRS wants so damning, the group has little choice but to try a hail-Mary strategy?

As the AP reports it:
The NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, is refusing to cooperate with an IRS investigation into whether its chairman made an improper political speech, charging that the timing of the probe was itself politically motivated.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said in October that the group's tax-exempt status was under review after its chairman, Julian Bond, gave a speech that criticized President Bush.

In a letter to the IRS on Thursday, NAACP attorneys said the group will not hand over documents requested in the probe and argued that the IRS followed improper procedure by launching its exam before the group filed its 2004 tax return...

...The IRS could request that the Justice Department ask a federal court to enforce the summons and hand over the requested documents.
Under tax law, charities are not allowed to endorse candidates or support their election or defeat. Without taking a position on whether the NAACP did this, I can say (speaking as the CEO of an organization that operates under these rules) that there is nothing you can say on your tax return that makes it OK to engage in otherwise prohibited political activity.

Perhaps the NAACP thinks it can intimidate the IRS into backing down. I am skeptical that it can.

This matter makes the resignation of Kweisi Mfume as the NAACP's president, which became effective just a few weeks ago, all the more interesting in retrospect. Perhaps the resignation is unrelated, but it is worth noting that Mfume resigned rather unexpectedly before the audit began, but after the IRS's intention to conduct an audit became known to the NAACP. Perhaps Mfume perceived the audit would prove to be a painful experience for the group -- and preferred not to be associated with the results?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM

Patrick Moore: "Environmental Movement Has Lost Its Way"

The National Center's Ryan Balis has suggested I recommended this Miami Herald op-ed by Patrick Moore to blog readers.

Moore is a founder of the environmental group Greenpeace.

In the op-ed, Moore explains why he left Greenpeace ("By the mid-1980s, the environmental movement had abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism. I became aware of the emerging concept of sustainable development: balancing environmental, social and economic priorities. Converted to the idea that win-win solutions could be found by bringing all interests together, I made the move from confrontation to consensus.").

He also complains that the present day environmental movement brings us "environmental policies that ignore science and result in increased risk to human health and ecology," and explains. Sample sentences:

On Greenpeace wanting to ban vinyl: "Apart from lowering construction costs and delivering safe drinking water, vinyl's ease of maintenance and its ability to incorporate anti-microbial properties is critical to fighting germs in hospitals."

On nuclear power: "Nuclear energy is the only nongreenhouse gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand."

On activists who want to stop tree harvesting: "If we want to retain healthy forests, we should be growing more trees and using more wood, not less."

On the campaign against salmon farming: "Salmon farming takes pressure off wild stocks, yet activists tell us to eat only wild fish. Is this how we save them, by eating more?"

I'd like to quote more, but then I would be quoting the whole thing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

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